Philosophy / Intelligent Design In Public Schools
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Autor: anton 04 November 2010
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Why they should stick to the facts
Since the day immigrants landed on the shores of this Nation it has been a high priority of the government to ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to receive a equal and proper education. The Public school system is an opportunity for children of all social and economic backgrounds to obtain a standard education in this country. For the most part, if a student is willing to put in hard work and good effort, they are provided with the potential to take their education to the next level and then onwards to a fulfilling career. In order for the system to be as effective as possible, a consistent standard must be implemented around the country. The theory of evolution and creationism has become a sensitive issue as of late and many feel changes need to be made in how it is taught in public schools.
There is so much we have yet to discover about our evolution and the evolution of the universe and until we learn more it is important to teach children facts that have concrete proof as opposed to ideas and theories which are more religiously based. Also, since our country is founded on diversity, different people/students have different viewpoints on many subject matters, including creationism or design. For these reasons, I believe intelligent design should not be taught in public schools. If a child or parent is curious about the subject, they should seek outside instruction and allow for public schools to teach factual curriculum in order to maintain a level of consistency.
From the dawn of time, we as humans have been attempting to explain and identify events and phenomena which we have experienced. Many of these events such as the creation of the Earth and its different species have been virtually unexplainable due to a lack of knowledge and information. As a result, humans, from confusion and curiosity, developed theories and ideas attempting to explain what could not originally be explained. Distinct groups of people would soon come to collective conclusions on certain matters and as a result religions have formed.
Religious values are extremely important in society as they provide us with proper morals and respect for one another, regardless of what religion way may choose to follow. Religion is a subject that should be taught to a child by a parent in the household, it is not something that should be learned in a public school setting. A parent has the option of sending their child to a religious school if they really want someone else to teach religion to their child. Teaching a child religion is equivalent to teaching a child to be kind to others, to respect their elders, to chew with their mouth closed, and so on. These aren't topics one would expect a schoolteacher to instruct a child on, these are topics parents teach their children. I am a strong advocate of religion. I believe it teaches a child many important principles and values that he or she can carry with them throughout the course of their lives.
I agree with many aspects of intelligent design. I am a firm believer in the existence of God or an equivalent force or being with infinitely more power and knowledge than a human being. Michael Behe, a proponent of intelligent design provided an interesting synopsis of what this idea is about, "Ð’â€¦a single system which is composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning (Behe, Molecular Machines: Experimental support for the Design Inference)."
This is apparently the design principle of the intelligent design theory. This is the system which the designer creates and all of the components must be working uniformly. This is a very accurate example of how designers and engineers create a working, functioning product. The intelligent design argument however is that nature could not have created such an intricate, complex system. Critics counter-argue this point, however regardless of who is right or wrong the argument containing the most evidence to this data is that of natural selection and evolution. There may very well be something or someone creating species and other systems however the idea is too vague at this point in time and therefore can not be taken as fact and therefore should not be taught to children in public schools.
Human knowledge has been evolving at a phenomenal rate throughout the course of history. Ideas and theories have arisen, some true and some false. Early on, some false ideas were accepted as true and those who opposed them were brutally punished. "Friar Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600 for suggesting that the earth traveled around the sun, rather than the other way around. The same belief, published by Galileo, led to his conviction and arrest in 1631." (Linder)
The Church was originally so convinced that their theories were true they would not even listen to any opposing view points. As time has passed, people have recognized there faults and errors and this has allowed for us to continue to become more knowledgeable as a species. Even now, there is a lot more to learn however we must accept what we know now as true and educate children this certain knowledge. In order for society to move onwards (become more knowledgeable), we must accept what we know now as fact and then apply these facts to discover more information about our World. We are now privileged to have scientists and great minds who have evidence to support scientific theories and this evidence supports facts and because of this we can teach children of these facts and how they were developed and proven.
Intelligent design has not yet been distinctly proven and so should not yet be taught to students. We need to stick to factual evidence in order for students to gain the basic understanding they need to become even more intelligent than their predecessors. Teaching a subject that is vague and still not understood creates confusion and doesn't promote our advancement as a society. Young children are not yet able to take in information, analyze it, and interpret is as their own and because of this, we must stick to curriculum based on reason and rationale alone.
Rene Descartes was a highly regarded philosopher who "Ð’â€¦stands not only as the father of modern philosophy, but also as the original archetype of the modern rationalist (Soccio, 264). Intelligent design is a direct contradiction of the coherence theory of truth, a truth test in which new or unclear ideas are evaluated in term of rational or logical consistency and in relation to already established truths. It is a disorganized though that does not directly relate to an established truth. Descartes also states that it is common for an individual to overlook clear and simple truths or intuitions and to complicate them with ambiguities because we feel simplicity equals unimportance. This can be directly related to the foundation of the idea of intelligent design in that people feel that our idea of the evolution of the human race is too simple and there must be a more complicated solution. I am not disputing this to be true or false, what I am simply stating is that for educational purposes, it is much more important to stick to simple, consistent, and proven ideas so that children may take these facts and then later interpret them as their own.
As a rationalist, Descartes took his observations of the world as he saw it, and made his own interpretations. He was fortunate enough to have an elite, well rounded education and took what he knew and applied it to his philosophy. "So blind is the curiosity by which mortals are possessed, that they often conduct their minds alonst unexplored routes, having no reason to hope for success (Soccio 267). What Descartes is implying here is that it is common for people to act as if they possess knowledge in a certain subject area when in fact they have little or no education on the topic. He goes on to state that you need "method" in order to investigate the truth and with it you can achieve accurate knowledge. This "method", I believe, comes from a proper, basic education, where an individual is taught facts and then given the opportunity to interpret them for his or herself. The teaching of intelligent design takes away a child's ability to think and interpret these facts for themselves.
