Monday, October 17, 2005

"Well Explained" Design

The Dover ID-ers got a scientist to testify on their behalf in the court case. For those who have somehow missed it, the Dover, PA school board is trying to force Intelligent Design into the science curriculum...

Michael Behe is a biology teacher at Lehigh University. UNIVERSITY! He has some very unscientific things to say. Here's a good excerpt:

evolution cannot fully explain the biological complexities of life, suggesting the work of an intelligent force
Ohhhhhh-kay. Since evolution cannot explain something in its field, the ONLY other possibility is that it must be the work of an intelligent designer. Let me try that. Hmmmmmmmm. I was sitting in my room when the light went out. I checked the filament. It was intact. I checked the circuit breaker. It had not tripped. I checked the plug. It was plugged in. Oh my gosh! An Intelligent Designer must have removed the luminosity from the light.

Sheesh. You'd think that a college biologist would be quick to point out that gaps are being filled in all the time as people conduct more research and investigation.

And even if there is an Intelligent Designer, what does that have to do with Science class?

Honestly, I'd be comfortable with making sure that the science texts containing evolution contained language that explained what a scientific theory is. That evolution is a theory, albeit a strong one. And that there are holes in evolution that many people are studying in order to try to fill the gaps. There. Now evolution is not presented as all-encompassing. It is still presented accurately. And it is up to the listener to decide by whatever means they have at their disposal what should fill those gaps. No institutional religion. Just scientific method.

Another good section which I'm sure is not fully explained in the article is where:
[Behe] made a scientific argument that blood-clotting "is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design."
Now, without seeing his scientific argument, it's tough to refute it. However, it likely falls back to my original complaint. If [well reasoned argument about why clotting doesn't work under Darwin], then [a miracle occurred]. It's very tidy to say something happens because it was supposed to happen, but it's not verifiable. And it discounts the more plausible "we just haven't ound the explanation yet".

And to the faithful out there, I am a religious man. I believe in Creation. But I do not believe it is literal. My religious beliefs and my scientific knowledge coexist reasonably harmoniously. That's because I do not let my faith contradict observable science. I am reminded o this Douglas Adams quote from Hitchhiker's:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.