After courts repeatedly found their efforts at introducing “creation science” into school curricula to be in violation of the First Amendment, religious opponents of Darwinism in Texas have begun pressing for “intelligent-design theory” (ID) to be taught alongside evolution. Peter Berger notes a striking parallel between their misunderstanding of science and the intellectual arrogance of the so-called New Atheists:
[Intelligent design does] not challenge evolution or the modern cosmogony. Rather, it makes the argument that the order of the universe points to an intelligent mind behind it. This of course is what any Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) monotheist would say. I think that one can make a powerful philosophical argument here. The mistake made by the fundamentalists was to insist that ID was yet another scientific theory. The courts struggled a bit, but then again concluded that ID was yet another religious doctrine falsely claiming to be science. . . .
[T]he wish of religious movements to be recognized as “scientific” is not difficult to explain: science has attained enormous prestige in the modern world, not because its cognitive claims are universally understood (the scientific knowledge of most people is very limited), but because the technology created on the basis of science can be used without being understood. On the whole, this technology has greatly benefited human life on earth. One can drive an automobile without understanding why the internal-combustion engine works. . . .
[T]here is a curious resemblance between the Protestant fundamentalists besieging the Texas Board of Education and the “New Atheist” fundamentalists that have been besieging us all with their mostly silly books. Both propose a very “flat” universe—enclosed in very narrow limits, without any sense of transcendence or mystery. Real science conveys both. It creates an experience of wonder. That wonder is not yet religion. But it is its antechamber.
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