Yesterday, I talked to a super-smart Master’s candidate who is presenting a paper on Diplomacy as a requirement to graduation.  This woman is one of the smartest, most intense people I have ever been privileged to know: the kind who does extra reading (beyond the normal amount of extra reading in graduate school), believes in turning out an elegant paper, and challenging accepted assumptions.

Her presentation is designed to challenge cultural assumptions in regard to the diplomacy of democratization and other social institutions (marriage/family, economic orders, politics/government, education, religions) by reviewing  sociological theories of communities and institutions.  Many of these theories use a kind of social “Darwinism”–not in the sense of genetic purity for society, but in terms of institutional/cultural diversity as adaptive behavior and survival of the fittest–and she is concerned that her classmates will repudiate her work on the  basis of intelligent design.

It’s quite frightening to me how much intelligent design has contaminated the boundaries of civics and science.  But in the end, this projected conflict may actually catapult her discussion into the region of discussion in which she wants to go.  Intelligent design may fit in with some presuppositions in democracies — that they are the highest and best form of government and mandated in the unfolding of the Intelligence’s code for society.  However, it is dangerous, is it not?  The idea of a Godly design brings one right to historic and current theocratic models of society.  Then two historical systems come forward for consideration: The Holy Roman Empire and the Caliphate.   And then there are those who believe that the United States has become an “American Theocracy” ; and if one wants to stretch it a bit, one could also talk about the historical imperatives of Marxism, which believed in a societal advance.  She could also end up discussing the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I wish I could be there.  What a grand argument she will have.

Wikipedia has a long, well-referenced article on Intelligent Design: though it does not favor the concept, it has enough information to give much of both sides, as well as a comprehensive history of the idea.

Also, further reading for those that don’t know how to quit:
Hegel’s Philosophy of History and Fukuyama’s End of History and the Last Man.
When I get her paper, I will copy some of her reading notes into this post.

Good luck, Texas gal!