I've just read The Crusade Against Evolution in this month's issue of Wired and am stunned that the myth of Intelligent Design can actually stand shoulder-to-shoulder with evolution in the public arena.
ID supporters seek to distort facts, misquote their opponents, and propose dubious ethnocentric alternatives--hmmm, who does that remind you of--to undermine evolution as the explanation of life's diversity. Darwinian evolution has come a long way. Darwin's original theories were based on observations limited by the tools and scientific context of his time. He was unaware of the mechanism of transmitting heritable characteristics to offspring, elucidated by Gregor Mendel at the turn of the century. Darwin also felt that evolution operated at the level of the individual organism. Today, most biologists believe that the selective pressures act at the level of the gene in its milieu within the genome and the environment beyond its "gene machine", the organism in which it resides. This latter revision of evolution is eloquently and engagingly discussed in Richard Dawkins' book, The Selfish Gene, published nearly three decades ago.
You can read Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species in its entirety online at bartleby.com. I also suggest you read anything by Richard Dawkins, especially The Blind Watchmaker, and Climbing Mount Improbable.
A novel like Robert J Sawyer's Calculating God is a wonderful and provocative fiction. Some have misinterpreted this work as support for ID. I have no doubt that the author intended to introduce or promote the notion to his readership. But a reader cannot be so credulous as to read a book that begins with an alien demanding, "Take me to your paleontologist," as a legitimate refuation of evolution or proof of a designer intervening in life's pageant on our planet. It is a gedanken experiment.
Any thoughtful examination of today's evidence would conclude that creationism, intelligent design, and darwinism are all incorrect. Reductionist evolutionary theory based on genetic selection is the best fit to the data.
The trouble with America begins in its schools, with a pledge that invokes allegiance to a nation under God every day. The smug chauvinism this engenders, the belief that the nation's pre-eminence is a consequence of divine providence, that God has a hand in anything America does, is the surest path to a self-righteous and self-serving foreign policy that respects others as long as Americans can prosper as a result. It is also a path to ignorance and conflict. If Americans wish to confuse and confound their educational system with theology cloaked in scientific rhetoric, that's bad for everyone.