By Steven E. Hodes, M.D.
Physician to Meta-Physician
The present dispute between proponents of teaching ‘science’ versus ‘Intelligent Design’ may actually be solvable.
What makes each side so passionate about their positions is quite simply that we are dealing with an individual’s metaphysical platform of beliefs. Nothing is more personally sacred than this platform upon which we build our models of reality.
Primal fear is a quality inherent to our species and we deal with this chaos by anchoring ourselves to basic belief systems. [Whether these systems are firmly planted or merely floating is another issue.] Religion serves that function for many. Science does so for others. We guard these basic postulates with our very lives because to upset them, to challenge them opens up the flood gates of confusion, chaos and fear.
Even a belief in no belief, atheism, is a metaphysical position upon which some build their models of reality. We can see quite easily how religious crusades, jihads emerge from such passionate defense against primal fear. Present day realities provide proof that we are supremely willing to martyr ourselves as individuals in the defense of such tribal beliefs.
It is important to understand and appreciate science as it functions at its highest level. The scientific method of examination, experimentation, publishing, open discourse and the need to confirm through subsequent studies has and will continue to bring tremendous knowledge about he universe in which we live. Science always keeps the door open to falsifiability, the possibility of being proven wrong. And this is a powerful, open-minded approach to knowledge.
Of course when scientists begin to extend their views beyond what they have demonstrated by their own methods, they are entering the universe of metaphysics.
One example is to conclude that their is no spiritual reality because science has not uncovered it. The fallacy with that argument is simply that science may not be the appropriate venue for exploring this different conception of reality. Likewise, the argument from Intelligent Design that our universe reveal evidence of a higher Intelligence at work is likewise a metaphysical conclusion. It may or may not be true but it is not science.
The present scientific model of the ‘big bang’ theory of the creation of the universe often calls forward metaphysical interpretations by both scientists and theologians. Whether this represents a divine creation or a quantum singularity remains speculative at present. The majority of cosmologists seems to conclude that the ‘big bang’ did occur. [Although some believe it was one of many prior cycles of creation and destruction]. The rest is metaphysics.
The need to answer metaphysical questions is an innate quality of human consciousness and nothing will deter mankind and womankind from doing so. Throughout history scientists have ventured into metaphysics. Albert Einstein was one of many.
I enjoy discussing the pros and cons of ‘Intelligent Design’ as much as anyone. My point is that such discussions should be expunged from the science classroom and undertaken under a different venue–namely a class on metaphysics and philosophy. That is extremely important because such debates and discussions are essential to any educational process and I believe crucial to the development of independent thought.
Remove this from the science classes and perhaps the debate can continue where it belongs. To me that would be evidence of ‘intelligent design’.
© Steven E. Hodes, MD., 2006
Steven E. Hodes, M.D. is a board certified gastroenterologist with over 25 years private practice based in Edison and Old Bridge New Jersey. He also has a degree in Religious Studies and teaches Contemporary Metaphysics at Brookdale College as well as lecturing and writing on Kabbalah and Healing, the Jewish View of Afterlife and on Near-Death Experience. Visit him at his Blog, Physician to Meta-Physician at www.meta-md.com