Month: May 2011

Here We Go Again

One submission has come from a company called International Databases, LLC. It’s a one-man operation run by Stephen Sample, who says he has a degree in evolutionary biology and taught at the high school and junior college levels for 15 years.

The material he submitted consists of eight modules dealing with current issues in biology and ecology. Most are well within the mainstream scientific consensus. But there are two that deal with the origin of life. Those sections say the “null hypothesis” is that there had to be some intelligent agency behind the appearance of living things. It is up to the scientists proposing a naturalistic explanation to prove their case.

I can’t believe people still fail to understand how this works. Science isn’t where you go “we can’t explain x, so we’re going to say God did it”, it is “we can’t explain x, so let’s make ourselves understand it well enough to be able to do so by subjecting it to the scientific method”.

In science there are laws, theories, hypotheses, and unfounded nonsense that does not hold up to – or worse, resists – scrutiny. The first three are categorized in descending order of certainty based on research, observing what happens when we recreate the circumstances believed to result in some specific outcome, and the predictability of the results. Some things we can’t test for practical reasons. We can’t test a dog evolving over the course of 150,000 years to see if it sprouts wings or develops language – but we can observe a bacteria developing immunity to a drug that used to eradicate it and suppose that the evolutionary process does manifest itself in other means. We can’t add a second moon to Earth’s orbit to test for changes in the tides, but there is little reason to doubt gravitational theory because nobody has ever tripped over a rock at sea level and fallen upwards into the sky.

As for the unfounded nonsense – that is where intelligent design comes in. You cannot scrutinize it. You cannot explicitly observe or otherwise quantify the existence of “God” in nature. There is no molecule to isolate, and you cannot compare environments where God exists and environments where God does not exist in the way that you can compare environments without oxygen and oxygen-rich environments. And since God cannot be explicitly observed, you cannot perform experiments on it. How does God react to light? To water? What happens if you put God in a jar with sodium and shake it up? You cannot answer any of those questions in the affirmative or the negative. Why? Because God is a construct of faith – in this context, faith based on a sufficient enough amount of arrogance to suggest that you cannot watch the sun come up and claim with a straight face that God didn’t make that happen.

The scientific method seeks to answer all questions and sufficiently explain the questions it can’t thoroughly answer. Intelligent design seeks to put up a sign that says “for more information, please refer to the Bible”. That is not science, and people should not pretend that it is.

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