Wednesday, February 02, 2005

the "scientific" "theory" of intelligent design

"It's another way of saying God did it. It isn't a model of change; it isn't a theory that makes testable claims."

with goodness and decency restored in office this we-think-the-universe-sits-on-top-of-a-giant-turtle belief will probably coexist with the theory of evolution in the science textbooks. here's a good pop up-filled article on it:


Jeffrey Hill said...

Do you think evolution should stand alone as an explanation of our species?

mat said...

currently, yes. there are plenty of mysteries and unknowns in nature. what scientist would not want to be the first to discover an "irreducible complexity" in a biological system--a glimpse of god?

right now, i.d. is not science. maybe they could change the sticker on the textbook to read: "concerning evolution: it is a theory. other than that, we don't know where the hell we came from." or the teacher could teach them the definition of "theory."

8th Man said...

That sticker baffles me. Mostly because of the word theory as was mentioned in the article.
From a site:
In science, a theory is much more than a guess or an idea. A theory is a proposed explanation for observed phenomena based upon all of the observations. A theory has to take into account all the results of the experiment, not just some of them. A theory must also be testable – it has to generate a prediction which can be tested. If a theory fails the test, then it is discarded. If it passes the test then the theory is provisionally accepted while new, different tests are generated. Theories and ideas in science are constantly being assailed and tested. Sometimes the theory is saved by making some modifications, other times the theory is tossed out entirely and a new one is developed.
There is a theory that the earth goes around the sun, perhaps there should be a sticker for that as well.

Steve said...

It's always seemed to me that the unspoken argument against evolution (by those of the more... erm... religious mindset) is that at it's core that it undermines the belief instilled in people by creationist (and "intelligent design") ideas that humanity is somehow above and apart from ewverything elese. In short - evolution says that we're just very very lucky monkeys, as opposed to God's special little monkey as I.D. would have us believe.

Beyond the sheer chance factor of it all, there's the fact that we've got such interesting things as language, tools, and an exponentially increasing lifespan. If evolution doesn't happen, why don't we all die off around 40 or 50 like was the average at the times of Jesus?

To me, the fact that for a rather underpowered and environmentally suscpetible animal... we've pretty much come to dominte the biopsphere would indicate that regardless of our origins, we can take some sort os speciest pride in being what we are.

The I.D. and Creationism folks can't accept these things at face value as proving that while we are still part of the ebb and flow of the circle of poop (thankew South PArk) we have somehow managed to move ourselves into a position of (I don't want to use "superiority" here perhaps) dominance, with or without the intervention of some big angry daddybeard in the sky smiting our enemies and the predatory animals we had to contend with while still hunter gatherers.

Having read Darwin's Black Box... the "bible" of I.D. theory (pun very intended) I found that even with my minimal recollection of biology and physiology... there was something inherently lacking in the author's argument.

The central lynchpin of I.D. says that things like Mitochondria cannot have happened to evolved... they're too complex. It that this central thesis doesn't take into account such things as viral invasion causing disruption of cellular function, or that the very concept of mutation over time can even exist...

Given that we have now seen where a virus can hijack a cell's funciton for it's own benefit (this is why HIV leads to AIDS dontchaknow) why wouldn't it be possible that if perhaps the I.D. camp is right in that we didn't evolve mitochnodria, but at some point, a viral ancestor of mitochondria invaded a host organism's cells, and wound up with a host that didn't die from it, but instead the two wound up in a mutually beneficial host/parasite relationship. Since virii are right on the borderline between DNA strings and actual organisms... it seems to me that it would be possible for this cooperative relationship to eventually cause an assimilation of the two critters into one.

As a parallel (but not a proof) think of all the little tiny critters that live in yer guts and help in digestion... they're part of you... but aren't you... since they get killed off everytime you have to take antibiotics for an ifection, but YOU don't get killed off.

Anyway... back to the central point. Here's a little gendankenspielen I like to throw at the I.D./Creationsit camp:

Why couldn't the designer be an alien? An honest to whatever extraterrestrial creature, with a moral structure completely outside the realm of what we consider to be "inspired by our understanding of 'God'?"
I mean - what if I.D. was due to some Bug Eyed Monster from Barnard's Star bopped through the outer bits of the then younger milhy way... say the cooling rock that would eventually become the earth, and thought:
"Hey - wouldn't it be neat to make that little rock there orbiting that star into a nifty little terrarium?" and then tweaked things so that we eventually came about?
No intention to make something in it's image, or to love the world that it would later give the world's it's only begotten Xorqtl, but basically saw earth as a convenient petri dish to try out some of things it had just learned in it's science class.

How come we don't hear more folks in the I.D. camp espousing this view?