ID, Please Come Out

Another week, another piece of anti-science legislation. This time it’s Missouri (again), where a deep incongruity of the intelligent design (ID) movement has made its way into the mouth of a local politician.

State Rep. Rick Brattin (R), the sponsor of HB 1227, wants ID to be taught alongside evolution in Missouri’s science classrooms. According to the Kansas City Star, Brattin says the bill is “not about religion.”

Yet in the selfsame report he says, “I keep pointing to a Gallup poll that shows 90 percent of Americans believe in a higher power. And yet our schools only teach that we emerged from primordial ooze. I think students should get both sides of the issue and get to come to their own conclusions.”

The logical fallaciousness, scientific ignorance, and overall naivete of this statement aside, what’s amazing is the absolute transparency of Brattin’s doublespeak: It’s not about religion, you see; it’s about religion.

The obviousness of this reminds me of my three-year-old, holding half a cookie in her hand and speaking out of a chocolate-smeared mouth, No, I didn’t take the cookie.

Yet Brattin, as confused as he seems, is only parroting the ID party line. His legislation is not about religion in the same way ID is not about God. Which is to say, religion is exactly what his legislation is about.

And he’s doing it in the spirit of ID, too. In hopes of sounding scientific, ID eschews the word “God” in its official work, opting for an unnamed “designer.” In the same way, Battain goes for the vague and unoffending “higher power.”

I have long believed that ID is on its deathbed. It is a scientific non-starter and a theological travesty. It is intellectually infertile. But Brattin makes me think what will ultimately kill ID is its inability to be honest with itself and admit what it is: religion and politics, masquerading as science.