ID and ego


Anyone who reads the news/blogs knows by now that ID is on its way out in Dover, PA (the first school district to require it in the curriculum), eliciting an “IDiotic retort from Pat Robertosn”:http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/13137318.htm. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why ol’ Pat likes ID in the first place. It’s pretty much like saying the creation story is true, except God didn’t do it but some anonymous person did it. Or something like that. At any rate, this phenomenon — making up pseudo-science for political purposes, is one that I’d rather not have happen again.

On the other side of the coin, many anti-ID’ers in the blogosphere have started breaking their own rules. In one sentence, they’ll scream “argument from incredulity”:http://skepdic.com/dvinefal.html and then turn around and say something like the following:

bq. What, I wonder, are we then to make of the degraded remnants of old viral DNA in our genome? Designed in there, or not? Or what about the long stretches that seem to do nothing but repeat the same few base-pair letters over and over – dozens, hundreds, or thousands of times? Doubtless the Designer would have his reasons, but perhaps some of these would have been better implemented with repeats that aren’t so prone to breakage and mismatch. Hundreds of terrible diseases result.

This quote was by “Derek Lowe”:http://www.corante.com/pipeline/archives/2005/11/07/intelligent_design_molecule_by_molecule.php, whose opinion I usually respect. However, the logic I see here is “This feature (e.g. ‘long stretches that seem to do nothing’) doesn’t make sense to me, therefore it couldn’t have been intelligently designed.” It sounds a lot like argument from incredulity masquerading as skepticism.

But effectively, I have to meekly agree with the skeptics here: ID does not belong in the science classroom. I believe that creation stories ought to be taught in the classroom as part of the core curriculum as part of humankind’s attempt to make sense out of our lives, or, as Orac puts it (yeah, yeah, I agree with even Orac on this one) in a comparative religion class. ID is simply not science. It is religion in a labcoat, plain and simple, and I think it’s dishonest to say that, through careful experimentation and observation, that creationism has stood the test of time as a scientific theory.

Creationism is, on the other hand, a valid attempt to explain our existence. It is part of a religion. (Many religions, in fact.) And religion is a valid part of human experience. So, in a backhanded way, I think that ID’ers are denying and invalidating the religious part of the experience. And that’s why I’m surprised Pat is backing them.

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5 Responses

  1. As a relatively enlightened christian (well … Episcopalian, but close enough), I have always wondered what the big fuss is about. It seems sufficient to me that God created a process of evolution. To say that He micromanages the process — as the IDers seem to believe — is inconsistent with the mainstream theological notion that God endowed man with the gift of free will. If the Creator had a plan in mind for the evolutionary process, mankind screws it up by abusing the gift of free will (think “Blinky the fish” from the classic Simpsons episode).

    My children have enough opportunities to further their spiritual growth that we do not need to see a misguided religious construct inserted into science class.

  2. You know, I grew up Baptist, and my wife was Episcopalian. Going to her church was definitely an eye-opening experience.

  3. I do come rather close to shooting myself in the foot there, true. I think what set me off on that track was the occasional mix of “intelligent” with “benevolent” that I see in some ID arguments. The short form of my argument is that the idea that we’re God’s special creation that He lavished attention on doesn’t seem, to me, to be borne out by a close look at biochemistry.

    But I’ll have to formulate that one better before I deploy it again. Which won’t be very soon over at “In the Pipeline”, let me tell you (!)

  4. And I do think your core point is fairly sound, flawed formulation aside. It is quite hard to imagine an omnibenevolent being putting pieces of retrovirus in our DNA. I don’t think science and the supernatural mix very well, and ID ignores that fact in a rather flagrant way.

  5. […] Dishonest Dembski:the Universal Probability Bound Another of Mark’s “bad math” expositions, he takes on the so-called Universal Probability Bound. The Universal Probability Bound is such a stupid concept, pretty much invented in modern times for the sake of mathematically arguing for intelligent design at least from what I can tell. (See my opinion on ID here.) (I’m not sure while Emile Borel was calculating UPBs.) […]

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