Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pat Robertson v. Intelligent Design

In response to last week's election in Dover, Pennsylvania, where voters turned out of office all eight conservative school board members who supported the introduction of intelligent design into the science classroom, Pat Robertson has been quoted as saying:
I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.

And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there.

There are so many things wrong with this statement that it's hard to know where to begin - the smug self-righteousness, the peevish and petty vengefulness, the idea that natural disasters are a punishment, and on, and on.

But I've noticed something about this claim that has not drawn a lot of attention: Pat Robertson has actually undermined the legal and political argument for intelligent design.

ID can only pass constitutional muster if its advocates can show that it is not a religious doctrine but a scientific theory. That's the whole point: do an end-run around the establishment clause by taking all of the God-language and Creation-language out of creationism, packaging the whole thing as a respectable scientific alternative to Darwinian evolution, publishing slick textbooks, and finding a school board here or a school board there that might be willing to introduce it in the classroom.

Robertson has ripped the mask off of that. It's really all about God after all - and not just any old God, but the wrathful and righteous God peculiar to American fundamentalists.

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