Friday, October 07, 2005

Post #200: Will Intelligent Design win?

On of the reasons that I love Tech Central Station is that they have a recurring interest in adressing the popular interest in Intelligent Design and evolutionary theories. Today they have two articles on the subject and this post will be devoted to discussing "Why Intelligent Design is Going to Win?" while saving a discussion of "Descent of Man in Dover" for a later date.

The arguments here are organized under five summary statements. The first is that:
ID will win because it's a religion-friendly, conservative-friendly, red-state kind of theory, and no one will lose money betting on the success of red-state theories in the next fifty to one hundred years.
This section reads almost like an extended apology for the ID movement: of course ID will be brought to schools around the nation by sheer force, but it won't really hurt anyone and you'll still be able to believe what you like and maybe the sciences will end up being better off in the long run.

In a different context, this section is what might be called a "target-rich" environment since some of the classic errors of ID supporters pop up here. The author illustrates how ID proponents extend intelligent design from biological theory to general principle of physics without evidence when he writes that "ID might make biology and the natural sciences more appealing to believers who might otherwise find science to be too far removed from God's presence." The author also asserts that "The God of Moses and Jesus didn't leave fingerprints at this scene, but it's His MO all the way." This is the classic logical error of ID proponents who assume that God is the intelligent designer even though ID theories purport to make no such claim. The author also seems to ignore the fact that the truth or falsity of a theory may have an effect on its success. For example, if ID theories are false, then how could they possibly be friendly to any serious political movement? For the conservative movement to assert discredited scientific theories as if they were true is a recipe for political suicide in the long run, not for success.

Unfortunately, section one is about as good as the argument gets. The argument of section two is that "ID will win because the pro-Darwin crowd is acting like a bunch of losers." Think about this for a second. The pro-Darwin crowd have been rapidly advancing the frontiers of knowledge for decades, while the ID proponents are spending all of their time essentially trying to explain why things that we know exist shouldn't exist. Obviously it's not the pro-Darwin crowd that's acting like losers here.

Part three is even worse when it states that "ID will win because it can be reconciled with any advance that takes place in biology, whereas Darwinism cannot yield even an inch of ground to ID." If we define a scientific theory as one that can, in principle, be falsified, then this is just the bare statement that ID theories are not scientific theories.

Part four's assertion is that "ID will win because it can piggyback on the growth of information theory, which will attract the best minds in the world over the next fifty years." One would expect the exact opposite assertion that information theory will help further discredit ID, since any insight that information theory would provide into biology would only undercut the non-existence proofs being generated by the ID movement.

The final section's assertion is that "ID will win because ID assumes that man will find design in life -- and, as the mind of man is hard-wired to detect design, man will likely find what he seeks." In other words, even if ID is false, human beings are just stupid enough to believe in it anyway.

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