Monday, September 26, 2005

“Now do puppies!” pleaded Vishnu. “And kitties!”

I was going to post about something else and then a headline caught my eye:

'Intelligent design' rule faces court test
Washington — A rule instructing high school biology teachers to tell students that "intelligent design" is a viable scientific alternative to evolution faces its first challenge in a federal court today.

The suit was brought by 11 parents in the Pennsylvania town of Dover who charge the school board is attempting to promote a religion, Christianity, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit has made Dover — a town 100 miles west of Philadelphia with five elementary schools, one intermediate school and one high school — the scene of the first courtroom battle of the new century in a national struggle over whether alternatives to evolution should be forced into high school texts.

So what about intelligent design?

Intelligent design is not science, it has no testable hypotheses, no proposed methodologies, no research data. It is derived from its own claims. Its philosophical arguments have been rejected by the science community."

--Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science

Here's a link to a nice long article with lots of reasons for discarding the idea:

Intelligent Design


A 2005 national survey by the Harris polling agency found that 54% say they do not believe humans evolved from earlier species, while 64% believe that human beings were created directly by God.

To deny that God has the power to create living things using natural selection is to assert something unknowable. It is also inconsistent with the belief in an omnipotent Creator. There is no inconsistency in believing in God the Creator of the universe and in natural selection. Natural selection could have been designed by God. Or, natural selection could have occurred even if God did not exist. Thus, the first of several fallacies committed by ID defenders is the false dilemma.

There is also much hypocrisy and deceit in a movement that does not refer to God in published documents as the intelligent designer, but opens its public presentations with a Christian prayer and doesn't hesitate to refer to God when alternatives such as aliens as the designers are brought up.* Dembski puts it this way:

Intelligent design is a modest position theologically and philosophically. It attributes the complexity and diversity of life to intelligence, but does not identify that intelligence with the God of any religious faith or philosophical system. The task for the Christian who accepts intelligent design is therefore to formulate a theology of nature and creation that makes sense of intelligent design in light of one’s Christian faith.*

In other words, you Christians know who the intelligent designer is even though we don't mention Him by name!

To teach ID properly would be to demonstrate to the students that nothing of scientific interest follows after one posits an external agent to explain something. To say the eye was designed by God or an alien race is to say: Stop, go no further in trying to understand this. Students might be taught that ID is just the kind of theory that some philosophers and theologians find interesting but since it doesn't lead to any deeper understanding of biological mechanisms, doesn't lead to new discoveries or research ventures, and doesn't have any practical scientific applications, it is left to those in other fields to pursue. A good biology teacher ought to be able to explain why ID, even if true, is of little scientific interest in about 15 or 20 minutes. That should leave plenty of time for them to instruct their students in science.

It has it's humorous side:

Have you seen Intelligent Design in the New Yorker? It's a wonderful parody. Best line: “Now do puppies!” pleaded Vishnu. “And kitties!”

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