A few scattered and frankly partisan thoughts after reading the full Kitzmiller
(1) From the beginning, "Intelligent Design" was probably on a collision course with itself. Rebuffed in their attempts to keep evolution out of classrooms on explicitly religious grounds, creationism's proponents dressed their ideas in pseudo-scientific regalia and had another go. But that strategy looks to have been doomed from the start, if only because ID is intrinsically unable to satisfy modern standards of scientific inquiry. Judge Jones's opinion devastatingly states the heart of the matter. Modern science explores testable empirical hypotheses that might potentially be falsified by observational fact. Its rejection of supernatural causation is methodologically foundational. Nothing can rescue creationism from that dilemma, once its advocates adopt the tactic of portraying creationism as science. The dilemma is radically insurmountable, so long as ID's fundamental aim is to posit intervention in natural events by some intelligent deity and to establish that hypothesis by scientific means. Even if ID were suddenly accepted in the peer-reviewed literature, and even if the National Academy of Sciences were to bestow its imprimatur, and even if natural selection were meanwhile revealed to suffer from fatal conceptual or empirical flaw, ID's claim to scientific status would founder on its refusal to accept the most basic rules of modern scientific engagement. Creationism can never accept those rules, largely because its entire point
is to find ultimate causes in the will of an omnipotent deity, which by definition cannot be subject to nomological principles.
(2) Might a diluted, less theistic version of ID succeed, where ID failed? Under the existing legal tests, that seems doubtful, because whatever new flavor creationists may concoct, the doctrine's roots in fundamentalist activism will probably be impossible to hide. But creationists might have a stronger case, if they were pushing a notion with stronger intellectual bona fides (and not pushing it selectively, the way they have selectively pushed the idea that natural selection is "only a theory," without mentioning that universal gravitation, for instance, is "only a theory" too).
(3) A more modest and defensible version of ID might take either of two approaches. It might try to confine its goals to legitimately scientific ones, or it might simply drop all pretense at science. Let's consider the scientific approach first. Some of ID's legal problems arise from its proponents' refusal to cabin their intellectual ambitions. No doubt it may seem insufficient and unsatisfying, to religious fundamentalists, merely to point to alleged lacunae or failures of coherence in evolutionary theory. But scientizing their program is plainly a doomed project, at least in the public school curricula, so long as creationists remain concerned to go further and argue that divine intervention is somehow a competing scientific model (and a superior one to boot!). Consider a theory with more modest reach. It might be called the RC theory. It might explore the extent to which standard naturalistic models fail to explain Remarkable Coincidences -- felicitous constellations of important facts or regularities necessary to the stability of the universe, or of life as we know it. Could such an inquiry be formalized in scientifically rigorous form, with empirically testable hypotheses? We don't know enough to say. But if so, it might be thought a salutary way for students to explore the limitations of the modern scientific enterprise, which too often is naively presented as the best or sole arbiter of Indubitable Objective Truth. If the students were then permitted to draw their own
conclusions . . . .
(4) Alternatively, creationists might abandon their improvident and self-defeating fetishization of science, allow that alternative modes of inquiry into truth are possible, and attempt to infiltrate other parts of the curriculum. Why not a Myths of Origin course? Why not Philosophy of Science? Why not the History or Sociology of Knowledge? Why not, if it comes to that, a Comparative Religions course? Well, maybe we already know why. Maybe the fundamentalist constituency sees its belief-set as the One True Way and would never accept any curriculum that acknowledges even the existence of other viewpoints. If so, then as registered members of the Democratic Party, we have some news for them: Sometimes, we're afraid, you have to take what you can get.
(5) So too for members of the Republican Party, whose posture toward science may also be on a collision course with itself. On the one hand, there is the programmatic desire, among the party elite, to govern largely through an ideology of Official Science, according to which no danger can be counted as serious unless generally recognized as such by an institutional scientific community that happens, by Remarkable Coincidence, to be increasingly dominated by the very corporate interests responsible for creating the dangers in the first place. This philosophy of governance permits critics to be pegged as fuzzy-headed alarmists who should grow up, take a science course, and abandon an insidious cultural pessimism that springs (so goes the ideology) more from ignorance and childish superstition than from the cold, hard, complicated facts. Of course, this is a primarily rhetorical
strategy of governance, and one that works only so long as the rhetoric is taken at face value and the science largely ignored. But as ID proponents have already found, science is not some taxicab from which riders may necessarily disembark at will. Once its logic is embraced, consequences follow. And so, on the other hand, the elite must confront those of the rank-and-file who may have little left to them, in late capitalism, except for cherished beliefs to which scientific learning is rightly seen as a major threat. Organized capital operating within a globally competitive economy needs workers and managers who are capable of analyzing empirical reality with eyes wide open, undimmed by religious or ideological preconception. In the long run, it can't afford
to train them, in high-school, to disregard whatever scientific teachings may be dismissed, by fundamentalist religiosity, as heretical. And yet that educational program is precisely what many of the rank-and-file will no doubt continue to demand, from organized capital's party of record.