In the "Monkey Trial," 80 years ago, the issue was: Did John Scopes violate Tennessee law forbidding the teaching of evolution? Indeed he had. Scopes was convicted and fined $100.
But because a cheerleader press favored Clarence Darrow, the agnostic who defended Scopes, Christian fundamentalism — and the reputation of William Jennings Bryan, who was put on the stand and made to defend the literal truth of every Bible story from Jonah and the whale to the six days of creation — took a pounding.
The aim of his defenders was not to prove Scopes innocent, but to humiliate the fundamentalists and persuade a higher court to throw out the Tennessee law. But today, Darwinism is in the dock. Dogmatic believers in evolution are facing challenges to the claim that their doctrine is established truth, scientifically proven.
"Intelligent design" is the banner under which evolution is being put under siege, and the methodology of attack is the one Darrow used on Bryan: Prove to us that your theory is true, because it seems to contradict common sense.
If, for example, we are told a forest is uninhabited and, while walking in it, come across a garden, with plots of tomatoes, beans, corn and cabbage, reason tells us someone lives here. The garden presupposes the existence of a gardener, for it reflects intelligent design. As does Stonehenge, that millennia-old marvel of gigantic stones placed one upon the other in a fashion that is not accidental. Though we know not how it was done, an intelligent being did it.
The same is true of our universe. Not until recent centuries did we discover that the Earth is not its center but, with the other planets, revolves with mathematical precision around the sun. As a watch presupposes a watchmaker, an ordered universe argues for an ordered intelligence. Call it the First Cause, the Prime Mover, the Great Watchmaker, but this world appears to be no accident.
Our ordered universe was created out of chaos. Who or what created it? The latest theory of the evolutionists is the "Big Bang," a gigantic explosion, eons ago, did it.
But from common sense and experience, when — ever — has an explosion created order? Explosions destroy. And if the Big Bang was due to an explosion, where did the chemicals come from? And who lit the firecracker that caused the Big Bang?
As a wag has put it, to believe an explosion created an ordered universe is like believing a hurricane roaring through a junkyard can create a fifth-generation computer.
And there are gaps in human evolution. Where are the missing links between lower and higher forms? Where are the intermediate forms? Why are they not everywhere? As for that picture on the wall of the biology class, showing a reptile crawling ashore, then moving on four legs, then dragging his knuckles, then straightening up, then walking on two legs, then becoming the man of today — is that really how it happened? Or is that a theory, a belief, an act of faith of the Darwinists? Is there really all that much difference between that picture and one of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?
Science itself points to intelligent design. For most of man’s existence, we did not understand the laws of gravity, the laws of physics, the laws of chemistry. But applying those laws today, we can send a rocket millions of miles and strike a distant planet, predicting impact to the minute. But does not the existence of these natural laws imply the existence of a lawmaker?
How can evolution explain the creation of that extraordinary instrument, the human eye? How can it explain DNA? Only in the last century did we understand that molecules can be broken down into atoms and subatomic particles, and the force that holds them together. Did all this come out of nothing? If it all came from something, where did the something come from?
What causes a disbelief in Darwinian fundamentalism, the Genesis of our secular elite, is not only Christian faith, but reason.
In an editorial, "But Is It Intelligent?" the Washington Post accuses President Bush, who spoke warmly of intelligent design, of "indulging quackery." "To pretend that the existence of evolution is still an open question," sniffed the Post, "is to misunderstand the intellectual and scientific history of the past century."
The Post notwithstanding, we are not pretending. Evolution fails to answer the arguments of reason. And parents have a right not to have their children indoctrinated in an unproven belief system, one purpose of which is to destroy their faith.
A Solomonic solution. Let parents choose between having their kids spend a year in biology class cutting up those poor frogs and being indoctrinated in evolution ideology — or a year studying the Old and New Testaments as the greatest book of Western Civilization and literature, and the basis of morality and ethics. As they say, freedom of choice.