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Intelligent Design & Science

Intelligent Design is not Science or Scientific


Advocates of Intelligent Design don’t want their beliefs taught in philosophy or history classes, they want them taught in science classes. Thus they need to portray Intelligent Design as scientific — after all, if it’s not science then why should it be taught in a Dover science class? By absolutely every standard and measure, however, Intelligent Design fails to qualify as even remotely scientific. Intelligent Design isn’t a part of science.

Wading through a mountain of scientific argument and testimony, Judge Jones singled out three reasons why Intelligent Design cannot be considered scientific:

    (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation;

    (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s; and

    (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community.

Judge Jones also noted that every major scientific association which has expressed any sort of opinion on the matter has agreed that Intelligent Design is not science. He quotes the National Academy of Sciences:

    “Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are restricted to those that can be inferred from the confirmable data – the results obtained through observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Anything that can be observed or measured is amenable to scientific investigation. Explanations that cannot be based upon empirical evidence are not part of science.”

Intelligent Design advocates’ hostility towards naturalism and desire to replace it with supernatural speculation received detailed analysis:

    This rigorous attachment to “natural” explanations is an essential attribute to science by definition and by convention. We are in agreement with Plaintiffs’ lead expert Dr. Miller, that from a practical perspective, attributing unsolved problems about nature to causes and forces that lie outside the natural world is a “science stopper.” As Dr. Miller explained, once you attribute a cause to an untestable supernatural force, a proposition that cannot be disproven, there is no reason to continue seeking natural explanations as we have our answer.

    Prominent IDM leaders are in agreement with the opinions expressed by defense expert witnesses that the ground rules of science must be changed for ID to take hold and prosper. William Dembski, for instance, an IDM leader, proclaims that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper.

    The Discovery Institute, the think tank promoting ID whose CRSC developed the Wedge Document, acknowledges as “Governing Goals” to “defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies” and “replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”

Intelligent Design is touted as a science, but leading advocates admit that they need to eliminate one of the major defining characteristics of science.Why don’t they simply admit that their goal is to redefine what science is and how it works?

They do amongst themselves, but not so much when speaking to the rest of the public — perhaps because this would entail admitting that Intelligent Design is essentially a religious proposition is easier to believe for those who already accept basic religious — and Christian — premises:

    Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.

Science, as currently constructed, it supposed to be cross-cultural. It may have developed in the West, but it can be done in the context of any culture and still reach the same results. This is part of why we can rely on it so well. What Behe is admitting that his Intelligent Design beliefs are not cross-cultural because accepting depends, at least in part, on accepting a particular religious perspective which is at home in some places but foreign to others.

The so-called “science” of Intelligent Design has failed to produce anything of substance or any predictions which might be tested. If it were to become standard, it would be the “science” of America alone, rejected in the scientifically advanced nations of the West and irrelevant to the scientifically advancing nations of the rest of the world where conservative, evangelical Christianity doesn’t have the same hold.

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