February 07, 2005

Intelligent Design: Bad Faith

Anyone with the time and interest can learn about biology and evolution. Many colleges have a good biology program, and every serious biological sciences journal can provide more evidence for evolution in its pages. Yet "intelligent design" (ID) supporters, having no proof to present, can only cast stones.

It's easy to learn some science lingo to use on the op-ed page, knowing that a full answer to even one question might be longer than the newspaper they're asked in. But this is how ID advocates fight. They make false claims in newspapers and at school board meetings, to an audience that doesn't have time to follow up all the arguments.

Here's what they hope you don't know: some extremist conservative and religious think tanks spent millions over the last decade on research fellowships and public relations, trying to convince the public that ID is science, not a repackaged religious dogma. After all that, they don't have one piece of research supporting their claim. They can only misrepresent scientific theories.
Science only deals with questions that can be answered by collecting facts through observation or experiment. If an explanation of the results is supported by all the evidence so far, and can be used to make testable predictions, it will be accepted as a theory.

Without evidence, you don't have science, much less a scientific theory.

To most people, a theory is a hunch or guess. In science, an explanation like evolution is only accepted because of overwhelming proof. Yet even our ideas on gravity are only considered theories; not because scientists don't think gravity happens, but because it hasn't been fully explained yet.
Today, the only scientific disagreements over evolution concern how it works, not whether it happens.

Yet this is why many people of faith are comfortable with evolution, and science in general. They know that science only speaks to how the material world works, it doesn't deal with metaphysics.

Religion, in contrast, is based on faith. In the case of Christianity, Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as an "assured expectation of things hoped for," but "not beheld." As to its importance, Galatians 2:16 says a person can be "declared righteous... only through faith." Then in Romans 4:14, it's explained that if following laws made people heir to God's promises, "faith has been made useless and the promise has been abolished."

That kind of faith shouldn't be destroyed by discovering how old the earth is. Either you believe or you don't, and if you have an inferiority complex about believing in something that can't be proved, don't take it out on students and scientists.

Often, ID supporters will suggest that believing in steady rates of change over time is "just" faith. Though the evidence stands with geology and evolution , the interesting thing isn't their shoddy science. When trying to discredit science, they say it's "only" another mythology, another religious denomination. They insult science for not being rigorous enough, speaking from an alleged high ground that claims to worship a scientific ideal. Then they claim they can use science to measure and validate God.

That says more about their reserves of faith than it does about science.

I used to think of ID as creationism, but not anymore. To believe in creation requires faith in a supreme being, yet they trivialize it. They insist they're scientists, but that would require showing some proof. So to bad science, and bad faith, good riddance.

This article was published in a slightly different form on the op-ed page of a local student newspaper.

Posted by natasha at February 7, 2005 09:11 PM | Science | TrackBack(2) | Technorati links |

Good article, Natasha!

Posted by: Patrick at February 8, 2005 04:01 AM

The really scary thing is how many Americans don't buy science or evolution. According to a Gallup poll in Novemeber 45% of Americans believe God created man 10,000 years ago. The 16th century has made an encore in the USA.

Posted by: Ron In Portland at February 8, 2005 09:49 PM

The American Taliban. Hardly original yet thoroughly appropriate.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at February 9, 2005 11:10 AM

Actually, I believe it was 6000 years ago, in October that God created the world.

Dr. John Lightfoot, in 1640, using certain events listed in the Bible, then computing them backward arrived at the date of Creation at October 23rd, 4004 BCE ... 9am GMT....after a continental breakfast of coffee and juice. http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_date.htm

Now, where was the party for Earth's 6000 year birthday? Seems that would have been one for the ages.

I can only speak from personal experience but I can only find enough empirical evidence that supports the age of the Earth at barely 46 years.

The Earth was created on Feb. 11, 1959.

Posted by: David Aquarius at February 9, 2005 11:13 AM

No, David, I personally remember some things earlier than that. I vote for 1956.

Posted by: Patrick at February 10, 2005 04:43 AM