A few weeks ago it looked like Polk County, Florida, was going to be the next Dover, Pennsylvania. With five of the seven school board members in favour of including intelligent design in science classes, it seemed likely that things might come to a head. But just a few weeks later, things appear to have changed; Billy Townsend of the Tampa Tribune writes:
Yet a few weeks later, the controversy is dying with a whimper. There’s no board support for a challenge to the proposed standards. Some of the five school board members blame the local newspaper for trying to start a fight.
And the force behind that change? The Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The satirical religious Web site asserts that an omnipotent, airborne clump of spaghetti intelligently designed all life with the deft touch of its “noodly appendage.” Adherents call themselves Pastafarians. They deluged Polk school board members with e-mail demanding equal time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism’s version of intelligent design.
“They’ve made us the laughingstock of the world,” said Margaret Lofton, a school board member who supports intelligent design. She dismissed the e-mail as ridiculous and insulting.
Townsend credits PZ Myers and Wesley Elsberry with spreading the word, making it into a national issue. School boards in the US have a remarkable amount to power to determine education policy. Being a local issue, their decisions have attracted very little scrutiny, which is probably a major reason why things progressed as far as they did in the Dover case. Public ridicule is always helpful, but I hope that someone also took the time to explain to the school board members that teaching intelligent design in public school science classes violated the law.
Of course, when it comes down to it, this is only half the problem with ID. Not only is it religious, it’s also bad science and bad theology. Townsend reports that school board Margaret Lofton said:
She describes herself as secure in her beliefs. “I’m a Christian. I personally believe that the Bible is inerrant truth and the word of God.”
While believing that the Bible is “inerrant truth” is usually an indication that the person doesn’t know that Bible all that well, combining that statement with an interest in intelligent design suggests an incomplete understanding of ID. Certainly Behe’s designer is incompatible the orthodoxy Christianity: a God who tinkers with life to create evil isn’t the God of orthodox Christianity.
H/T Dave, via email.