Saturday, August 27, 2005

Science IS a way of looking!

Edward J. Larson says Intelligent Design is not science and I certainly don't know enough about it to absolutely disagree with him. However, some of his statements in this article, while better written than most all others I've read in the same vein, still tends to make some assertions with which I can't quite agree.

He says, "Darwinism is not a comforting world view for conscious, egotistical beings like us." If evolution is true, why shouldn't it provide comfort? If this life is all there is, certainly I could use that to my best advantage, as could anybody. Personally, I don't like the idea of ignorant bliss. I don't find any comfort in that at all. On the other hand, many racists seem to find quite a bit of comfort in viewing themselves superior to others and use perversions of evolution theory to support their view.

Then I have a few minor quibbles with some of his modifiers... "Intelligent design, despite its proponents' claims to the contrary, isn't modern science... It's part of that rebellion against it." "Science is a particular way of looking at natural phenomena." Why modern or natural? Isn't science, science? Phenomena is simply a thing observed? I saw an ID book in the bookstore the other day. I didn't buy it, but I think I could spot science verses crap. Now I may have to buy it to determine if it is or not. Stating that something is a rebellion against science requires some pretty demanding evidence if that something is being conducted in an objective way.

"Intelligent design, in contrast, is a critique of all that. Its proponents may challenge the sufficiency of evolutionary explanations for the origin of species but they have not — and cannot — offer testable alternative explanations."

So he's saying that ID is not just not science, but anti-science, a rebellion in his words. Personally, I don't think a rebellion every once in a while is such a bad thing. However, is ID the anti-science!

"The best they can offer is the premise that, if no natural explanation suffices, then God must have done it."

God (done it) is a conclusion. IDers seem to be steadfast in only claiming that there is evidence that some things were designed rather than possibly being the result of random actions. Is it scientific heresy to examine the argument? Claiming something is not science doesn't mean much. Examining an argument and making an argument against it (that actually addresses the points of the initial argument rather than sidestepping them which happens all too often) could very well be considered within the realm of science. If an argument is ridiculous, show it to be so! If it can't stand scrutiny, then scrutinize it! That's science!

"People prefer purpose in their origins." I agree. Might there be an explanation for that within the realm of science? Concocting an evolution hypothesis to explain it isn't much more scientific than the tooth fairy without some concrete evidence in support of the hypothesis which often seems to be lacking. We are often told to just accept it on the basis of some authoritive voice. Sounds like church doctrine to me.

Mr Larson makes some other claims that do not ring entirely true...

"What we know about evolution allows us to...
...combat pathogens by discovering ways to disable or eliminate them.
...understand ecological relationships and preserve habitats.
...explore genetic relationships and push the frontiers of biotechnology."

It's not evolution that allows these things. Science makes progress by using scientific methods, regardless of the prejudicial views, one way or the other, of the scientist. The history of science is the pulling of scales away from eyes. It starts when a lone scientist has an insight and pursues it. By definition, science is the modification and even overthrowing of previous scientific conjecture.

Science often goes against common sense. Quantum theory, which is strongly established science, questions everybody's view of reality But sometimes common sense is right. Many people are qualified to perceive that something is designed (and anyone refuting them would appear idiotic.) Is it a stretch to imagine that someone with more education in a field would be able to spot design in that field?

Update: Very well said.

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