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'Intelligent Design' comes under fire from Conservative critics.

It's widely assumed that "intelligent design" (ID) is a top priority of the conservative movement, but there is one problem with that scenario: Conservatives keep speaking out against it.

In November, two nationally syndicated conservative columnists, Charles Krauthammer and George F. Will, criticized intelligent design in sharply worded columns.

Krauthammer, never known as a supporter of a high wall between church and state, called the persistent battles over evolution in the United States "so anachronistic and retrograde as to be a national embarrassment." He also referred to ID as "today's tarted-up version of creationism.

Noting recent battles over ID in Dover, Pa., and Kansas, Krauthammer observed, "Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological 'theory' whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge--in this case, evolution--they are to be filled by God. It is a 'theory' that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species, but that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, 'I think I'll make me a lemur today.'"

Continued Krauthammer, "How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too."

Will's column ran around the same time. He criticized social conservatives for championing ID, which he said threatens conservative political hegemony. Will observed, "'It does me no injury,' said Thomas Jefferson, 'for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.' But it is injurious, and unneighborly, when zealots try to compel public education to infuse theism into scientific education."

He added, "The conservative coalition, which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on the private institutions that mediate between individuals and government, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades."

As if that weren't enough, reeling ID boosters received another shock when the Vatican's chief astronomer said intelligent design is not science and stated that it has no place in the classroom.

The Rev. George Coyne, a Jesuit who directs the Vatican Observatory, remarked, "Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be." Coyne recommended that instruction about ID be limited to classes about religion or cultural history.

Coyne's remarks were further evidence of a raging internal debate over evolution in the Roman Catholic Church. Earlier this year, an Austrian cardinal, Christoph Schoenborn, endorsed ID in a New York Times column. A few months after that, however, Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told reporters during a Vatican press conference that the church must pay heed to the scientific community or risk lurching into "fundamentalism."

"The faithful have an obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity," observed Poupard.

At the same event, Vatican official Monsignor Gianfranco Basti called evolution "more than a hypothesis because there is proof."
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Title Annotation:Charles Krauthammer, George F. Will, columnists
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:Fundamentalist students sue seeking access to Calif. higher education.
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