Phillip E. Johnson, a professor of law at the University of California-Berkley wrote a book called "The Wedge of Truth." In it, Johnson describes how people, through the years, have started to replace thoughts of God and religion with reason and rationality. The author is constantly questioning the reason behind many so called "truths" which we accept but have no material reasoning to support them. In his novel, he presents an example of how he believes theology has to be taught if it is to be taught to students. He first presents a passage from the Bible about a lawyer asking Jesus how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus responds by telling him he needs to love the Lord with all his heart, soul and strength. Johnson goes on to say that, "The teaching of the story makes sense as knowledge only if we assume that there really is such a thing as eternal life. We also must assume that there exists a texts based ultimately on divine authority that instructs us- when interpreted by a competent teacher- how to obtain this eternal life. Third, we must assume that God is both real and involved with our lives to the extent that it is rational to love him with all our faculties. There is more, but you get the point (Johnson 103)." Johnson essentially provides his definition of what knowledge is and how it should be taught, He uses this example to describe how this form of knowledge must be taught in order for it to be considered legitimate.
I would now like to apply the previous example to intelligent design. According to Professor Johnson, we must first accept that there is a designer, which we can not logically do at this point due to lack of evidence. Second, we need to accept that we are all components of this design which, although may be true, has not been proven and therefore can not be accepted as fact. Third, we need to accept that the designer is very real and very involved in our every day lives. We can not logically accept any of this to be factual and therefore, according to Johnson, we can not accept it as knowledge. If it can not be accepted as knowledge, then there is no reason, at this point in time, to instruct children in intelligent design. There are so many topics to be learned about that apply to today's world. Even philosophy, which I believe is mainly speculation, is not exactly proven to be true, although famous philosophers have laid the groundwork for many academic subjects such as math and because of that, it is a subject that should be studied in school. Intelligent design has yet to prove to be valuable knowledge and until it does, it should not be taught in public schools.
David Hume was a skeptic on many levels. His Religious skepticism was very interesting and his philosophy on Religion is something I have also pondered in my life. "In order to emphasize the mystical and quasi-mystical elements in religion, Hume directs attention to our general ignorance about causes, saying that unknown causes create ideas of omnipotence. Fear of what we do not know, enslaves us (Price, 107)." Price describes Hume's argument by saying that Hume regards religious sentiment as a passion of mankind and that he finds no logical correlation between the priori principles of religion and their origin in human nature. "Religion thus has no more authority over the human mind, than any other passion would have, in so far as it is just another passion (Price 107)."
Hume seems to believe religion is no more than a passion created by humans to fill the empty gaps in their understanding of the world. Humans by nature, want to be in complete control of everything. We want to be able to understand everything that's happening around us. This is how Religion was formed. People looked to the skies and wondered what was up there and if there was another being looking down on them. There may or may not be a being outside of our world but regardless, we can not waste time and resources instructing people that there is something there when we simply do not have enough evidence to prove it true. Hume essentially refers to Religion as a passion. We can not spend time, resources, and finances, instructing children how to interpret a passion. This is something children should be able to interpret for themselves, because, at this point in time, an eight year olds opinion on who or what constructed us is equally as valuable as the opinion of a lifelong intelligent design theorist.
"In his Enquiry, Hume accurately described the Argument From Design as "useless" because in and of itself it can never "establish any new principles of conduct and behavior." (Dutch). Hume's argument here is that, even if intelligent design is all true, it still doesn't establish anything. There is nothing we can learn or interpret from it. It doesn't prove anything beyond the fact that there is a designer and that he created the components which make up the world we live in. It is not valuable knowledge or knowledge at all. It is merely speculation that is not consistent with anything we consider to be true today.
Although while we are in school it seems like eternity, time for education has a limit. After each year a student graduates to a new level of learning and must and therefore each year must contain an adequate amount of teaching for that student to be able to move on. Since time is limited, some subjects must be covered and some must be left out. In the public school system, there must be some sort of consistency so that everyone is given a fair and equal chance in their education. Intelligent design is a subject which doesn't have enough factual evidence to be considered a public school subject. Although I myself possess religious beliefs I don't feel that they belong in an academic atmosphere.
Our knowledge has been and continues to evolve throughout history and this is because people learn facts, study them to their extent, and then make new inferences and theories which are tested, sometimes proven true, sometimes proven false. I sincerely hope that one day we can reach a better understanding of where we actually came from and who or what created us, but until then we can not get caught up in the passion and speculation of what we don't know or understand. Time is best spent learning and teaching topics that we already understand and topics that have the potential to be studied further By teaching Intelligent design in schools we are hindering our advancement as a society and depriving children of the ability to think and interpret for themselves.
Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. 6th ed. Thompson Learning. CA. 2007
"Intelligent Design" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design
Dutch, Steven. David Hume and the argument from Design. 11 March 2002. http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/Hume.htm
Edis, Taner and Young, Matt ed. Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the new Creationism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Johnson, Phillip E. The Wedge of Truth. Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
Linder, Doug. Notes on Policy and Legal Issues Concerning "Intelligent Design Theory. 2001. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/intelligentdesign.html
Price, John Vladimir. David Hume: Updated Edition. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991.
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