'Intelligent Design' and Hard Times

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr asks where the scourges of hurricanes, drought, and famine fit into the debate over "intelligent design."

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DANIEL SCHORR:

On my 89th birthday I ask indulgence to depart from customary journalistic detachment.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Our very senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Into the long-running argument about creationism vs. evolution, there's lately been added a new catchphrase, a version of creationism called intelligent design. President Bush has staked out a non-position on the subject, which is that both sides ought to be properly taught in the schools of America in case there are some who haven't made up their minds. But as the president cut short his vacation by two days to deal with the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina, he might well have reflected that if this was the result of intelligent design, then the designer has something to answer for.

Rarely in my lifetime can I remember--aside from world wars, the Holocaust and plague epidemics--so much grievous pain visited upon the human species by human beings or by forces beyond their control. Drought, flood and famine, a deadly tsunami, war and insurrection, and the United States while fending off conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan leads the way in sales of arms to developing countries. Death and destruction seem not to be equal opportunity scourges. Hurricanes strike with greater force at well-heeled occupants of beach homes than inland residents. On the other hand, as The Wall Street Journal noted, the evacuation of New Orleans was a model of efficiency for those with cars, leaving the others to seek shelter in the Superdome.

Are hurricanes part of some mysterious design? The New York Times explains that the severity of hurricane seasons varies with the cycles of natural change in temperature over the Atlantic over several decades. Did you say natural? But where does natural come from? Oh, here we go again. This is Daniel Schorr.

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