Thursday, June 06, 2002
I guess that there is some hubbub going on in the blogosphere over Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design. Why? Because Instapundit says so.
Instapundit points to this piece by Iain Murray who says that ID is nothing more than a backdoor strategy to get creationism into the classroom, and that it has no scientific validity.
ID is not, however, true science. According to the eminent modern philosopher Karl Popper, the defining characteristic of science is that its assertions are falsifiable. In other words, if we have no means to prove a theory wrong -- by experiment, observation, and the like -- then it is not scientific. And theories that cannot be falsified simply have no place in science books or classrooms.
Let me start out with some disclosures:
1.) I'm a Christian who believes that the Bible is the word of God and is without error.
2.) My degree is in Journalism, though I took numerous math and science classes in college and had a subscription to Scientific American starting in 7th grade.
3.) The Bible isn't a science book. It doesn't tell us how things were created -- it just tells us who created them.
With that in mind, according to Popper's defining characteristic of science, I don't think Darwinism qualifies for science books or classrooms either.
Tell me, how would we be able to falsify Darwinism? Let's look at two options we're given: experiment and observation.
Experimentation is very tricky. We would run into the danger in any experiment we might conduct of affecting the outcome by use of our intelligence. Sticking to strict Darwinism, the change must come without the aid of any outside intelligence. We can change the conditions in the experiment, but cannot encourage any specific mutation or natural selection to occur. I suppose that scientists could demonstrate evolution by changing one species into another (it wouldn't disprove ID, however), but I've heard no news of any such successful experiment.
Back in the late '80s and early '90s when I was reading a lot about Darwinism, I don't reading anything about any experiments that had been conducted to prove Darwinism. If some have been conducted, I'm really curious to the methods used.
The second scientific tool we can use is observation. This is the primary one that has been use over the decades by Darwinists. In the more than 100 years since Darwin's "The Origin of Species" was published, proponents have pointed to the fossil record as evidence of evolution. But there are still lots of holes in the fossil record. Strict Creationists (as opposed to IDers) have claimed that there are no intermediate species -- species with characteristics of two other distinct species -- the heart of Darwinism. That claim is not true, there are intermediate species -- just not nearly as many as one would expect from a statistical standpoint.
In response to this problem, the late Stephen Jay Gould came up with the idea of "punctuated equilibrium." Simply stated, there are bursts of evolutionary activity followed by long periods of nothing. This explains the dearth (but not absence) of the intermediate species.
I'm not opposed to teaching the science of evolution in the schools. What I am opposed to is teaching the religion of Evolution. To have science teachers say there is no God and this is how everything came to be is a religion. To say there was a lifeless (Louis Pasteur proved that life can only come from life, never from non-life.)primordial goo that suddenly had single-cell organisms sprout from it to eventually become humans is a belief system. If they could stick to the parts of the theory that they have strong proof for (examples of microevolution, etc.) -- and not just speculation, there would be little support for ID.
This is all off the cuff, I haven't done any recent research on the issue, so I encourage people to comment and point me to research that I have missed.
Let me close with this: Darwinism is a religion cloaked in the mantle of "science" by its adherents. Criticism by outsiders is dismissed as religious zealotry. Alternative theories and evidence that tends to undermine Darwinism are either belittled or ignored.
A case in point comes from Murray himself: "Moreover, it is hard to call ID an emerging scientific paradigm when its leading proponent is a University of California, Berkeley law professor, Phillip E. Johnson, who is not a scientist at all."
Apparently, if you are not a trained scientist you're not allowed to dabble in science.
After all, wasn't that Einstein fella a patent clerk?