Evolving debate

Remember that whole intelligent design controversy a little while back? If you don’t, it might be worth it to take some time and reflect. This Thursday, for one night only at the Avalon Theatre, you can catch a screening of “Flock of Dodos,” a documentary about the so-called controversy. Thankfully, the film is less esoteric than evolutionary science itself – it makes clear arguments in an entertaining way and features a cast of animated scientists that make 85 minutes very easy to sit through.

The big question the filmmaker is out to ask is just how controversial this issue ought to be – is intelligent design more than just repacked creationism? When the writer/director has a Ph.D In evolutionary ecology, it could be worth listening. “Flock of Dodos” was made by Randy Olson, a scientist who studied at Harvard under the legendary evolutionary biologist Steven Jay Gould. When he asks questions of his own science, we listen, also slightly skeptical.

But need we be skeptical of science? Of course – ’tis the nature of the beast. But deferring to the proponents of intelligent design? Why are we even listening to those who Olson is referring to as the “flock of dodos, ” those “Bible thumpers and goobers” who have politicized the teaching of evolution in public schools again and again only to be shot down time after time?

Well, it turns out they’re really nice people. While a guy with a Harvard Ph.D won’t hesitate to call you an idiot, these sweet older folks making this an issue in places like the Kansas Board of Education who are fine saying “agree to disagree.” Then again, you have people like evangelical preacher Pat Robertson telling the people of Dover, Penn., that in siding with Darwin, they’ve forsaken God.

“Flock of Dodos,” to its credit, tries to let the Intelligent design-ers make a convincing case. The problem with the theory is that it’s light on science and heavy on assumption. Intelligent design is trumpeted most loudly by lawyers and PR firms, but even the real scientists who support it – and “Flock of Dodos” lets many of these few and proud make their case – admit that most of the science behind it is derived from evolutionary theory.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t gaps in evolutionary theory that science has not yet been able to figure out. But after watching “Flock of Dodos,” ask yourself, do we fill in the gaps with God? Should we just let that which can’t yet (emphasis on yet) go unanswered and chalk one up to the big guy? See this movie and you’ll probably be a little closer to your own answer.

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