Intelligent Design: If A Tree Falls In The Forest, It Does Not Land In A Science Classroom

Evolution

There has been a lot of controversy regarding the proposed integration of ‘Intelligent Design’ into current biology curriculum. Intelligent Design is the hypothesis that all life on Earth was created and designed by an intelligent designer. Subsumed by this hypothesis, although not clearly stated, is that most proponents of Intelligent Design believe the intelligent designer to be the most intelligent designer, namely God. It is proposed that in the name of impartiality, Intelligent Design be taught along side Darwinian Evolution in biology classes.

We have two choices in trying to argue against this hypothesis. First we can show that the hypothesis is false by counter claims of design flaws. Next we can show that the hypothesis is an inherently un-testable hypothesis which thus belongs in the realms of philosophy or theology, but not in science. I will argue that while the first approach of finding design flaws is enlightening, it misses the issue. The issue is that for something to be taught in a science classroom it must somehow relate to a testable hypothesis: testable by experiment.

The temptation for someone who is versed in biology when approached with Intelligent Design is to quickly point out all of the design flaws that they know of. There are many examples to pick from but the most commonly offered are design flaws in (human) joints, most notably the elbow and the knee. One of my personal favourites is the prevalence of people with eye glasses which suggests there is a possible design flaw in the maintenance of a spherical shape of the eye. Biologists quickly offer up their favourite design flaw hoping to see a recantation of Intelligent Design. To their dismay, they get answers like: “We do not know the design of the intelligent designer. Perhaps non-spherical eyes are beneficial in some other unknown way, or the knee was some sort of design trade off against some other more beneficial feature. However, the sum of all the trade offs is the ultimate perfect design, designed by the most intelligent designer, God.” The frustrated scientist then returns to his beaker and the Intelligent Design guru returns to his pulpit or to the White House which are increasingly indistinguishable.

The reason that the hypothetical scientist and the theologian talk at cross purposes is that they both have failed to realize the bar of entry to science: a testable hypothesis. In life there are testable hypotheses and un-testable hypotheses. Some un-testable hypotheses are:
1) In absence of an observer, human or otherwise (i.e. a tape recorder): If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a noise? Yes or no?
2) Suppose all of history started 5 minutes ago with all of our collective memories implanted at that moment.
3) All good in the world is a work of a benevolent God, and all problems people experience are the result of God working in mysterious (good) ways.
More topically:
4) The wonder and beauty of the living world is the result of an intelligent design and all counter examples such as fossils, design flaws, evolutionary proofs, are just the result of our inability to grasp the grand design.

The common thread that runs across all four statements is the fallacy of an unprovable statement. It is this same thread that many stitch together to form a rip stop nylon fabric of belief. Statements 1 through 3 would likely be widely accepted as topics for a class on philosophy or theology. Statement 4 is no different. It is an inherently unprovable statement which has no place in science.

Many have said that science is a religion unto itself. I have often said that the only reason our language has two words for science and religion is that we sorely misunderstand both. They are both searches for the truth. Science is an ideology based on the Scientific Method and the instrument of that method is the experiment. Science allows for discussions of all things provable, even if they are not yet proved. Take for example the Superstring revolution in physics. It is currently unproven; however, scientists are building the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland which should have sufficient power to create ‘supersymmetric’ particles which would confirm the theory. What experiment does Intelligent Design proposes to validate its hypothesis? How does one experimentally prove something was designed? Even if such an experiment could be constructed, how then does that disprove that the designed item was not self designed and thus (perhaps), not intelligently designed?

Confused? The notion of a self designing design is especially hard to understand on a planet where we (most) see a clear distinction between human made and natural objects. [However, it is a distinction I do not see because humans as part of nature.] Just the same, the notion of a self designing design is crucial to evolution, and while complex, its power is compelling. If you are confused and interested pick up a good book on the subject or take a course. However, if you are presented with Intelligent Design, ask for a proposed or executed experiment published in a reputable scientific journal. Darwin had to go through the same efforts of the before his works were accepted. There is an established process in place and it has been put in place by an intelligent design (irony intended). The designer is certainly not God and its intelligence is often arguable, just the same it has served us well so far.

In summation, scientists are, by definition, very inquisitive people who would love to have conversations about many different theories and possibilities. The price of admission to such a conversation is to bring with an experimentally testable hypothesis. All other discussions belong in a different classroom.

