Thursday, January 19, 2006

Some further discussion of Intelligent Design

I don't know why I can't let sleeping dogs lie, but I'm going to try to flesh out why I think ID is bad science and what my belief is, again. Unfortunately since his good series of posts, we haven't seen Hefe to get his educated feedback on this ongoing discussion.

(sidenote: the blogosphere is a strange place. I've never met Hefe, never spoken to him and never even heard his voice. Only know him through his comments here and a few private e-mails. Now that he is "gone", I'm left wondering what happened. Did he get angry at me and leave? Did his internet access get cut? Was he maimed by a tiger and is in hospital? As much as the blogosphere connects people, it will never replace proximity and face to face interactions.)

In a series of e-mail between gurufrisbee and myself, I've tried to explain why I think Intelligent Design is faulty. It has been a passionate discussion and over time as I dissected point by point and he redissected, I lost the plot. I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I'm going to try to see the forest again with this post. It will cover a lot of ground already covered, so sorry.

Let's start off with the basics. The controversy surrounding Intelligent Design is whether it should be taught in science classes in school. I think the basic requirement to be in the science curriculum is that the subject be scientific. I do believe ID fails this simple test. I don't think it is too much to ask of our hard sciences that they "must give results that are reproducible; these results are falsifiable by empirical process in identifying the case where the theory does not work; and its results have predictive power.'"

I don't think ID ever passes that hurdle. We can't reproduce any creative designing action by some unknown intelligent designer. We can't predict the next time the designer will design and grace Earth with the next best creation. Finally, I don't think ID is falsifiable because it seems based on a circular argument. Some stuff is über-complicated. Why? Because it can't be made. Why? Because stuff is über-complicated. Why? Because it can't be made. Why? Because stuff is über-complicated. Why? etc. Failing all three tests, it seems to me and every judge that has ruled on ID, that should keep ID out of the biology classroom.

Does that mean, like MoLak-Jedi asks, that I believe "that Darwinian Evolution explains how we got to be where we are at." To certain extent yes. I think the evidence for evolution is pretty overwhelming.

Does it adequately solve every question I have about the beginning of time, the universe and mankind? No. In fact, I'm sympathetic to IDs critiques of evolution. How did these extremely complex and well designed features (eyeball, etc) show up? So in a certain sense, I like ID as a foil to evolutionism, but it is much closer to a philosophy than a hard science.

Ultimately one reaches the way dark early days of the universe and evolution starts to look pretty shaky. With incredibly long odds that any sort of life would develop and certainly develop as diverse and complex as it has today, one has to look at those numbers and ask a serious question. Am I a gambler? If yes, then one accepts those long odds. If one isn't, then the logical move is to God or an intelligent designer.

But we've long left science. It has turned into one's belief in numbers and odds. The limits of natural explanations or the existence of the supernatural.

Where do I stand on all this? I look around at the beauty, diversity and complexity of life and can't find myself playing the numbers game. I firmly believe in the God of the Old and New Testament. I do believe that the love between the Trinity produced our universe. I do believe that God provided the spark and direction life. I just don't believe that the world was created as it is now. That change has occured over time.

Somewhere along the line, God looked down from heaven in search of a being to love and to be loved by. He surveyed the Earth and chose a single man to engage with. ID proponents seem to want to think that God chose humans because we are somehow more important than the rest of his creation. I see them as having this backwards. We are more important than the rest of creation because God has a relationship with us. It isn't that God has a relationship with us because we are more important than the rest of creation. I think this is why the fight over ID is so important. If we are just random chance, then God didn't have to chose us. He could have chosen any other animal. Therefore, I'm not extra-special. I want to be extra-special so God must have been designing me from the beginning.

The discussion revolving around "made in his image" is a crucial point for me. I've met many ID proponents or full-fledged creationists who read "made in his image" as meaning God has a human form with 2 arms, 2 legs, white skin, etc. I've never ever read it that way. To do so means monkeys are made in God's image as well.

I feel that worldview is all wrong. To be made in God's image means we have a sense of morality. We know the difference between right and wrong and can be held accountable for our actions. Unfortunatley, Adam failed and left us cursed with sin.

Does this mean my God doesn't get involved in the world today? Absolutely not. I believe in miracles. I believe in a man literally raised from the dead after 3 days. I believe in water to wine, walking on water, the lame walking, the blind seeing - the whole thing. But that isn't science. Science can't explain any of those. Those were supernatural events, when a super (above) natural being reached down and changed the rules about possibility.

I can live with that. A natural world, ruled by natural laws that are sometimes upended by supernatural intervention. That works for me. It may not work for you. However, it certainly doesn't work in a 9th grade biology classroom.