Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Intelligent design is not science.

This article, about yet another debate over whether evolution is the the only theory of human origin to teach in science classes, caught my attention. As a good atheist, I have long thought that creationism is BS. The intelligent design argument has never sat well with me, but until taking a Philosophy of Science class this semester I have not had a good reason to argue why it should not be taught in science classes.

Creationism is blatantly religious, and most educated people would recognize that it has no place in science. Intelligent design, however, has more subtle supernatural undertones. Many people would argue that it is a viable theory, and that it is pretty much impossible to disprove. Therein lies the rub. One of the fundamental requirements of a scientific theory is that it is testable. Although, the balance of the currently available evidence supports the theory of evolution, if we were to discover fossils that demonstrated that humans lived before the early primates that scientists believe were our ancestors, the theory would no longer be justified. There is no corresponding test for intelligent design. One could claim that any evidence fits into this theory. This is not science. See here for more insight on this issue.

Another angle the proponents of intelligent design take is that they claim to be skeptical about the evidence for evolution. I tend to be skeptical about many things, so I can appreciate this position. However, in this case there seems to be very little to be skeptical about. The evidence supporting evolution is bountiful and coherent. There is no disagreement about this issue in the scientific community. Attempts to claim this is not the case are worse than claiming that there is no scientific consensus on climate change, and probably on par with the ad campaign the tobacco companies undertook years ago to try to convince people that scientists did not agree that smoking is harmful.

Although I disagree with intelligent design, I have no problem with people posing it as a possible explanation for our existence...as long as they don't do it in a science classroom. If someone can come up with a better *scientific* explanation than evolution, I'm all ears.

1 comment:

  1. I think another issue for people who are pro ID in schools is that they don't want the government deciding for their children that their beliefs are BS. On the one hand, schools are suppose to take a neutral stance on religion, but at the same time, they are slapping pretty much every major religion, particularly in the state, in the face. In fact, you could say they are promoting atheism which, I believe by Websters definition of religion, is a religions itself.

    Also, I don't really see the issue with providing insight into the beliefs of different cultures/groups of people and letting the students decide for themselves what they believe. Many "intelligent" Christians subscribe to both evolution and creationism.

    ReplyDelete