22 thoughts on “Intelligent Design: If A Tree Falls In The Forest, It Does Not Land In A Science Classroom

  1. ‘We are simply a product of time and chance’ is an untestable statement as well. To have legislation to prevent someone from saying ‘this might have been designed’ seems to be heavy-handed. Some see a design, even if they are not part of the ‘ID movement’.

  2. “‘We are simply a product of time and chance’ is an untestable statement.”

    Evolution does not make this statement. Instead it makes the statement that (loosely) we are the product of natural selection exterted over time. That statement is testable. The fossil record is a good starting point.

  3. The fossil record please…

    even Henry Gee, chief science writer for Nature… [wrote:] “To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story — amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.”

  4. Less the fossil record and more the record of molecular biology. In addtion, the selective pressure of antibiotics has caused drug-resistant bacteria to evolve almost before our eyes.

    And the bottom line is, ID is a fairly thinly disguised way to sneak religon in to science class. It’s not the design of Bramah people are talking about, it’s not any other creation myths besides Genesis.

  5. If machines inherit this planet, they could look at the fossil records of machines and make the same arguments about evolution that scientists do. They would point out that if they were engineered, why aren’t they perfect? Any logical machine would never believe they were engineered over a period of time (apparently evolving) by life forms that were beyond their understanding.
    Now what if those machines had been engineered by beings that evolved from a type of matter that comprises the vast majority of the universe (dark matter), so that the continued presence of these beings wasn’t even apparent? Would these machines even have the science to understand the possibility of their existence, much less their intentions for creating machines?
    I don’t think it is wise to regulate what theories are taught in our schools since a theory by definition, has yet to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If it was, it would be called a law or theorem. Intelligent design is not a flawed theory, neither is evolution. Life was engineered to adapt and evolve. The arguments that the evolutionary process was aided by an intelligent hand are quite compelling, denying them outright would be as much an act of faith as, well, faith is.

  6. You argue well but for the evolution side of the debate.

    You claim that perhaps God/Creator/Designer is made of some form of matter which is undetectable. If it’s truly undetectable, you’ve just left the world of science. Science deals with experiments, hypotheses that can be tested. Hypotheses that can’t be tested, however interesting, fall to other realms of thought.

    You claim that it isn’t wise to regulate theories taught in classrooms. You go on to make the mistake that theories graduate to laws and go on to be axioms. Not at all true. There are only theories in science. Poor science writers occasionally use the word ‘law’.

    Would you agree that an examination of the prevalence of musical 7th chords in jazz does not belong in gym class? If you agree to that, then you must agree that discussions of untestable hypotheses belongs in a philosophy class, not in science.

    Hence a tree falling in a forest is an example of an untestable hypothesis since trying to make the determination requires an observer and the conditions of the situation state clearly “when no one is there to hear.” Hence such topics can be discussed ad nauseum in philosophy class. While there, feel free to have long conversations about burning bushes, flaming mountains, people ascending from crosses and whatever provides you illumination. If you require illumination in science class, bring a Bunsen burner.

  7. Dark matter is not undetectable, it exerts gravity and represents the majority of matter in the universe. What it is and why it is so difficult to detect might remain a scientific mystery for eons. Where should theories of what it is and what might or might not have evolved in it be debated if not in our classrooms and our labs? The Catholics for hundreds of years dictated what science was or was not and gave us the gift of the Dark Ages with all its’ wonders and joys. Are you suggesting that scientists do the same with their theories and enshrine them in law when we still understand so little?
    Theories are not laws and are subject to revision. Look how medical theory has changed over the last two centuries, leeches though still used, aren’t quite as popular. Aren’t you an advocate of changing current medical theory on how cancer should be treated? What if the current methods were the only methods that you could endorse because somebody who knew what science was two hundred years ago put it into law?
    I think before you chop down trees in the forest and advocate restricting free speech and the unrestricted advance of science, perhaps you should check were that tree falls, rather than worrying about the sound it makes.

