Friday, January 13, 2006

Scientists Don't Understand Intelligent Design

I wasn't really sure how to title this post. But some scientists have major misunderstandings.

I've noticed enough logical errors and faulty reasoning to get myself an A+ if I was still in my logic class in college (my professor said extra credit would be given if you could spot a logical fallacy in the press).

But one of the main things I learned in my time as philosophy student was that you need to accurately understand a position before you critique (either positively or negatively). Sadly, this is lacking in the parts of the scientific community and press.

I will give 3 examples of this.

1) Science can't prove God because the supernatural is outside the realm of science. Therefore, ID is not science. Problem: Intelligent Design proposes there are ways we detect design. One design is detected you can infer an intelligent designer. Now, a second order question is, who is that designer and what are the implications of detecting design in the expansion of the universe or in biological systems. But the implications of an answer (philosophical/theological) and the answer itself are two different things. Opponents of ID are conflating categories.

2) Scientists have recently figured out how bees fly. And they think that debunks Intelligent Design.
Proponents of intelligent design, which holds that a supreme being rather than evolution is responsible for life's complexities, have long criticized science for not being able to explain some natural phenomena, such as how bees fly.

Now scientists have put this perplexing mystery to rest.
Proponents of intelligent design, or ID, have tried in recent years to promote the idea of a supreme being by discounting science because it can't explain everything in nature.

"People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly," Altshuler said. "We were finally able to put this one to rest. We do have the tools to understand bee flight and we can use science to understand the world around us."

I'll admit I don't understand this one. If someone could point out an ID person who actually argued this, I would appreciate it.

Does the person think that ID proponents believed that bees flew by means of magic? Everytime a bee flew it was a miracle?

An ID argument would go something like this: Half of the means of flight is no ability to fly and gives an organism no Darwinian survival advantage. You need the ability to fly all at once for it to be an advantage. Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain the flight of bees. Or something like that.

3) ID proponents are pointing out things on the cellular level which are incredibly complex. Some scientists want to create single cell life in order to disprove Intelligent Design. One problem.

How does this disprove ID?

Let's go to the tape:
Some people working in synthetic biology wouldn't mind sticking a finger in Pat Robertson's eye. A leading synthetic biologists said to me recently that she is working so hard on building and animating an artificial bacterium primarily so that she can prove to advocates of intelligent design that it doesn't take a God to create life. I wish her luck, and Godspeed.

You are designing a synthetic baterium using your intelligence. ID doesn't say that it could only be created by God. It says intelligence, in general.

Now, let's grant her some of her faulty assumptions. What if I said only a genius like Jimmy Page could come up with Stairway to Heaven? And then you picked up a guitar and played Stairway to Heaven. Did that disprove anything I said. No, you were following in Jimmy Page's footsteps. And you did not randomly start playing the same thing as Jimmy Page by accident, it took intelligence.

Likewise, I wish her luck too. She's spending a lot effort to disprove something that won't be disproven even if she is successful.

I hate to inform scientists of the following: if you design something you're going to have a hard time proving something was random.

That's why I say many scientists aren't the best thinkers. Now, they may have great grasps of things within their fields, but never confuse competence in one area with competence in other areas.

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