Monday, March 5, 2012

Is Intelligent Design Real Science?

PREACHER: Current advancements and discoveries in science suggest that the universe was after all created by an Intelligent Being.  There are competent scientists in almost every field that would agree that it takes more faith (a better word might be conjecture) to believe that there is no Creator God than to believe that there is.

SKEPTIC: When you say "discoveries in science," I assume you're talking about Intelligent Design. However, the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that Intelligent Design is not really science at all, but rather a pseudoscience that is nothing but an attempt to dress up traditional creationism in a "scientific" package. Its only proponents come out of the Discovery Institute, a right-wing conservative think tank. The whole idea came about after the Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that creationism couldn't be taught in public schools because it was intended to advance a particular religion and therefore violated the separation of church and state. No problem, thought creationists, we'll just repackage creationism as "science" and leave the religion part out of it, and then we'll be able to sneak it into America's classrooms. Unfortunately for them, the courts weren't quite as gullible as they had counted on, and they were shot down in Dover, Pennsylvania when they attempted to introduce ID into the Dover school system in 2005. The judge stated that ID was NOT science, and ruled that it was unconstitutional because it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents." D'oh! It's back to the drawing board...

PREACHER: Pardon me, but I think you are a little out of date both from the science angle and the news angle. Furthermore, such good creationist groups as Answers in Genesis are not asking that Intelligent Design or creationism be taught in the public schools. An atheist science teacher would do a bad job of it, just as Christian science teachers probably do a bad job of teaching evolution. What they are asking is that students be allowed to use critical thinking in the science class, and be able to question the erroneous assumptions that are behind so-called molecule-to-man evolution, and competent biologists who are not religious would admit the problems (that which they just assume). 

SKEPTIC: You say that creationists aren't asking for ID to be taught in public schools, but that evolution should be questioned in the science classroom. So the next step isn't to introduce the idea of a Biblical creation? Is that what you mean? You're willing to just leave it at having teachers introduce the idea that evolution could be wrong, with no reference to creationism or the idea that God (or an "intelligent designer") created the world? Forgive me if I find that hard to swallow. You want to teach creationism? Teach it in a comparative religion class, not a science class. And by the way, if a Christian can't find a way to teach evolution in a science classroom, he has no business being a science teacher.

PREACHER: Christians are indeed teaching evolution in the science classroom, but many times they tell their students that they don't need to believe it. They say that because they are not convinced that evolution is a proven fact. Shouldn’t science be about the real world that we can observe and about facts that are indisputable, that can be verified? Don’t all views about origins including the theory of evolution (since it can’t be verified) fit better in a comparative religion class? Evolution would be in the category of naturalism. I believe, and you do too, that science is about what is verifiable. Since evolution isn't occurring before our eyes, it is not verifiable by science. Whether you believe that the world came about by natural processes or by the supernatural creative work of God doesn't make you a better or worse scientist for neither are verifiable by experimental science. However, observable science suggests to me that there has to be a Creator. Everything is designed too well to have come about by natural processes.

SKEPTIC: Firstly, you're right that "evolution isn't occurring before our eyes." But it has been observed and recorded over time, and has been verified to the satisfaction of pretty much the entire scientific community around the world. Secondly, having a fundamentalist Christian science teacher telling his students that they don't need to believe in evolution would be a bit like having a history teacher telling his students that the holocaust didn't really happen. Finally, when you talk about "everything being designed too well to have come about by natural processes," you are invoking the well-worn watchmaker argument. Of course, the biggest problem with that argument is the question of "if complex organisms require a designer, then who designed the designer?

PREACHER: An eternal designer doesn’t need to be designed, He always existed. What has been observed is the genetic change in certain organisms, particularly microorganisms that change rapidly. These changes have always been a process of the loss or reshuffling of genetic information, not the attainment of new genetic information, so they are not the kind of process that leads from the simple to the complex as in molecule-to-man evolution. The assumption that at particular times in history new genetic information developed in organisms that caused them to advance is based only on conjecture. There is no way to verify that it actually happened. Evolutionists extrapolate on so-called genetic changes and figure that with a lot of time all species could have developed from the simplest kind of life form. Such an extrapolation is based on an unverifiable assumption that those genetic changes would actually produce more advanced kinds of organisms. History records for us that the opinions of much of the scientific community around the world have been wrong many times before. Add to that that many in the scientific community are professing atheists, it is not surprising that their worldview makes them jump to absurd conclusions.

SKEPTIC: Right, because if a scientist is an atheist, he naturally will jump to absurd conclusions. That's pretty insulting. The fact is that science has always represented man's best effort at finding the truth in a logical and methodical manner. When evidence is presented that science may have gotten something wrong, it is able to make a course correction - something which is virtually impossible to do when it comes to matters of faith, which rely heavily on rigid dogma.

PREACHER: You might be surprised to discover that it is the Bible that reveals a God who gave the universe order so we can understand it. It is because of the world view that is presented in the Bible that science works. It seems clear to me that neither science nor reason are aligned with atheism. How can atheists in sincerity claim that what they believe is at all scientific or reasonable? How do you know that atheism isn’t just an absolute lie?

SKEPTIC: Why do I believe in atheism? It's not a question of believing in atheism - it's a question of what makes more sense when it comes to the question of evolution versus creationism - that we have arrived at where we are today through a series of infinitesimal changes over billions of years, or that some sort of magical, supernatural being just one day a few thousand years ago commanded that everything appear and "voila" - humans, animals and all living things just suddenly appeared on the earth? Natural vs. supernatural, reality vs. myth, science vs. religion...

PREACHER: It looks to me like you don’t understand the difference between science and history.  Scientific method only deals with the present, what you can actually measure and observe now. History tells of the past through written documents, and cannot be verified by the scientific method. We must trust those documents based on the character of those who wrote them. So called, supernatural events in the past are attested by written documents. Using the scientific method to verify those events is about as absurd as using bathroom scales to measure the distance between Okinawa and Okayama. So, why did you decide to be an atheist?

SKEPTIC:You know, I remember when I was ten I asked my Sunday School teacher, "If there are all those other people in other countries who believe in a different religion, how do we know that ours is the true religion? Her answer was, "we just have to have faith!" It was a less than satisfying answer. Even as a dumb ten-year-old kid, I was smart enough to know that those people who belonged to other religions probably also claimed to have an equal amount of faith. So it became clear to me that not all religions could be true, but that all religions could certainly be, and probably were, false.

PREACHER: Your Sunday school teacher gave you a correct answer in as much as faith pleases God. And of course that faith has to be towards the right Object of worship. Faith in a lie doesn’t please God. But, I can see that her answer wasn’t sufficient for your inquisitive (not dumb) mind. I can see that even at the age of 10 you had some unverified assumptions about reality. Your statement: “I was smart enough to know that those people who belonged to other religions probably also claimed to have an equal amount of faith” is very telling! Even at that early age it sounds like you placed more credibility in the opinions of men than in the revealed Word of God. I asked the same kind of questions to my Sunday school teacher when I was that age. He gave my mind a lot more information to chew on than your teacher did. And did that make a difference!