In the end, Dr. James Dobson and other ideological Christians may be the worst enemies of the idea that intelligent design should be taught as science. They just can’t resist emphasizing that ID is, to them, good Christian doctrine.
In the latest outbreak, the New Zealand chapter of Dobson’s group Focus on the Family has sent copies of the DVD, “The Privileged Planet,” to 400 New Zealand high schools. Why?
Focus on the Family’s executive director Tim Sisarich said the material was intended to expose pupils to an alterative theory of cosmology.
“We’re a Christian organisation so we believe that God made the planet and God made the cosmos … Science takes a theory and tries to establish it as the truth, and that’s all this is.”
Education Ministry senior manager Mary Chamberlain said parents had a right to withdraw children from religious instruction.
This undercuts the lobby group, Discovery Institute (DI), which argues that intelligent design should be considered good science and not religiously related. The DVD in question features an intelligent design advocate, Guillermo Gonzalez, who was denied tenure at Iowa State University in 2007 — in that flap, DI argued that the DVD was good science, not religion.
Creationism does tend to require being flexible on the truth. When fundraising, or when trying to defend Christian ideas, intelligent design is Christian doctrine. When DI and others are trying to sneak ID into science curricula in the U.S., it’s not religion at all, but scientifically related.
Treating subjects in that fashion is a form of moral relativism, or to most people, simple dishonesty.
(The discussion at the site of the Dominion Post is quite lively; see what New Zealanders think of intelligent design.)
Update: P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula was already on it. Morris, Minnesota is just such a hub of scientific activity, it’s difficult to stay ahead of Dr. Myers when we’re stuck here in what appears to be the scientific backwater of Dallas.