When biological discourse is sterilized so that astonishment and amazement give way to matter-of-factness - when "gee whiz" yields to "ho hum" - students will be less tempted to think they're gazing into the mind of God when they peer into their microscopes. Darwinian materialists everywhere would rejoice at such a denouement even if it came at the cost of diminishing the natural excitement students might feel when they learn the intricacies of the immune system or protein transcription.
Well, it appears that a lot of biologists have come to the conclusion that biology teaching does indeed need to be scrubbed of any misleading teleological overtones. The problem, it seems, is that biologists have a hard time talking about the things they study without resorting to that dreaded word design.
Casey Luskin at Evolution News and Notes reports on the movement among biologists to rid themselves of the cursed locution that ensnares potential young proselytes to naturalism by suggesting that there really is design in nature. Here's just one of several examples Luskin has dug up:
A recent article in the journal Bioessays by its editor Andrew Moore, titled "We need a new language for evolution. . . everywhere," suggests that biologists should stop using the term "design." According to Moore, under "Evolution old-speak" we would say, "Structure X is designed to perform..." but under "Evolution new-speak" we must simply say, "Structure X performs Y." If there's any doubt that Moore is worried about the intelligent design implications of the language used by biologists, consider the following passage from his article:Luskin notes the irony of Moore's decision to call his "new language" Newspeak. Newspeak, of course, is exactly what the totalitarian thought police in George Orwell's novel 1984 called their language. Newspeak was an attempt to deceive people into believing what the government wanted them to believe by truncating some words and completely deleting others. It was a form of thought control which shaped people's perceptions of reality.
"A banal example shows how an apparently trivial change in words can radically change perceived meaning: to accomplish metabolic process X, enzyme Y evolved a specificity for Z. In an objective scientific sense, we should phrase this as 'in accomplishing X, Y concomitantly evolved a specificity for Z'. It is that innocent little word 'to' that transforms the meaning, giving enzyme Y the essence of 'will' - 'to' being short for 'in order to', or 'with the purpose of'. Purpose can only be exercised by a supernatural entity in this situation."
Apparently Moore is so worried about any implications of language that might be friendly towards intelligent design that he's unwilling to even state that any particular structure exists "to" perform some function. Clearly this shows that evolutionary thinking is taking biology into the realm of the absurd.
Doubtless that's exactly what Moore and the others Luskin quotes in his piece have in mind when they propose banning the word design from all biological discourse.