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ID Again

Entry 370, on 2006-07-26 at 14:13:49 (Rating 3, Religion)

I recently listened to a podcast which was a discussion between one of the foremost supporters of intelligent design, William Dembski, and a prominent skeptic. The most basic ideas of the most generic form of ID are almost reasonable. The idea that it should be possible to detect the signs of design is almost scientific. Of course, science is quite capable of doing that without there being a specific branch called intelligent design.

The real problem is the link between the raison d'etre of ID, and religion. It doesn't matter how much the supporters deny it, that is the real reason ID exists. Dembski may be an intelligent person, with a doctorate in philosophy and another degree in maths, but he is a committed Christian and has a very limited knowledge of biology. So his tests for design are biased in favour of finding it.

Another problem is that he refuses to accept that evolution is a form of design itself. It isn't intelligent design in the usual sense, but it is design. Detecting the difference between the two forms is more difficult than detecting the difference between design and random change.

A further issue is his failure to accept the evidence that doesn't support his belief system. He keeps bringing up the bacterial flagellum as evidence for something that must have been designed because it could not have existed in a simpler form, but there are plenty of researchers finding evolutionary forms. If this classic example of ID is highly questionable where does that leave the rest of their argument?

So is ID science? Well no, it isn't really. Some parts of some forms of ID might have some scientific aspects, but saying ID as a whole is science just isn't true. But even if it was science we still shouldn't teach it because it would be science which has been disproven. For example, Dembski's filter to detect intelligent design has been shown to involved faulty logic by scientists. But even if it was science and wasn't disproven we still shouldn't take it seriously because any good points it may have are irrevocably negated by the association with neo-creationist pressure groups and the attachment its proponents have with Christianity.

So ID is dead. if there really is an intelligence guiding evolution or any other process, then normal scientific enquiry will find it, but creating a new pseudo-science with the specific purpose of finding something that almost certainly doesn't exist is not the way to go about it!

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Comment 1 (234) by RC on 2006-07-30 at 18:34:30:

ID should be treated with respect because it is science. It is rejected by scientists because they just don't want to be shown to be wrong. There is plenty of real scientific research being done so scientists just have to learn to accept ID.

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Comment 2 (235) by OJB on 2006-07-31 at 13:50:11:

The vast majority of scientists don't think its science. the American Academy of Sciences don't think its science. A conservative Christian judge of the American Supreme Court doesn't think its science. It seems that the only people who think it is science are those who have had their ability to think sensibly warped by their religious beliefs.

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