The debate continues. Was God an intelligent designer or did the universe fall into place at random? Should we teach creationism or Darwin or both? Must we choose between science and superstition, between enlightened reason or mindless faith?
Of course, most people know that God and science are not contradictory. While you can always find a backwoods preacher who will tell you that the world was literally created in seven days and that Lot's wife was literally turned into salt, no serious person would say that the Bible should be taken as scientific fact.
Does this mean that we should scrap God and become atheists? Or, as the politically correct crowd might say: Is God a social construct?
Before rushing off to embrace atheism-- the latest intellectual fad-- consider a line of reasoning offered by Jacques Lacan a few decades ago. It may not have been original, but it is compelling.
Four hundred or so years ago Johannes Kepler worked out the law that determined planetary orbits. Of course, he did not think that he had proven that God did not exist. Quite the contrary, he thought that he had gained an insight into God's mind.
If the planets were-- obviously-- obeying this law before Kepler discovered it, where had the law been before that time. If it is reasonable to think that the law existed before any humans wrote it down, is it also reasonable to say that a mind was thinking it? If so, what kind of mind? Clearly, it was not a human mind.
The same can be said for any scientific laws, including the laws of evolution. Thus, many have stated that there is no inherent contradiction between physical laws and metaphysical minds. But metaphysics is not the same as physics, and has no real place in a science course.
That is not the issue. Lurking in the wings of this debate is the following problem. Do the enlightened masses who have brandished the truths of science to smite the demons of creationism and intelligent design really believe in science? Would they throw out one of their politically correct prejudices if science proved it was not true.
Several years ago Harvard president Lawrence Summers made a few remarks about the biology of gender differences, some of which derive from Darwin.
As you recall, he was instantly attacked for having committed blasphemy. He was eventually run out of office on a rail. We all remember the furor. Did it sound like a rational, enlightened debate or a witch hunt?
Many of those who are fighting to exclude creationism from 10th grade biology-- position I would support-- believe that gender is a social construct, that sexual roles are a social construct, and that fatherhood and motherhood are socially constructed. Some of them also believe that all science, from physics to chemistry to geology, is one large social construct.
For social construct, read: creation. They really believe that the socio-sexual whirl was created by design. They believe that gender roles were designed intentionally by dominant males in order to serve the interests of an entrenched patriarchy. Some believe that the purpose was to repress human libido and oppress women.
This is a creationist view. Instead of God creating human beings, the politically correct crowd proposes that a trans-historical patriarchy did the dirty deed. They object to this design because they consider it to be unintelligent.
This creationist view has previously led to a re-creationist vision. If a criminal conspiracy created human nature to serve someone's will-to-power, then it should be possible to re-create human nature, the better to liberate the impulses that patriarchy has oppressed. Manifestations of this new human being are the Nietzschean Superman and the New Socialist Man.
You cannot hold fast to these beliefs and tout the virtues of Darwin. Among the better known aspects of Darwin's theory is the notion that sexual selection is based on a reproductive calculus. People are hard-wired to seek out sexual partners who will aid in the successful reproduction of the species.
This theory-- call it a scientific fact-- does not jibe with the notion that gender roles are social constructs or social creations. Nor does it jibe with Freud's Oedipal theory that everyone's true desire is to copulate with his or her mother. Nor does it jibe with the notion that sex is fundamentally about obtaining pleasure and that it does not much matter how, when, where, and with whom you go about it.
If you believe that the species is hard-wired to reproduce itself, then any theory that tries to explain sex by saying that human beings are merely seeking pleasure.. is unscientific. Call it neo-creationist dogma, if you like.