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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Australia Ok With Intelligent Design?

[Media Source*]

(CNSNews.com) The debate over whether "intelligent design" should be taught in schools has taken hold in Australia, where the country's education minister [Brendan Nelson] said students should be exposed to the theory...

"As far as I'm concerned, students can be taught and should be taught the basic science in terms of the evolution of man, but if schools also want to present students with intelligent design, I don't have any difficulty with that. It's about choice, reasonable choice."

Brendan Nelson, who seems (according to the article) to be an evolutionists, has no problems with the theory of intelligent design, so long as it does not replace evolution. The theory of intelligent design mentions nothing about God but points to an "invisible hand" involved in the design of life on our planet. Although this fact has been clearly laid out by scientists who support this theory, many critics see the Intelligent Design argument as nothing more than a front for Creationism.

John G. West of the Discovery Institute, a Christian thinktank that campaigns for the teaching of Intelligent Design, says a major misunderstanding of the theory is that it is based on religion rather than science.

"While intelligent design may have religious implications (just like Darwin's theory), it does not start from religious premises," he wrote this week.

While many people attempt to label all intelligent design supporters as "biblical creationists in disguise," the truth of the matter is that the theory of intelligent design has nothing to do with God. Proponents for the theory often remind their critics of this fact, as many scientists are deists and theists, not necessarily religious.

Children, especially teenagers are pretty capable of deciding things for themselves, especially when it comes to inner beliefs. By simply providing them another avenue of choice, students are forced to critique their worldview and discover what is truth for themselves. To deny them this would be nothing more than a great disservice to them but to us as well as we would not be allowing the leaders of tomorrow to shape their own opinions about the events of the past.

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Please present for us the tests that IDers use to determine the characteristics of the Creator or Creators. How do they determine if something has been designed and how do they explain how this design was conceived of and carried out (irreducable complexity is not a good answer, by the way. It just demonstrates Behe's lack of knowledge of current biological science)? What do the Iders see as the mechanisms for initial design? What is the hypothesis offered by IDers of the Creator's abilities and evidence of his, her, its or their handiwork?

These are really rhetorical questions, because the IDers don't offer answers to any of them. The ID philosophy is one that is almost entirely negative: that is, it is geared only towards attacking the current paradigm, evolution. What does it offer in way of explaining the way life functions? That it was willed into existence?

My problem with ID is not that it is religion in disguise (although, if you are familiar with men like Jonathan Wells I don't know how you can maintain that it is not). Rather, it is that it simply is not a scientific theory. It does not explain how things happened in a way that can be tested, that can be measured and that can be falsified.

The basic argument is that "we think the universe is too complex and too well balanced to be a product of natural occurance. So, there must have been an intellect behind it. We can't describe the intellect. we can't offer any testable hypothesis about the intellect, nor about the methods it used to create everything. And, given this, there is no way that our hypothesis can be defined as philosophy, not science, because we will just keep insisting that it is right."

Would you advocate teaching flat Earth theory too? They offer the same proof (hey, you can't see the curvature of the Earth) and the same negative attacks on scientific theory (the evidence from used by proponents of the "round Earth" has been misread or falsified). Flat Earthers have a coherent set of beliefs that they think explains the observable universe. Should that be taught too? Or, why not any other belief? In some places in South Eastern Africa, it is believed that sleepy with a virgin will cure you of AIDS. Should that be taught? In Kenya, it is widely believed that if a recent widow does not sleep with a male relative of her dead husand, sickness will strike her village. Should that make it into biology class?

Obviously, I'm not advocating actually teaching any of this. My point is that, like ID, these are all beliefs that some people find explain the world around them to their satisfaction. None are scientific theories however.

Until the IDers can come up with even a theoretical model of the creating intelligence and how it functions, then they are in the same category as people who think the Earth is flat; an interesting socio-cultural phenomenon and nothing more.

As I've said on my site and elsewhere, I have no problem with ID being taught in a sociology class, one that would examine a variety of belief systems and compare how they cope with the questions that humanity has been asking since we left the trees: why are we here? what is the meaning of existence? is there anything beyond what we can see and hear?

But, to offer it as a alternative scientific theory overstates what ID offers and demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what science is.

As always, in my humble opinion.

By Blogger Jeff, at 11:11 AM EDT  

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By Darnell Clayton • 11:46 PM • Email Post • •


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