Science, Just Science

23 April 2007

ID Is Here To Stay

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design — Kyuuketsuki @ 10:42 am

*** Originally posted by Tim Hague at SJS ***

I’m going to jump the gun a little and suggest that the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller vs. DASD case are probably going to win, and that Intelligent Design will be ruled to be of a religious nature, and not allowed to be taught in the classroom.

Assuming this happens this will be a blow to the ID movement, mostly from the PR point of view. A lot of people who don’t know much about ID or evolution are going to be informed by the court that ID is not science, and that it does not deserve to be taught as an alternative to evolution.

I don’t however believe that this will be a fatal blow to ID. There are number of reasons for thinking that it is going to be around for a while longer yet. Firstly, the defence in the case – who are on the side of ID – have already intimated that should they lose they will be appealing to case to the Supreme Court. The legal wrangles around ID are only just beginning, it seems.

The other reasons for thinking that ID will be around for a while lie in the nature of the arguments around ID, and those making the arguments. If you believe in God, and you believe God created (read ‘designed’) the world and everything in it, then ID becomes more ‘obvious’. You can clearly see the major ID proponents such as Behe and Dembski saying just that – “it’s obviously been designed”. It can be said to be obvious if your initial premise is that there is a divine creator. If you remove that initial premise however, the ‘obviousness’ of the design is somehow less… obvious. Something may appear to be designed, but in fact is not. A snowflake is a pretty good example of this, each is a unique, complex, crystalline structure, they certainly pass the ‘looks designed’ test. But they are not, they are formed by completely natural processes, no external intervention is required. So, we can have the ‘appearance’ of design, without actual design going on.

With the ‘obviously designed’ argument, you can say that the ID movement are starting with a conclusion (not usually a good sign). The conclusion is that there is a designer. Therefore design doesn’t even have to be inferred – it is essentially taken as read instead. So far, the ID movement has not presented any scientific evidence for the existence of the intelligent designer. They do however believe that an intelligent designer exists. And while they are coy in their publications about the identity of the designer (so they can avoid being immediately labelled as creationists), most of them have admitted in public that they believe the intelligent designer to be God.

It all boils down to belief. There is statement I have heard repeatedly from people with powerful beliefs – “I believe in it because it’s true. It’s true because I believe in it.” This is a circular argument, a form of logical fallacy.

This is why ID is here to stay. Most people who believe in it are going to carry on believing in it regardless. For many of them it doesn’t really matter what counter arguments you supply. You may be able to convince a small minority of believers that their belief is misplaced, but for most of them their belief doesn’t require proof, it doesn’t require testability, it doesn’t require falsifiablity. All it requires is certainty. The ID proponents certainly seem to have plenty of that.

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