  8. I should have also addressed the issue of abiogenesis. Here again we find many theories (models, hypotheses, etc), none of which can be proven. Where shall we address these theories? Given that Louis Pasteur disproved the theory of spontaneous generation (science at the time– but not legislated) over 100 years ago and that breakthrough has resulted in the rich empirical science of canning and sterilization (nobody worries about alien life evolving in their canned peaches–do they?). How shall we address this very necessary piece of the evolutionary puzzle when our science has proven it doesn’t happen (at least not often enough for us to ever see)? Shall we relegate this to church or philosophy class too? Many scientists have a lot of faith in the theory of abiogenesis (spontaneous generation), but that is all it is: faith. They have no proof. Their experiments fail to explain their observations. Yet they teach their unproven (and some would say, disproved) theories freely.

    I personally believe that abiogenesis in matter of the type that we understand it is impossible due to the levels of kinetic entropy expressed in that matter. Matter that segregates more according to its’ quantum nature rather than its’ kinetic nature will segregate quite naturally into the homochiralic pools of amino and nucleic acids that life needs to be constructed from. What philosophy class would understand a discussion of quantum and temporal mechanics? So where shall this theory be discussed?

    Science, like life, evolves. Theories are refined by those with a new understanding. Whatever the truth is, it will endure any test, we need only devise it.

    Designing those tests is proving to be problematic for scientists that investigate ghosts, dark matter and the paranormal (ESP, precognition, clairvoyance, etc.). The answers are out there, scientists need the freedom to keep looking and to encourage others to at least consider the merits of their ideas, so that perhaps, one day, an especially gifted student will design an experiment that will reveal the truth at last.

    One last thing, a tree that falls in the forest produces oscillations of pressure in the air that are not interpreted as sound unless an animal “hears” them.

  9. I thought I would include a few more theories in science so that you may chose which is credible and which are not (since I believe you are mistaken that “theories” in science must be supported by empirical evidence). These include, string theory, superstring theory, bosonic string theory, M-theory, string field theory, chaos theory, the theory of everything, etc., to name a few. It seems scientists don’t agree with science writers on how the term should be used, or misused, since these theories are still quite speculative in nature.

    The theory of evolution is still a work in progress. I for one, would love for scientists to piece together the details and determine the truth of our existence, but to do so, they must keep their hearts and minds open to all the possibilities, not just those they are personally comfortable with.

  10. You’ve brought up superstring theory. I’m not sure if you realize you were providing me with the rope to hang the creationists on. You see the problem is that scientists at first dismissed superstring theory as fringe or not science precisely because it did not make any testable predictions.
    http://askville.amazon.com/String-Theory-science/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=3025156

    The proponents of superstring theory however, worked and developed an experiment which can verify the veracity of superstring theory. The hunt for the Higgs Boson (so called God Particle) is the test which will validate superstring theory. This experiment is underway in the largest scale and costliest experiment of all times at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva Switzerland.

    You mention that scientists must have an open mind. Fine:
    Name the experiment that can validate the theory of Creationism? If you can name such and experiment, I’ll admit that it should be considered science.
    Further, if you can demonstrate that the LHC experiment searching for the Higgs Boson can NOT validate superstring theory, I’ll yield you the point that superstring theory is not science.

  11. I didn’t mean to criticize superstring theory, it is a theory whose arguments I find compelling and I too believe it will prevail as the winner in a highly contested field. My point was however, that the word theory is used to identify dozens if not hundreds of working (and sometimes not-working) hypothesis . Once a theory is proven repeatedly and understood completely, it is then considered science, a fact, an axiom, a theorem, etc..

    There are many areas of science that are completely theoretic and will never be tested empirically. There are models of what happened during every fragment of a second after the big bang, how shall we test those empirically? Are we to discard this theory from the teachings of science because we can’t ever prove it by reproducing our own big bang than measuring it (and then wondering if our measurements effected the outcome).

    Some science might forever remain theory. Thus it should be called and recognized to be theoretic science.

    The question of how, where and when did life begin might always be a mystery to science. Did a God-like being create everything?; did life evolve billions of years earlier than we believe and was carried to this planet by some means? did life evolve here?; did life evolve first in matter as we understand it or in dark matter? was evolution on this world guided by an intelligent hand?: these are all valid theories. Some are certainly more compelling than others, but will an experiment be designed to prove any of them? I don’t think so. Should we forbid these competing theories to be explored by the minds of our students, simply because we can’t yet design an experiment to test them? You decide.

