Intelligent Design


I’ve compared Christian fundamentalism favorably with Fundamentalist Islam a couple of times lately, and that, combined with a conversation I had the other day regarding the GOP gubernatorial candidate here in Michigan, is today’s somewhat twisted muse.

Even if he believes it, and I think he does, Dick DeVos did not have to say out loud that Intelligent Design needed to be taught in Michigan high school science classrooms. This probably cost him my vote. It is sort of a final straw. His commercial bashing big oil for high gas prices was the start of my disaffection. (I know, Jennifer did that too – and worse – but he’s supposed to understand business.) I think I’ll pass on that ballot choice.

But back to Intelligent Design. I have difficulty with this being represented as science because any theory which pleads from supernatural causes cannot, by definition, be falsifiable. Ultimately, you have to accept the explanation; “that’s the way God made it.”

It isn’t just that no experiment has been suggested which could test this theory, it’s that no experiment can possibly be proposed that could test this theory. I reject direct revelations from a Supreme Being. The available literature suggests those to be intensely private in common practice.

I am confused as to why, scientifically, the “theory” is even necessary. Surely God could have used the mechanism of natural selection if he wanted to? Why must Darwin be false? Intelligent Design is only necessary to accomodate the literal biblical account of creation.

A practical problem is giving other creation myths equal classroom standing. Like other religions, Voodoo has a creation myth; Danbhalah, the Serpent, and Aida-Wedo, the Rainbow, taught men and women how to procreate, and how to make blood sacrifices so they could become the spirit and obtain the wisdom of the Serpent. Polytheistic religions apparently will need their own special unit in our science classes.

In common with conspiracy theories, any objection is assumed to be proof that the theory is correct. Why did God plant all those fossils if the world is only 4,000 or 10,000 or 1,000,000 years old? To test our faith. Why does ontogeny (mostly, sort of) recapitulate phylogeny? To test the faith of those who took high school biology in the 60s.

Natural Selection is probably wrong in many particulars. Darwin thought so. It may even be wrong in fundamental ways. If so, we will find out because predictions made by the theory fail experimental test.

I would like to hear news of an experiment which could falsify Intelligent Design, or even a prediction based on it. Until there is a testable prediction, ID cannot qualify as science.

3 thoughts on “Intelligent Design”

  1. You withhold your vote from DeVos for stating that Intelligent Design should be taught in Public School Science, not because he claims Intelligent Design to be scientific.Thus there is a false premise in your argument. Does anybody out there really believe that Public School “Science” is really about science? No, surely not. Global warming, envioronmentalism, exploitation of the undeveloped counries, endangered species, etc. are political issues as taught in our schools.Thus rendered moot is the question of whether Intelligent Design is science or not, at least as it pertains to whether it should be included in the Public School System curriculum.

  2. I knew that aside should have been saved for a separate post. There are other reasons for rejecting Dick DeVos. He caved on the civil rights initiative, in addition to his attitude towards oil companies (already mentioned). That would be three strikes, swinging.But, to the secondary point – that it matters, voting-wise – whether Dick DeVos is claiming Intelligent Design to be scientific merely because he wants it to be taught in science classes.Since he has declared himself on the subject of teaching Intelligent design in science classes we are left with just two scenarios. 1-Devos thinks ID is science and he wants it taught in science classes. 2-DeVos does not think ID is science and wants it taught in science classes. Either way, he wants it taught in science classes. I do reject him for that reason. We don’t care if he is also claiming that ID is scientific. Is there anything else of significance to distinguish between the two choices? If he does not believe ID is science, he is promoting something he does not believe for political gain. This is doubly stupid, because no one who would favor a candidate because he would promote ID in science classes was going to vote for Granholm anyway.If he does believes ID is science… exactly the same argument applies politically. The difference is that DeVos had not been the hypocrite he was in the first instance.He’s either a hypocrite or he’s irrational. If he’s irrational my arguments would justify witholding my vote, but if he’s a hypocrite I’ve missed the point? In the matter of voting for DeVos, this is too nuanced for me.On the main point, that the question of whether ID is science is moot under the special circumstances, I missed the part of the DeVos message that said that teaching religion in science classes is OK because “our science classes are already full of junk. What’s a little more?”That actually could have been a good start – he could have said, “See how stupid that sounds? We have parents who would like their children to learn Intelligent Design, and not Natural Selection. They should have that right, just as parents who don’t want their children taught Intelligent Design should have their opinion respected. No state agency can navigate these shoals and should not have to. Let the market sort it out, we’ll see who is employable upon graduation. We all know the current system is not working. That is why we need choice in schools, and my administration will do everything possible to give that control back to parents.” That would have secured the same base as embracing ID and would have alienated fewer people. Me, for example. It’s also something DeVos used to support. Strike four, looking.I agree that government schools teach that environmentalism is untestable. No evidence can be presented to the believers that does not reinforce their thesis. However, I do not think we can solve the problem of teaching environmentalism as state-religion by teaching religion as science. What is required is changing the schools.The question of whether Intelligent Design is science is not rendered moot by the failure of public schools to teach science, even – and especially – in those very schools.

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