Sunday, August 21, 2005

Intelligent Design, Darwinism, and science

David Limbaugh writes another column today about Intelligent Design (ID), which was brought back to the forefront of public discussion a few weeks ago following remarks from President Bush (I recently wrote about ID vs. Creationism here).

Darwinists claim that ID isn't scientific because it's not falsifiable. Advocates of design theory would probably disagree, since they have developed strict scientific and mathematical criteria for detecting design. Thus, we can tell if something is designed or not; science will show us one way or the other. And of course, unlike creationism, ID is rooted in the empirical investigation of the material world.

But nevertheless, it may be questionable just how “falsifiable” origins theories are. Origins or historical science attempts to discover what happened in the past, or how something came to be, by looking at the evidence today. But whether or not we deem these theories “falsifiable,” it is a well-developed scientific discipline.

Ironically, one historical theory that’s apparently not falsifiable is macroevolution – the same theory Darwinists are attempting to defend by claiming ID isn’t falsifiable. Darwinists generally attempt to "prove" its falsifiability by pointing to various tests on specific theories of microevolution, which can be shown to be true or false. Yes, microevolutionary theories are usually falsifiable; microevolution is not historical science, while macroevolution is. In fact, all the scientific evidence seems to point away from macroevolution, yet it is not “falsified.” What would falsify it? Irreducible complexity? Apparently not. In the scientific community today, macroevolution acts as more of an un-testable religious faith in defiance of science.

As one notices in their very limited dialogue with ID proponents, Darwinists typically lack the basic skills of logic in select circumstances. Why? Because they’re intellectually capable of accepting nearly anything in order to defend their worldview.

The grand Darwinian theory of macroevolution, you see, is surprisingly unsupported by the evidence. But many people recognize its philosophical implications. This is the one major scientific theory that fits with philosophical naturalism and made it intellectually respectable to be an atheist, as Richard Dawkins once said. Thus, scientists committed to naturalism latched on. Now, the scientists who accept this theory don’t do so because of the evidence, which is weak; they do so because their prior philosophical commitment demands it (multiple Darwinists have actually admitted as much). Their worldview, which they’ve already accepted by faith, couldn’t have it any other way. All the scientific evidence is interpreted within this biased framework. In their minds, then, Darwinism couldn’t possibly be false.

Darwinists have actually defined science in order to only consist of ideas compatible with naturalism. This allows them to not have to actually argue the merits of various theories; ideas inconsistent with their philosophy (e.g., ID) aren’t “scientific,” and so they’re excluded from debate.

It’s true that science is only concerned with learning about the physical world, not the non-physical. Indeed, science should be the reasoned, empirical investigation of the material world, but we should follow this empirical, physical evidence wherever it leads. It may point to an area that is arbitrarily ruled “un-scientific” by definition, and thus deemed untrue. This, of course, is tragic, because it limits scientific knowledge and the unprejudiced pursuit of truth. As in the days of Galileo, scientific progress is taking a hit because of the mistaken thinking of religious zealots. (Update: Alan Shlemon quotes Stephen Meyer, who puts it well: "Imagine you're an archaeologist and you're looking at an inscription, and you say, 'Well, sorry, that looks like it's intelligent but we can't invoke an intelligent cause because, as a matter of method, we have to limit ourselves to materialistic processes…That would be nuts." Shlemon also quotes Douglas Axe: “If we've defined science such that it cannot get to the true answer, we've got a pretty lame definition of science.” The means (which is indeed materialistic) is what defines science, not the conclusion it ultimately reaches.)

But as more and more scientists speak out against Darwinism on scientific grounds, philosophical naturalism is losing its stranglehold on the scientific world. Macroevolution is gradually being exposed to the scrutiny of science itself, for the entire world to see.

More: see ARN, the Discovery Institute, and the ID blogs on my blogroll.

Update: The embarrassing subtitle for this MSNBC article about Bill Frist's support for ID reads: "Senator encourages teaching of faith-based theory alongside evolution." Faith-based? Of course, Frist himself doesn't understand ID, either, but he should be applauded for at least giving it more exposure.

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