Sunday, November 13, 2005

Intelligent Design - Fool Me Once...

"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once -- shame on -- shame on you. You fool me, you can't get fooled again."

George W. Bush, September 17, 2002
(Just thought this bit of wisdom from our leader was appropriate here.)

Listen to audio.

I have been thinking a bit about the Intelligent Design (ID) imbroglio after noting that Pope Benedict XVI quoted a fourth century saint, Basil the Great, to support his remarks. What the Pope said was that the universe was created by an "...intelligent project..." The Pope went on to quote St. Basil the Great (via Live Science): ",,,saying some people, 'fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance.'

"'How many of these people are there today? These people, fooled by atheism, believe and try to demonstrate that it's scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order,'' he said.

"With the sacred Scripture, the Lord awakens the reason that sleeps and tells us: In the beginning, there was the creative word. In the beginning, the creative word -- this word that created everything and created this intelligent project that is the cosmos -- is also love.''

I suspect there are a whole lot of scientists who believe profoundly in Darwin's THEORY of evolution and who are NOT atheists, as the Pope apparently believes. However, I suspect those same scientists (whatever their religious beliefs may be) do not believe Intelligent Design belongs in public school classrooms--even in Topeka.

Intelligent Design is religion. If the Pope quotes a fourth century saint to support his argument then, yes, there's a wee bit of a suggestion that ID harks from that thing we call blind faith which is the fundamental component of religion, all religions. That's fine. Preach ID from the pulpit; holy roll it and speak it in tongues; let Pat Robertson, once again, make himself look foolish (maybe a bit of demetia setting in) when he pontificates on the subject. This is all okay. But, keep it out of the schools. It's religion.

An excellent article in Live Science reports that: In an August interview with National Public Radio, Republican Senator and ID supporter Rick Santorum stated exactly what he believed those implications were for evolution. Asked why he, a politician, felt compelled to weigh in on what was essentially a scientific debate, Santorum replied:

"It has huge consequences for society. It's where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply the result of chance? If we are the result of chance, if we're simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn't put a moral demand on us."

By adding morality to the equation, Santorum is giving the scientific theory of evolution a religious message, one that does not come on its own, said Kenneth Miller, a biologist at the University of Colorado.Like Santorum, Miller is a devout Roman Catholic, but he believes evolution can only explain how life arose and how it diversified. Why there is life at all is another question entirely, one that Miller believes is outside the realm of science.

Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, expressed a similar sentiment. "The questions of purpose are not part of science," Krauss said. "How you interpret the results of science is up to you, and it's based on your theological and philosophical inclinations."


article in Live Science provides an excellent explication of why Intelligent Design (ID) is NOT science. The article takes pains to provide both sides of this issue and focus on two principles which are key to the argument: irreducible complexity and specified complexity. If you have the time and want to understand the meat of this issue, you really ought take a look.

Finally, Live Science provides the following conclusion:
After examining ID's two main arguments, the answers to the original questions--what does ID offer? And what can ID explain that evolution can't?--is not much and nothing, leading scientists say.

"The most basic problem [with ID] is that it's utterly boring," said William Provine, a science historian at Cornell University in New York. "Everything that's complicated or interesting about biology has a very simple explanation: ID did it."

Evolution was and still is the only scientific theory for life that can explain how we get complexity from simplicity and diversity from uniformity.

ID offers nothing comparable. It begins with complexity--a Supreme Being--and also ends there. The explanations offered by ID are not really explanations at all, scientists say. They're more like last resorts. And, scientists argue, there is a danger in pretending that ID belongs next to evolution in textbooks.

"It doesn't add anything to science to introduce the idea that God did it," Provine told LiveScience. Intelligent design "would become the death of science if it became a part of science."

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