    But even though you or I cannot think of an experiment to test these theories, someday some genius might. But how can even a genius design an experiment to test a theory that he/she was unaware of because it was a forbidden concept that was never even addressed in passing at school so they could do their own investigating, their own thinking, their own imagining and dreaming?

    Intelligent design theory is a theoretic science that addresses problems with the theory of evolution. In my mind, neither of these is science and if an oppressive society is going to throw one of them out of the classroom, then throw them both out.

  12. >>There are models of what happened during every fragment of a second after the big bang, how shall we test those empirically?
    The Large Hadron Collider experiment IS testing this at the very moment. If it confirms string theory by discovering the Higgs-Boson, string theory in turn has an explanation for the seconds following the Big Bang. What it won’t explain, what no one could/can ever explain is the Planck Time unit of time after the big bang. The Planck time is the smallest measure of time possible. Any smaller than this and you lose the ability to detect change, hence to detect the passage of time. It won’t tell us what happened when the universe was smaller than the Planck Length — the smallest measureable distance.

    You’ll like this. Superstring Theory has uncertainty built in to it. There are limits to perception and observation (Planck Time and Length). Now let me guess: the creationists will jump all over this and declare that these units mark the boundary of God and the secular universe. Great, but by the very definition of science, what happened in the first Plank Time interval after the big bang is not observable or testable… not science. If the creationists want to offer a class about this… they’ll have to do it in philosophy.

    Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 1:54 pm

    I didn’t mean to criticize superstring theory, it is a theory whose arguments I find compelling and I too believe it will prevail as the winner in a highly contested field. My point was however, that the word theory is used to identify dozens if not hundreds of working (and sometimes not-working) hypothesis . Once a theory is proven repeatedly and understood completely, it is then considered science, a fact, an axiom, a theorem, etc..

    There are many areas of science that are completely theoretic and will never be tested empirically. There are models of what happened during every fragment of a second after the big bang, how shall we test those empirically? Are we to discard this theory from the teachings of science because we can’t ever prove it by reproducing our own big bang than measuring it (and then wondering if our measurements effected the outcome).

    Some science might forever remain theory. Thus it should be called and recognized to be theoretic science.

    The question of how, where and when did life begin might always be a mystery to science. Did a God-like being create everything?; did life evolve billions of years earlier than we believe and was carried to this planet by some means? did life evolve here?; did life evolve first in matter as we understand it or in dark matter? was evolution on this world guided by an intelligent hand?: these are all valid theories. Some are certainly more compelling than others, but will an experiment be designed to prove any of them? I don’t think so. Should we forbid these competing theories to be explored by the minds of our students, simply because we can’t yet design an experiment to test them? You decide.

    >>But even though you or I cannot think of an experiment to test these theories, someday some genius might. But how can even a genius design an experiment to test a theory that he/she was unaware of because it was a forbidden concept that was >>never even addressed in passing at school so they could do their own investigating, their own thinking, their own imagining and dreaming?

    Science admits and addresses the wholes in superstring theory. Specifically it acknowledges that things are beyond the scope of science for times smaller than the Plank Time and distances smaller then the Planck Length. Students are free to think about it all they want. If they can come up with an experiment to establish what happened in these infinitesimally small intervals, science would be thrilled.

    >>Once a theory is proven repeatedly and understood completely, it is then considered science, a fact, an axiom, a theorem, etc..
    No, a theory is always a theory. It can always be expanded, revised or demolished. Evolution can be demolished if something better comes along which explains the observable phenomenon. Be careful though, creationism is fraught with difficulties in this regard.

  13. Many scientists subscribe to the theory of intelligent design, not because it conflicts with the theory of evolution, but because it complements it. It fills in the gaps nicely (and there are huge gaps).

    I have already touched on the concept of abiogenesis being ludicrous given what we know of chemistry, odds and simple physics. This is the first gap in evolutionary theory.

    The second gap is the life/death gap. Of course people don’t talk about this one much, but it is quite simple. If something is dead, it stays dead. So if I had a simple bacteria that, for the sake of argument, self-assembled by a process of chance from lifeless chemicals, that bacteria with all of its’ structures in place and intact would still be lifeless until its’ figurative battery was charged and its’ fuel tank filled.

