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The Intelligent Design of Christmas:

Any minute now, pundits and content creators will begin to weigh in on the “best” and “worst” of this year. Those lists will be funny and fun to read, but they’ll have the somewhat limited perspective of revealing to us that, yes, people sometimes make bad movies.

Frankly, I prefer bigger targets. And thus I was drawn to several articles pointing out that, like a bad movie adrift in a pile of discounted DVDs, the concept of “intelligent design” was losing steam and fading from the academic landscape. It seems like only yesterday many of us were quite agitated about it. Now, as the year draws to a close, intelligent design has become something of a pop has-been… “The Knack” of scientific theories.

Intelligent design asserts that the complexity of biological life is itself evidence of a higher being at work. As a specific example, some proponents talk about the scientific use of the term “black box” to indicate some thing or some system whose inner workings are unknown. At various times those mysteries would have included the atom, the cancer cell, gravity, the speed of light, fire, how squirrels know when to hoard nuts, and, more recently, why Bill Bennett constantly needs more cash.

To give the theory its due, there are still plenty of “black boxes” in our understanding of the world and all things in it. And no one is immune to finding awe in nature. But efforts to mix intelligent design into the teachings of science have generally fallen flat, even though luminaries of science such as the Pope and President Bush have endorsed the advancement of the theory.

The problem seems to be that at a certain point, you run out of research that backs up the theory as it compares to evolution. Then you just have to ‘go’ with it. However, that might be interesting to think about at this time of the year when so much energy is devoted to celebrating what is generally referred to as a miracle. And I submit that there is an intelligent design to the holidays, and that it’s already serving us well this year.

True, we do more selfless things for others at just this one time of the year than in other months, although I prefer to look at that glass as half full. What’s coming into play already is the sobriety and reflection surrounding Christmas; the realizations and evaluations that come with the end of a year. And this year, baby, that hot coffee wake-up is already hitting us like a hammer.

Americans are now truly, fully, angrily fed up with the bloodshed in Iraq and with the clear and present danger of liars in the White House who manipulated the facts to get us into Iraq. And the stark contrast between the holiday’s message of peace and the continued loss of lives there is bringing everything into painfully sharp focus.

At other times of the year we’re not enveloped in music and lights and marketing all aimed at reminding us, however circuitously, that peace and hope for humanity should be at the top of our “To Do” lists. You don’t have to necessarily be religious to appreciate this enormously useful feature in the design of Christmas.

But then, as with intelligent design, we’re left to work our way through the “black boxes.” Ultimately, some questions, such as “Why do we continue to resort to war to resolve conflict?” remain mysteries and cause us to question the concept of “progress.” And some may wonder what one short season of giving can do in a world bent on taking. Still, if the meaning of Christmas can move us to seek truth, especially when there has been a great plague of untruth, then hope does live in that intelligent pursuit.

This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz

1) Paramount Pictures may buy

(a) Dreamworks SKG

(b) sushi vending machines.

(c) Saddam Hussein’s book, “No

Smokes, No Justice.”

2) Turkey’s Islam-rooted

government is

(a) not big on holiday parties.

(b) trying to curb alcohol sales.

(c) now hiring!

3) Benzene in a Chinese river will

(a) likely dissipate in Russia.

(b) get out tough grass stains.

(c) create “albino trout.”

Answer Key

1) (a) “And of course, movies will

get better!”

2) (b) “Turkey: Come for the tea!”

3) (a) “My swimming trunks are on


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