ID explains nothing and has advanced nothing on scientific or medical fronts; evolutionary theory explains a great deal and has led to tremendous scientific advances and saved the lives of millions of patients. ID theory is not a scientific movement but a front for a religio-political movement whose primary goal is the replacement of science as currently practiced with a research program based on Judeo-Christian values. Proponents of this movement know that they cannot achieve this revolution from within the scientific community. Instead, their aim is to manipulate public opinion and exploit the political process, with potentially devastating consequences for how science is practiced, taught, and funded in this country. ID proponents keep their ideas alive by seizing any unexplained fact as evidence that evolution is about to crumble. This is not science. Scientists cannot yet predict when and where earthquakes will happen. The logic of ID would call this proof of divine tectonics. ID explains nothing in nature. Compared to the long and successful record of evolutionary theory, ID is a fruitless quest. ID has led to no substantial discoveries, no body of knowledge, no understanding of nature. It presents no future for students who learn it, no prospect of training, no chance of understanding the mysteries that still remain. ID proponents hope to cheat into schools what they cannot win fairly in science. They hope to persuade fair-minded people that their children should hear "both sides." The truth is, only one side is science. The other is the vain hope that God left the lid off the cookie jar, just enough to prove He was there. Tomorrow's engineers, architects, doctors, and scientists deserve better; ID should stay out of school. I am not a scientist; I readily admit that the foregoing thoughts, and some of their wording, were borrowed from evolutionary scientists themselves. And why not? We have been dependent on evolutionists for decades now, to the inestimable benefit of humankind.
I agree with the first statement, but not the second. As I -- and others far better informed than I -- have pointed out, you can't do work in astrohpysics without taking into account Einstein's coordinates. You can work all your life in biology without paying the slightest bit of attention to neo-Darwinian theory -- which, like ID, raises the question of the origin of life without adequately answering it in the proper scientific manner, i.e., with hard evidence. Coulda, woulda, shoulda is not science. I cited the link because it makes the useful point that anthropologists -- who are scientists -- have no problem inferring design when they come upon artifacts. So to infer design when something looks like it couldn't have just happened is not an entirely irrational procedure. Science has mostly to do with the mechanics of things. Minus a complete account of the mechanics of life, any theory about its origins must remain speculative. Richard Dawkins, who long ago gave up doing any work in his field of expertise -- arachnids -- preaches about evolution precisely because he sees the theory as proof against the existence of a creator. Is not that a religious position? Just for the record: I lean toward the Teilhardian view that intelligence is inherent in matter and that life is an ongoing elaboration of that intelligence.
This is utter twaddle. ID proponents get all in a sweat trying to "prove" -- as if they could prove ANYTHING -- that evolution is a religion. It is not. You can be an evolutionist and also an agnostic, an atheist, a Republican, or an adherent of any religion -- or none of the above. Many evolutionary scientists are "people of faith," to use the current term, which is itself a euphemism that pretends to be inclusive but actually means evangelical Christians. It doesn't matter what your religious standpoint or lack thereof. But what you CAN do is, you can take evolutionary theory and explain changes in our physical world and, what is more, hypothesize, often -- as scientific history has proved -- with a great deal of accuracy, about future changes. You cannot do that with the piffle known as ID. It is entirely static. Once you have mooned about saying, "Oh, this complexity or that one proves there must be a creator," you have said it all, period, end of story. It gets us nowhere. It is not a model for scientific inquiry, but a yearning for God. A noble yearning, but it is not science. It is --what's the word? -- oh yes: theology. And, as Mencken so trenchantly put it, theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in the terms of the not worth knowing. Not a bad description of ID, actually.
Well, Melville, you're not going to get me to defend ID theory, because as I've said repeatedly it's an obvious category error. But the practical application of neo-Darwinian theory (which is what we are talking about precisely) has not been demonstrated. In fact, Stephen Jay Gould's theory of punctuated equlibrium gives us "evolution" -- properly defined as a gradual developmental unfolding by slow increments -- that is not evolution at all. No reasonable person denies that life has developed, that simple organisms have been followed by more complex ones. But no one really knows for sure what the process of that development has been. I grew up going to Catholic schools where evolution was taught and I agree that it does not necessarily involve any challenge to faith. (By the way, the introduction to Teilhard de Chardin's "The Phenomenon of Man" is by Julian Huxley, who was key to the development of neo-Darwinian theory.) My point in all of this is that there are serious, legitmate scientific objections that have been raised about neo-Drawinian theory. Again, I recommend looking at Gert Korthof's Web site: http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/.Science involves looking for the facts, not defending theory. I certainly don't want anybody teaching Genesis in a biology class, but I'm not sure if "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design" belongs there either.
Neither Dawkins nor Gould are entirely typical of biologists or current biological thought. Lots of perfectly respectable biologists have problems with their work and "neo-Darwinism" in general. However, that doesn't mean they reject evolution. Criticizing ID ISN'T "defending a theory." It's defending science against quackery with a political agenda.
Ah, but I haven't been defending -- or advocating -- ID theory (though I once interviewed Michael Behe, author of "Darwin's Black Box," and found him to be much more reasonable and open-minded than the caricature his critics make him out to be). I am simply suggesting that neo-Darwinisn ought not to accepted uncritically -- or, shall we say, on faith. At the same time I see no reason why ID theory should be banned from discussion in schools. I believe in the free market of ideas. I don't like any ideas being declared off limits -- because I think reasonable, intelligent people are fully capable of discerning error.
And while we're at it, we can make sure the flat-earthers get their due portion of the geography class (without making them feel disrespected, of course; Lord knows the flat-earthers have for too long been reviled by the secular so-called intellectuals in America), and in economics we can devote hour upon hour to the sun-spot theory of business cycles, and in chemistry the alchemists -- with or without pointed wizard's hats upon their heads -- can mix their magic potions till the cows come home. Yes, let's jam all the nutball ideas into the marketplace known as the classroom -- and, don't forget, boys and girls: One idea's as good as the other. So if little Jason believes that Jesus rode a dinosaur, who's to say he's wrong?
No, no, no, Melville. One idea is not as good as another. Some ideas -- maybe most -- are false. But falsity must be demonstrated and that can only be done by allowing the ideas to be examined openly and fairly. I guess maybe it's because the argument from design can be traced back to at least Plato that I find it strange for it to elicit such hostility as it does. Plato and Aristotle were pretty sharp cookies. Come to think of it, Alfred Wallace, who actually formulated the idea of evolution by natural selection, wrote regarding adaptation that it displayed "very much the appearance of design by an intelligent designer on which the well being and very existence of the organism depends." Since we both agree that so-called intelligent design theory does not meet adequate scientific criteria, the question regarding our differences comes down to this: Are there or are there not valid scientific objections to the neo-Darwinian model of evolution? Please note I am not suggesting that the idea of evolution itself is false. I am suggesting that the poster child model for evolution may have some serious zits that ought to be looked at.