Our flunked ‘rebel’ at the appropriately named movie ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ has made some claims which he believes are relevant to understanding the science and fact of evolution. Since our flunked ‘rebel has obviously missed many of the relevant science and education classes during his many ‘days off’ , we would not want his friends to be similarly affected. Even though exposing the flaws in our juvenile ‘rebel’ is as easy as taking Ben Stein’s money, the results can serve as a fair warning to other ‘rebels’ ready to imitate our flunked ‘rebel’.
Using his questions and assertions, we can explore the disastrous effects of Intelligent Design (ID) on scientific education as we observe him mindlessly and purposefully parroting the ID argument from personal ignorance and incredulity (perhaps less rebelling and more studying would have helped):
Our Flunked Rebel wrote:
Each of these discoveries has, in one way or another, led a growing number of scientists to reconsider the simple view espoused by Darwin that life is a random, purposeless, chance occurrence. The universe, and life itself – is turning out to be far more complex and mysterious – than Darwin could possibly have imagined.
Two phrases, and yet each phrase is flawed in a variety of ways.
Each of these discoveries has, in one way or another, led a growing number of scientists to reconsider the simple view
While science indeed is always evolving and we have learned much since the days of Darwin, few scientists are ‘reconsidering’ the elegant and well supported arguments formulated by Darwin. In fact, scientists are coming to the conclusion that there are many additional processes which are relevant to evolution such as development, neutral evolution, and epigenetics, however few have come to reject the concept of variation and selection as first formulated by Charles Darwin.
the simple view espoused by Darwin that life is a random, purposeless, chance occurrence
Now, anyone familiar with the issues would notice how this description is misleading and in fact also untrue. Again, if our rebel friend would have been in class when they discussed the concept of science, he would have known that Darwin’s view was not that life is a random, purposeless, chance occurrence.
For the benefit of our flunked ‘rebel’, let’s examine these words in more detail. For instance ‘random’, while not necessarily used by Darwinian theory, it refers to the concept proposed by neo-Darwinian theory that variation is random with respect to immediate need. In fact, anyone familiar with Darwinian theory, and not asleep during biology classes, knows that the theory involves at least two components; namely variation and selection. While variation may be random in the sense described earlier, the combined process is far from random.
Now we get to the word which shows how our flunked ‘rebel’ fails to understand the concept of science. Science does not allow us to state if evolution is purposeless. In fact this concept has no place in scientific theory. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural entity.
Our rebel, in his almost childlike enthusiasm also has been misled into believing that there is a scientific theory of Intelligent Design.
The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations.
Note that Intelligent Design first of all lacks a theory, and second of all, is not about detecting detecting ‘intelligent causes’ but about detecting design which is defined as the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance”, or in other words that which remains when science has eliminated some scientific processes as explanations for a particular system. In other words, design is nothing more than a synonym for our ignorance, or historically better known as a ‘gap argument’. Few Intelligent Design proponents have realized how through the (ab)use of terminology, a bait and switch argument has been proposed where complexity and information are defined to equivocate with how people more commonly interpret such terminology.
Now, the following may come as an even bigger shock to our flunked ‘rebel’, but as admitted to by ID proponents themselves, there does not exist a theory of Intelligent Design. In fact, Intelligent Design, as formulated presently as a negative argument, will continue to lack a theory. And many have come to see this as ‘by design’.
Young Earth Creationist and Intelligent Design Creationist Paul Nelson stated:
Paul Nelson wrote:
Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’-but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.
Source: Paul Nelson, The Measure of Design Touchstone Magazine 7/8 (2004): pp 64 – 65.
Philip “Godfather of ID” Johnson similarly observed:
Philip Johnson wrote:
I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.
Source: Philip Johnson In the matter of Berkeley v. Berkeley by Michelangelo D’Agostino 10, 2006 p31 Berkeley Science Review
and Bruce Gordon, who was interim Director at the Polanyi Center after Dembski’s unfortunate ‘Waterloo’ email caused his own untimely ‘Waterloo’.
Bruce Gordon wrote:
Design theory has had considerable difficulty gaining a hearing in academic contexts, as evidenced most recently by the the Polanyi Center affair at Baylor University. One of the principle reasons for this resistance and controversy is not far to seek: design-theoretic research has been hijacked as part of a larger cultural and political movement. In particular, the theory has been prematurely drawn into discussions of public science education where it has no business making an appearance without broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the natural world.
Source: Bruce Gordon Intelligent Design Movement Struggles with Identity Crisis Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology. January 2001, p. 9
Somehow our ‘rebel’ was not told about these little facts.
To which I can only present the following quote:
“I bow to your superior intellect. I’m amazed, I’m impressed, I hate you, take my money, get out of here, you’ve done enough damage!”