    We’ve certainly seen lots of dead bacteria and animals, but have we ever seen what is in effect a cellular AAA? No we have not. Dead things are dead and they stay dead. Atheistic scientists certainly possess quite a deal of faith when they chose to believe this happened at one time in history, and ironically deny the faith of theists when they say that Christ was raised from the dead too.

    Now I will address some the gaps in evolutionary theory itself. There are a number of structures with the cell that constructed from components that have no function unto themselves. Why would they evolve separately when they only make sense as an assembly? Molecular motors, rotors, dimeric and tetrameric proteins, etc, are examples of these.

    In the evolutionary record itself, there are huge gaps where life seems to take a leap from one form to another without any intermediates.

    Intelligent design logically addresses all of these observations. It does not make any stipulations about the nature of the engineer(s). Whether it was an all-powerful God (as theists believe) or a race of beings whose technology is so advanced (and strange) that it appears to be magic (my belief) is not a part of that theory.

    The vast majority of scientists reject this theory because of politics and faith, certainly not because of good science.

    Consider this, if the Mars rover found words etched into a rock that said “welcome to mars, zebo was here first” would we believe this was eroded into the rock by the action of wind and sand? What if we found a tool as simple as a kitchen knife? Would we believed it evolved? If we did find those things on Mars and a scientist suggested they “evolved’ there, he/she would be laughed out of the room.

    I have done the calculations to determine the odds of randomly assembling an mRNA strand coding for a functional 300 AA protein, using a racemic mix of RNA. That number quite easily exceeds the number of seconds that the universe has existed, multiplied by the number of bosons in the known universe. Given that life appeared on earth about 200 million years after it was cool enough to even possibly support it, it seems that we won a cosmic lottery with the very first ticket we bought. I don’t believe it for a New York minute, and any scientist that does is a good candidate to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

    When abiogenesis occurred it happened in a much larger pool of matter, over a much longer period of time, someplace where entropy was not tearing every macromolecule to shreds before the first chapter of the book of life could be written. The beings that evolved on that world are the ones that seeded this one and tried to guide evolution (it’s like herding kittens) to create the intelligence that they desired. Call this race the first race, the ancients, the Elohim, God, god(s), ET’s, angels, archangels, whatever you want, the archaeological evidence of their existence is in the tools that they made.

  14. Before I address the rest of your well thought out arguments, the following paragraph is of particular concern:

    >>I have done the calculations to determine the odds of randomly assembling an mRNA strand coding for a functional 300 AA protein, using a racemic mix of RNA. That number quite easily exceeds the number of seconds that the universe has existed,
    >>multiplied by the number of bosons in the known universe. Given that life appeared on earth about 200 million years after it was cool enough to even possibly support it, it seems that we won a cosmic lottery with the very first ticket we bought. I don’t
    >>believe it for a New York minute, and any scientist that does is a good candidate to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

    I hear this line of reasoning time and again. It derives from a fundamental misunderstanding of how evolution works, specifically natural selection. Natural selection employs a technique called cumulative selection.

    Did you ever see the movie “War Games”?

    So at the end of the movie the computer sends random missile launch codes to the silos. The funny thing is it didn’t do it correctly. Either the code is 100% right or not. The movie shows the computer getting one part of the 10 digit code right at a time. The characters keep saying, “now they the computer has 3 numbers, now 4, now 5…”. This is actually cumulative selection which is now evolution works, not how security codes work. Thank God too because cumulative selection drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to crack a code.

    If this is all a bit fuzzy, fret not. I have a simulation of this which makes things clearer:
    http://www.rankyouragent.com/evolution/weasel.htm

    Here I attempt to ‘evolve’ texts using random chance (all or nothing, either it’s right or it’s wrong) or cumulative selection (a letter can be in the right position while the rest of the text is wrong. Correct letters are preserved across tries).

    Try it out and you’ll see a huge difference. So let’s start with this, and see how the conversation goes.

