Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Betting on ID

Tech Central Station has a column laying out five reasons why intelligent design will win in the end. Taken in reverse order:
5)ID will win because ID assumes that man will find design in life -- and, as the mind of man is hard-wired to detect design, man will likely find what he seeks.

The human mind seeks order in everything. The entire body of knowledge available to mankind reflects our incorrigible desire to analyze, systemize, hypothesize, and theorize.
Systemizing and theorizing is diferent than finding design. The point retains a bit of validity, in that people like simple explainations, even bad ones. But people also like good explainations. Saying "God did it" cannot explain why God did it the way he did. We are left rationalizing all kinds of things - from fossils to natural disasters - after the fact. Science, on the other hand, can give us very specific explainations of things like biogeography, taxonomy, fossils, etc. that wouldn't work if the facts were otherwise.
4)ID will win because it can piggyback on the growth of information theory, which will attract the best minds in the world over the next fifty years.
This one's never made sense to me. It works only by blindly rejecting the idea that evolution can do what scientists think it does.
3)ID will win because it can be reconciled with any advance that takes place in biology, whereas Darwinism cannot yield even an inch of ground to ID.

So you've discovered the missing link? Proven that viruses distribute super-complex DNA proteins? Shown that fractals can produce evolution-friendly three-dimensional shapes? It doesn't matter. To the ID mind, you're just pushing the question further down the road.
This actually shows why ID will fail as science, even if it suceeds as popular philosophy. Push God back far enough, and you've pushed him outside the realm of science. Also, ID on this model is impossible to test, and cannot be science.
2)ID will win because the pro-Darwin crowd is acting like a bunch of losers.

"Ewww…intelligent design people! They're just buck-toothed Bible-pushing nincompoops with community-college degrees who're trying to sell a gussied-up creationism to a cretinous public! No need to address their concerns or respond to their arguments. They are Not Science. They are poopy-heads."

There. I just saved you the trouble of reading 90% of the responses to the ID position.
First, it's amusing to note that "losers" is the word he uses to introduce a complaint about name-calling.

Haven't seen the buck-toothed complaint. The part about suspicious degrees holds up in some cases, though I haven't seen it used against Michael Behe. And yes, ID is largely driven by Christian fundamentalism, and the beliefs of many members, including founder Philip Johnson, are identical to what used to be called creationism. Any time I've seen it said that ID isn't science, there are arguments for why this is so. Haven't heard the poopy-head one either.
1)ID will win because it's a religion-friendly, conservative-friendly, red-state kind of theory, and no one will lose money betting on the success of red-state theories in the next fifty to one hundred years.
I'll conceed this one. Religious prejudice just might beat out good science. Gulp.

Hat tip: UTI

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