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0 comments | Friday, October 07, 2005

With Intelligent Design (ID) now in the courtroom, numerous opponents of ID are attempting to discredit it by calling it a “religious” argument. Calling ID “religious” is a dirty trick which tries to evade the issue of whether or not it is a scientific method or has any scientific merit. Just because ID happens to support a certain theological view point, does not mean it is objectionable. Calling ID “religious” does not discount scientific methodology.

First, you can call ID “religious” all you want, but it accomplishes nothing. It’s the equivalent of calling it a “Swiss cheese sandwich”; it means nothing. The question regarding ID should be, “Is it scientific?”

The ACLU seems to have already concluded their analysis. This is what they have to say about ID:

…the ACLU is leading the legal challenge against the activists and political lobbyists who are attempting to insert their personal religious beliefs into science education, as if it were science. By trying to use governments to give the prestigious label of “science” to their beliefs, these activists are misleading children and parents and endanger religious freedom for all Americans.

“Intelligent design” is a pseudo-science that has been repudiated by every leading scientific organization, including the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Each of these organizations asserts that the ideas promoted by ID advocates lack any scientific merit and that their claims cannot be supported by scientific research.
The ACLU holds nothing back, and is far from shy on expressing their position on ID. In fact, they seem quit hostile toward ID. But notice, however, that they say, “[ID is]... attempting to insert their personal religious beliefs into science education”. How does ID do this? At best, ID infers some type of Designer (could even be an alien), and maybe Deism, but not Theism. Secondly, this ignores Dembski’s Explanatory Filter which is currently being used in science already.

For example, take NASA's SETI program, which seeks to identify the presence of extra- terrestrial life, and how statisticians and computer scientists distinguish random from non-random strings of digits. This can be exemplified in the movie Contact. In the movie Contact the SETI researchers found the prime numbers from 2 to 101, where a given prime number is represented by the corresponding number of beats (i.e., 1’s), and the individual prime numbers are separated by pauses (i.e., 0’s). The SETI researchers in Contact took this signal as decisive confirmation of an extraterrestrial intelligence; but why?

What is it about this signal that decisively indicates design? Whenever we infer design, we must establish two things—complexity and specification. Complexity ensures that the object in question is not so simple that it can readily be explained by chance. Specification ensures that this object exhibits the type of pattern that is the trademark of intelligence (hence, Explanatory Filter).

Here is what the SETI Institute had to say about what scientists have to say about their program:

For more than forty years, SETI science has received the highest seal of approval available to astronomy-related science. Every ten years, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences produces a decadal report of the priorities for astronomy and astrophysics. SETI has been repeatedly endorsed in each review. The most recent report (the reviews occur once every ten years), released in 2000 and covering the period 2000-2010, was particularly clear in its praise of the Allen Telescope Array and its potential, noting that "SETI research demands continued development of innovative technology and approaches, " and describing the ATA (at the time referred to as 1Ht) as … [the Allen Telescope Array] is "a good example of such an innovative approach," that "will pioneer new radio techniques."
According to SETI, they have received “the highest seal of approval” in science. However, why is the same methodology used in ID, considered not science—and who gets to decide? This shows that science in not driven by just methodology, but philosophy. Also, this also shows that philosophy—trumps the method in science. I will admit that I am not fully informed on all the aspects of ID (yet I have a reasonable grasp) and I am not a scientist; it would take some time to study the subject to its fullest. Nevertheless, let’s scrap the dirty little tricks and just concentrate on whether ID is science or not.

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