< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://davejustus.com/" >

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

More on Intelligent Design

Brian's post that I linked to earlier today has given rise to a fairly lengthy comment thread, and spawned some tangental thoughts of mine that I think would be better placed here, rather than my cluttering up his comments further. First, I like the idea of intelligent design predominently because I think a creator is a nice idea. This certainly has no scientific basis and is purely a matter of faith. I also think that for the most part God chose evolution as the means of creating the variety of life that we see on earth. I am willing to concede that it may in fact be the only method God used. For me, intelligent design has two hypothesis. One, that their is a designer who set up the universe a certain way (almost certainly unprovable) and that this designer has intervened in the evolutionary process and has left traces of that intervention in the evolutionary record (possibly provable, but difficult to do and probably not disprovable.) Now, if the second hypothesis is correct (something I am very unsure of) it would be extremely valuable to be able to prove it. It would change the way we look at life on Earth dramatically. To prove it you would have to find a change in a life form that is impossible to explain in any other way. Unfortunately, the fossil record is far from complete. Evolution takes place over such a long period of time that these changes are difficult to observe. Certainly it is also true that only a small portion of creatures leave any record of their existence. Intelliegent Design proponants have in fact identified several areas that they feel are good candidates for this proof. Obviously other scientists disagree, and certainly I don't think the ID folks have found anything yet that is a slam dunk. I don't believe they ever will. If the Designer is God, I think he is too clever to leave anything so obvious. This is where I think ID is most useful though. Not as a theory in and of itself, but as a fertile ground for criticism of an existing theory. I expect that over time most, perhaps all, of the gaps that ID theorists claim to exist will be explained. They will be explained precisely because ID proponants point them out and other Scientists will look at these gaps and discover explainations for them. As a result, we will learn more and more about how life works and the wonders of creation. This is also how I think ID should be taught in schools, as a criticism to an existing science. No scienctific theory should ever be treated as so sacred, so proven that it is beyond criticism, beyond people asking 'Well yeah, but what about this? How does this thing work?' That is the essence of science.


Blogger Greg said...

Remember the Far Side comic strip featuring a scientist at a blackboard, long detailed equation written thereon, with the middle step "Then a miracle happens?" That's intelligent design. It doesn't need to be taught, since by definition an omnipotent divine being can do anything.

It is very appropriate to point out those gaps in the evolutionary record as things the theory of evolution can't fully explain. But ultimately, it should be taught that another theory, or a revision to the theory, will fill those gaps. Nothing is gained by saying that God is responsible for evolutionary jumps, since God can do anything.

3/10/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mystic Knight said...

“No scientific theory should ever be treated as so sacred, so proven that it is beyond criticism, beyond people asking 'Well yeah, but what about this? How does this thing work?'”

I agree. On my website I purposely write articles in an attempt to invoke an emotion in people so that they will join in the discussions. Many strong Christian types get defensive and think I'm some sort of devil worshiper or something.

My goal is to spark conversations about many topics, and one of my favorite ones is on religion. The “hidden agenda” on my site is that I truly want people to stop by and provide their arguments and views on their religion, regardless of what that system of their belief is based on.

Sure I argue, but I would expect to receive just as good as I give out. Unfortunately, my conclusions to date are that people do not come to my site and join in on discussions in my forums because they cannot effectively present their side of their beliefs. That's just sad.

Most religious people I speak with no virtually nothing about their own religion other then that is what has been handed down through their family. They are blindly following a religious belief because that's the way it's always been. Isn't it sad that a family teaches their children that they must follow a certain religion, but have no idea why?

Now I fear I have hijacked your blog for my own sordid agenda. I tend to go off on a tangent from time to time... :)

3/10/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Your point it well taken.

However, one could find evidence of intelligent design without finding any evidence of God.

For example, human genetic engineering is Intelligent Design, not evolution and presumably a biologist could determine if it was one or the other (if they could not, that raises a whole bunch of other questions.)

I don't believe our earth was seeded by Aliens, but hey it's possible. And I certainly hope that in the future we manage to export life to other planets, much of it probably being designed life.

That far side comic could be read either for and against. If the best science can tell us is that 'then a miracle happens' (i.e. we don't understand) then it is possible (however remote that you view that possibility) that a miracle is exactly what occured.

I guess what it boils down too, is that in Science it is as important to teach what we DON'T know as it is to teach what we DO know.

3/10/2005 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger tsykoduk said...

"For example, human genetic engineering is Intelligent Design, not evolution and presumably a biologist could determine if it was one or the other (if they could not, that raises a whole bunch of other questions.)"

I think, once our skills reach a certain point, we will not be able to tell if a DNA strand had been modified or not.

I think that the issue with ID is that it's entire basis is illogical, and unprovable. There are just too many holes in the entire concept of Godhead to really take it seriously. We are not talking about niggling little issues - but determinism vs free will and the whole issue of events with out causes.

I think that ID should be taught as philosophy - not science. I think that any time we start to talk about the appearance of self awareness/consciousness we are dipping out of hard science and into philosophy.

It is the age old question - where did we come from and why are we here? Science cannot answer those questions, and should not try.

3/10/2005 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

ID properly doesn't speculate as to the nature of the designer (although certainly many of it's adherent's believe that the designer is God.)

I think it is fair, if you are given two unexplainables alternatives, i.e. a complex phenomenom evolved in a way we can't explain or a complex phenomenom was insterted by an unknown designer to determine which is more likely, absent proof. There are many scientific theories that operate on just that basis and this doesn't make them junk, it just makes them a best guess.

It is always the case in this situation that different people will decide differently which alternative is more likely, probably depending upon other preconcieved notions of the universe.

As I have said, ID is much more useful as a criticism than as a science itself, and were the commenters here (and on Brian's site) uniformly in favor of ID and presenting it as a hard science I would probably argue strongly against them. I see both sides of this debate.

Mostly my conclusion is that anyone who thinks they have a corner on truth and their explanation explains all has left science behind and crossed over to religion, regardless of whether that belief is in a divine designer or evolution.

3/10/2005 03:31:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home