  15. These simulations models evolution, not abiogenesis. With evolution (i.e. living things) it can be argued that there is some sort of cumulative selection possible because there might be a measure of “correctness” that life can emulate.
    A computer can cumulatively crack a code, because once it knows it has a right solution for a digit, letter or symbol, it can then move on to the next one, solving the puzzle in a step by step fashion.
    Lifeless, unintelligent matter doesn’t have this luxury. Any “solutions” would have to be produced as a whole, without a constant process of error checking every piece of that solution. Thus, I believe the cosmic lottery metaphor of life evolving on earth in just 200 million years is accurate.
    As I stipulated before, winning this lottery would take much more matter and time than 200 million years on Earth can account for.
    Now I have a question for you.
    Let say a scientist, such as myself stepped forward one day with a piece of dark matter technology whose effects could be measured but the device itself was undetectable. Say that this device was intelligently designed so that the light that it emitted was specifically absorbed by bacteria, killing them and curing diseases such as MRSA, leprosy and flesh-eating bacteria.
    What would you make of such a discovery? Would you then believe that life and intelligence as well as technology can be made of dark matter, or would you believe something else? And if you did believe that life can exist in dark matter, would you then believe in ghosts, God, angels and archangels?
    Think about it.

  16. No, computers cannot cumulatively crack a code. That’s just the point. The code is either right or wrong. So going to your problems with life evolving de novo from inanimate matter, the computer trying to crack a code (all or nothing) should be the example you’re using.

    Do you agree that if you ‘stew’ basic chemicals in a beaker that mimics primordial conditions that you get amino acids?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller%E2%80%93Urey_experiment
    This is repeatable science. No you don’t get life, I’m asking: do you agree that we get the building blocks of life?

    Ok, now you ask me about a scientist that returns with dark matter that does a host of wonderous things. Would this make me believe in God. No, the same way that transistors didn’t nor did my large hard drive which uses quantum effects to increase its storage.

    You do realize that being an aetheist doesn’t preclude one from a sense of magic or mystery in the universe? You and I exist in 4 dimensions and yet string theory predicts some 11 dimensions. All manner of wonderous things can occur in the remaining 7 dimensions we barely know or understand.

    I’m sure you’re aware that large stars act as gravitational lenses for light and photons. That being the case a very distant photon from the beginning of the universe has a choice of which side of the given sun it passes before it reaches your eyes. Superstring theory allows for that photon to take both paths to your eyes. The moment you observe that light, a decision is made as to side of the sun the photon took to reach your eyes.

    So we are some 15 billion years after the big bang (shush you creationist you, you know it’s true! :) ) and my observing light causes a decision to be made which determines the path that photon took to reach my eye travelling back to year 0 (not 0 AD!, the real 0). That’s pretty magical in my mind. I’ve influenced the starting conditions of the universe.

    There are some rumours in science emerging that the universe exists only when a sentient being in it observes it.
    http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=383959
    I’m not sure I’m convinced of this, but I find the reasoning intriguing. My point is that there is still room for magic and wonder which doesn’t necessitate a God. In fact, the lack of a God, to my way of thinking, makes it MORE wondrous.

    And now for me to return your serve of philisophical questions… why does the human body produce 3 of 4 steps required to synthesize Vitamin C? We, unlike most other animals, lack the fourth step, and waste energy and resources performing the first 3.

  17. It is my understanding that the first three steps of vitamin C synthesis produce D-glucuronolactone. D-glucuronolactone is an important component of connective tissues. If this is true, then the first three steps of vitamin C biosynthesis are not wasted as you have suggested. Thus a creature that already had a source of vitamin C in its’ diet is actually wasting energy and resources by producing the unnecessary enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase. Not producing its’ own vitamin C also allows the organism to preserve FAD (a redox cofactor) for other uses.
    As for brewing chemicals in a beaker to produce organic chemicals that could be considered the building blocks of life, yes I believe that is possible, but there is one problem with that batch of chemicals you brew: it’ a racemic mix of enantiomeric crap. For abiogenesis to even have a chance of occuring it would have to be in a homochiralic pool of these “life blocks”.

    Re: “There are some rumours in science emerging that the universe exists only when a sentient being in it observes it.”

    I’m not much on the heavy philosophy stuff. I am rather pragmatic about such things. I’m a bit more of a “I suffer therefore I exist” type of a guy rather than “I think therefore I am”. Anyone who doubts their existence should simply drop something heavy on their toe. Not only will they be once again convinced of their existence, but should realize that thinking (or observing) has little to do with it.

