Saturday, October 29, 2005

Intelligent Design Revisited

Columbia Journalism Review features a fine study of the way in which the public media handles the notion of Intelligent Design. The authors, Chris Mooney and Matthew C. Nisbet, conclude that the Press and media have elevated the so-called theory of ID to the level of that other theory, Evolution. They point out that although the scientific community rejects ID because it has no sound scientific basis, it is treated by reporters as if it were just an alternate scientific explanation that is part of the consensus.It doesn't help that the President (who some people still respect) states that ID should be taught in Science classes for fairness' sake.

The speculations of Michael Behe in his book, Darwin's Black Box are spread by the major ID agents at The Discovery Institute. Behe claims that a biological observation of the eye shows that there is "irreducible complexity" that would preclude the random development of Evolution. According to him, this level of complexity requires guidance or design. Of course, the mutations of natural selection are not random at all, they are made inevitable by the success of a thriving organism. In any case, Behe's analogy is the mousetrap, which he says will not work at all missing any of its components. Isn't it curious that he uses the mousetrap ? There are many kinds, with different constructions. The ones that don't work so well are extinct - they don't sell.And isn't it obvious that Behe is ignoring more primitive forms of the Eye, like that of a housefly ?

One significant problem with Behe's observation is that he is arguing from ignorance. He uses a post hoc argument to draw a conclusion about the cause of certain complexity in organisms. But he is saying something like this:

"I find it hard to imagine a way in which a thousand-ton piece of metal could fly through the air. Therefore, airplanes will never work."

ID is religious speculation that cannot be proven in a scientific, experimental observable manner. It deals with what Kant (and Schopenhauer)called noumena, whereas Science (like Evolution) deals with phenomena. Please explain, Dr. Behe, how an ID scientist would go about measuring or observing how, where, or when God intervened with Intelligent Design.Don't our children deserve this small measure of rigor in their Science classes ?


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