Friday, November 18, 2005

Intelligent Design: Not a Theory

Though I lament the derogatory tone of this Krauthammer editorial in the Washington Post, I believe he is right on. Intelligent design, which I believe to be true and correct, is not a scientific theory but rather a conclusion, drawn by many scientists, based on certain logical inconsistencies in the natural selection account of origins and also by remarkable coincidences found in both quantum physics and astrophysics.. As such, it should be taught in the schools. The fact that the data leads some world-famous scientists like Paul Davies to suggest that a cosmic designer does exist is out there and addressed by other world-famous scientists like Stephen Hawking. This is a conversation going on at the highest level of scientific philosophical discourse. Just read A Brief History of Time or any other of Hawking's coffee table books and you will find the question of a designer god in every chapter, and sometimes on every page. He is not arguing with the Kansas Board of Education, but with the likes of Paul Davies. They are not arguing about a theory, but about a conclusion. See my comment here.

It is disingenuous to say that this conflict was initiated by ID advocates. The reason these mandates from school boards arise at all is because fear of litigation by the likes of the ACLU has squelched all discussion in the classroom of the theistic conclusions or presuppositions that real scientists like Davies or Hawking ... or Behe...consider every day. It is safe for a teacher to say that natural selection based on unguided, random mutations explains all that needs to be explained about origins. They could even teach Francis Crick's conclusion of "panspermia", (the idea that space aliens seeded Earth with DNA and whatever was needed to jump-start life on this planet.) But they get sued for discussing the conclusion, actually drawn by many prominent and working scientists, that the data itself suggests purpose and even manipulation by nonrandom, non-chance agencies, because such agencies smack of "God" and hence may not be discussed in school. It is this prior stifling of any discourse with any religious content that leads school boards to feel the need to explicitly endorse or even mandate the discussion of Intelligent Design. If public school discourse were really free and open, the discussion of the possibility of an intelligent creator, a discussion that has engaged the minds of the best scientists for centuries, would be part of every upper-level science curriculum.


  1. So you condone the teaching of religious ideas in public schools?

  2. The teaching about religious ideas, yes. It is simply a fact that modern scientists, especially physicists, are encountering data that causes them to consider the God question. This is an old and honorable question, explicitly discussed by giants of modern science. Why are we so squeamish? If Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Descartes, Maxwell, Einstein, Davies, Hawking, and Polanyi can debate this question, why can't such a debate be held in a public high school?

  3. Anonymous1:39 PM

    No problem from this happy atheist about free and open teaching of religion in schools, but in casting ID as science, aren't you confusing natural philosophy with moral philosophy?

    What evidence would be required to disprove ID?