3/30/2005

Not intelligent, not science

The LA Time has a great editorial on "Intelligent Design" by Michael Schermer of Skeptic magazine. It says in part:
...Let's be clear: Intelligent-design theory is not science. The proof is in the pudding. Scientists, including scientists who are Christians, do not use IDT when they do science because it offers nothing in the way of testable hypotheses. Lee Anne Chaney, professor of biology at Whitworth College, a Christian institution, wrote in a 1995 article: "As a Christian, part of my belief system is that God is ultimately responsible. But as a biologist, I need to look at the evidence…. I don't think intelligent design is very helpful because it does not provide things that are refutable — there is no way in the world you can show it's not true. Drawing inferences about the deity does not seem to me to be the function of science because it's very subjective." Intelligent-design theory lacks, for instance, a hypothesis of the mechanics of the design, something akin to natural selection in evolution. Natural selection can and has been observed and tested, and Charles Darwin's theory has been refined...If intelligent design is not science, then what is it? One of its originators, Phillip Johnson, a law professor at UC Berkeley, wrote in a 1999 article: "The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism versus evolution to the existence of God versus the nonexistence of God. From there people are introduced to 'the truth' of the Bible and then 'the question of sin' and finally 'introduced to Jesus.'"...The term "intelligent design" is nothing more than a linguistic place-filler for something unexplained by science. It is saying, in essence, that if there is no natural explanation for X, then the explanation must be a supernatural one...In fact, invoking intelligent design as God's place-filler can only result in the naturalization of the deity. God becomes just another part of the natural world, and thereby loses the transcendent mystery and divinity that define the boundary between religion and science.

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