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Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Deceptive argument in Boston Legal last night. (I know, it's Sunday's, but I recorded it.) The firm is defending a school board for firing teachers who refused to teach Intelligent Design (aka Creationism) along with evolution, on the excellent grounds that Intelligent Design is religion, not science.

The firm made bad arguments in favor of the school board, which however went un-answered, and in the end it won.

Maybe this is all part of the swing to the right the States is going through, but I'm appalled. If you make political arguments in a show and let them go unanswered, it amounts to an endorsement, because people, unfortunately, trust TV to inform them.

When Aaron Sorkin wrote political arguments, he gave the right-wingers very good arguments, even though he obviously doesn't agree with them. He also gave the liberals terrific arguments. (Basically, he gave everyone terrific arguments.)

For the record, it is not even vaguely true that an increasing number of scientists are coming around to the idea that evolution can't account for the complexity of human life. Of course it can. It does. The fossil record has by now millions of well-documented cases of adaptation of this or that structure in one species becoming another structure in another species. To say "it's all too complex" is just to say you lack imagination, and also you lack understanding of how long four billion years really is.

There are, essentially, no real scientists for believe in Intelligent Design. That's because Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory. Why? Because it is not falsifiable.

A scientific theory can be disproven. Intelligent Design cannot be disproven, because it supposes that the world was built like a clock, wound up, and set running. There is no piece of evidence that could disprove it, because any evidence we find could just be something else that the Intelligent Designer threw into the design for the fun of it.

Evolution, on the other hand, can be disproven. If you could find a species that just appeared out of nowhere, with DNA that in no way matched the species on Earth, and it was too complex to have appeared from space, then evolution would have to be scrapped, or at least modified.

For my part, I think Intelligent Design also insults God. Would a being of infinite power and wisdom build billions of little creatures? Or would She create a few rules of awesome simplicity yet unlimited power and flexibility, that allowed billions of little creatures to grow out of one complicated molecule? The more I know about nature, the more I'm in awe of its complexity and its simplicity. That's evidence of the Goddess, I think.

TV has a responsibility to tell the truth. Characters in shows don't have to tell the truth. But the show as a whole has to tell the truth. If there's politics in a show, you have a responsibility to present the arguments as well as they can be presented, so that people can make an intelligent choice which side to root for. When your show has an audience of millions of people, you have an awesome responsibility. Sloppy writing won't cut it.


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