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The Creationists in Kansas are not well known for having a high threshold of tolerance. Who would have thought, though, coming off a successful campaign to force Kansas high school students to hear a bastardized, religiously inspired reinterpretation of biology, that Kansas Creationists would still feel victimized by the institutions of education?

It seems that Kansas Creationists are furious that the University of Kansas is teaching a course about modern mythology that includes Creationism and Intelligent Design in the category of mythologies. The course, being offered by the university’s department of religious studies, is entitled Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies.

John Calvert, managing director of the Kansas-based Intelligent Design Network, erupted into a fury as soon as he heard about the course, exclaiming that “To equate Intelligent Design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it’s just another example of labeling anybody who proposes [Intelligent Design] to be simply a religious nut.”

Is John Calvert right? Is it really absurd to equate Intelligent Design to mythology?

Paul Mirecki, chairman of the university’s department of religious studies, explains that Intelligent Design is founded upon beliefs that are based in religious faith, not scientific examination. The dependence of Intelligent Design upon religious faith has caused Intelligent Design followers to develop mythological stories that fill large gaps of knowledge in Intelligent Design with supposition - supposition about who the mythical Intelligent Designer was, and what motivated that Intelligent Designer, created to deal with the plain fact that there is no evidence whatsoever for an Intelligent Designer of life, any more than there is evidence for other divinities, like Odin, or Indra, or Quetzalcoatl.

Intelligent Design proponents have opted out of the system of scientific inquiry, refusing to submit rigorous research to peer-reviewed scientific journals. Instead, they have created an informal network of guesswork in which Intelligent Design believers speculate about supernatural beings and special magical processes for creating living beings out of inert materials in an alchemy-like process. There are many interesting mythological parallels between the developing Intelligent Design theology and the claims of alchemists during Europe’s Dark Ages.

Although Intelligent Design believers are not working with the scientific community, they are routinely collaborating with officials in the Catholic Church and other religious institutions, in order to develop Intelligent Design story lines that are in accordance with orthodox doctrines.

It's clear to any objective observer that Intelligent Design is developing as a new strain of mythology. But so what? Intelligent Design believers should be content to have their beliefs develop and be studied as mythology. After all, religion is a part of mythology - and a relatively recent part of it at that. Intelligent Design believers have created an unnecessary conflict by pretending that the point of religion is to be a science instead of a source of mythological insight. If Intelligent Design believers could understand that distinction, they would regard the new course at the University of Kansas as a complement, and not an insult.

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