  18. It is my understanding that the first three steps of vitamin C synthesis produce D-glucuronolactone. D-glucuronolactone is an important component of connective tissues. If this is true, then the first three steps of vitamin C biosynthesis are not wasted as you have suggested. Thus a creature that already had a source of vitamin C in its’ diet is actually wasting energy and resources by producing the unnecessary enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase. Not producing its’ own vitamin C also allows the organism to preserve FAD (a redox cofactor) for other uses.

    I relied on the author I read several years ago regarding the first 3 steps being wasted. I’ll cede to you that they aren’t wasted (pending further research) because it’s besides the point. A frame mutation in the 4th step results in the inability to produce Vitamin C. The next line in your argument is troubling… the Vitamin C deficiency is actually an advantage? Really? All the animals that don’t suffer scurvy are disadvantaged relative to us?

    So here’s why Creationism isn’t science. It’s subjective. I tell you about Vitamin C deficiencies and you tell me “God works in mysterious ways”. I tell you about the wonder of the human eye and you’ll tell me “God’s designs are glorious”. The approach of “God works in mysterious ways” for anything seemingly contrary to the tenets of intelligent design and “God is glorious” to the good stuff doesn’t belong in science, moreover, doesn’t belong in school altogether.

    This is the construction of a religious fabric out of rip stop nylon. It’s a tautology which is as interesting as: “This statement is true”.

    Let me put the question to you: Are there mistakes in nature or is nature perfect?

  19. Only once I will comment on this argument. Only once I add to the most ridiculous discussion. Both sides have no eyewitnes. One is only a little bit better because they have fossils, the other have highly unreliable source, much worst than nothing, with political agendum.
    Excuse me for being stupid.

  20. This is the first I’ve heard of Intelligent Design. Thank you for sharing this article. I’ve gained a lot of information about this topic which I find very useful.

  21. I find this whole discussion a little strange, to be honest. In it you make good arguments about what Science is, ending with a provocative statement that, “The price of admission to such a conversation is to bring with [you] an experimentally testable hypothesis. All other discussions belong in a different classroom.” I could not agree more with this statement, and I am one of said people that holds to the school of Intelligent Design.

    The question of validity between the Theory of Evolution in contrast to Intelligent Design is an issue of Cosmology, not Science, in both cases. I am not sure if you have looked, but a great many of the people who are the “fathers” of the ID movement, if you could be charitable enough to designate it a movement, are Philosophers, not Scientists. As such, they are inherently unqualified to make statements about scientific issues. In their minds, and admittedly mine too, this is not in fact a Scientific issue, but a Cosmological, and therefore Philosophical, one.

    As I understand it, the issues in question are of past events outside the capacity of applied scientific methodology of hypothesis, testing, and falsification/verification to process. As such, this is not a discussion of a thing that falls into the category of what anyone, on either side, can actually, “bring with an experimentally testable hypothesis.” The role of Science in the realm of Cosmology is simply to inform the discussion on what is possible, not what actually happened. In the case of religious belief, clearly there is a different set of events that fall within the “possible” category. You can disagree with that idea, but that is in itself something relegated to yet another classroom: Theology.

    You say, “Science allows for discussions of all things provable, even if they are not yet proved.” I think this is an highly accurate statement. “Proof” as such, is not something you can do with past events. You can show the possibility of some event happening in the past, with admittedly higher or lower levels of certainty, but you cannot find this undeniable “proof” with past and therefore non-testable, events.

    To give an example lifted from Lubenow in his book, “Bones of Contention,” (the first printing is better I think) suppose you wanted to scientifically test the hypothesis that George Washington really did cross the Delaware. You could wait for exact conditions mirroring the day it supposedly happened, get men outfitted with exactly the same physique, equipment, clothing, load, etc., that Washington and his men had, and try to row across the river. Even if you did all this, all that is proven is that it is possible for this event to have occurred, not that it actually did. As such, there is simply no “Proof” to be had one way or another using the Scientific Method for proving Evolution, nor will there ever be. Such is the nature of Cosmological issues.

    As such, I firmly agree with you that issues of Cosmology, like Evolution and Intelligent Design, should be relegated to the Philosophy department rather than the Science lab. That is, admittedly, hard to do when it helps greatly to have a cognitive framework for the interpretation of piles and piles of data.

    For the sake of full disclosure, I am myself trained in Philosophy, not Science as such. So, I assume some bias in my assessment of the issue toward my own particular field.

    All the best to you fine folks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.