Tag Archives: science

Beating Intelligent Design at its own game

At a time I much liked to discuss “Intelligent Design” until I learned that the people supporting it are just not interested in discourse but rather, much like Fox Mulder, want to believe no matter what anybody else might say. You can read all of that here. Be sure to follow the link in the first comment, though, to read some of the actual discussion.

Now, a good friend who knows all about that pointed me to a web site I had not been aware of before, though it is not actually new. It is the web site of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster“, a parody of “Intelligent Design”. By claiming the right of the church’s doctrine to be taught at school, those folks are exposing how weak the same claim made by the supporters of “Intelligent Design” is, too (unless the Constituion be changed).

This approach is probably far more promising than philosophical discourse alone. As must be expected, the only official responses the original open letter to a Kansas School Board in the process of deciding whether or not to include “Intelligent Design” in the curriculum were sent by members of the board already opposing the inclusion. But there are other notable successes. And the approach is also very entertaining at that. The theory is altogether hilarious, though of course Bobby Henderson is experiencing the same kind of reactions from conservative Christians I have received. But if some people feel threatened by this kind of openess of mind, by this kind of open-ended discourse, then that has nothing to do with the kind of freedom the land of the free is advertising. And if the same people refuse to understand, that it is an even bigger threat to people of different opinions if the former make religion more than a private life matter and try to impose their understanding of what will make one go to Heaven or Hell on the latter, that also reminds me of other countries and/or times, not the land of the free and the 21st century.

I wonder whether I can officially become a pastafarian and send my church taxes over there.

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Intelligent Designs

Just saw this documentary on “Intelligent Design” and it’s driving me crazy!

Of course, I knew that there is this school of thought called Creationism, but I had not been aware that it was on the curriculum in some American schools till the late nineteen-eighties. Had I gone to an American school I might have been taught that and outside religious education. I had also not been aware of how “Intelligent Design” gives the whole discussion a new twist.

Sure, everybody is and must be free to believe whatever they want, but let’s not have them call it “Science”!

It is true, we know (at the latest since Descartes) that we cannot completely prove anything. In the end, even Descartes did not go far enough, because we cannot even prove that we think and the impression I have of my current chain of thought evolving is not trick of what I imagine to be my brain while in truth there isn’t even a past or time in general. And in that theoretical sense religion and science are not fundamentally different: Both rely on peer consensus for the building of a doctrine. But of course the methods for finding this consensus are very, very different. A new scientific theory can become the new doctrine if it measurably explains what we perceive in the world around us better than the old one. This is how Einstein’s theory of relativity replaced Newton’s mechanics. But just saying that there is some creator outside the world we can perceive who can do whatever at his bidding does not explain anything and definitely not in a measurable way. Also, science does not replace doctrines based on plausibility (otherwise quantum mechanics would never have taken off.) The concept, for example, of Specified Complexity in “Intelligent Design”, however, does. When Mr. Dembski says that certain things on Earth are so complex they could not possibly have evolved through chance and a pressure towards efficiency, it makes me want to shake him and yell at him “WHY NOT?” What he is really saying is that he does not think it is plausible, in other words: He does not believe it! But though belief is free as a bird, it is not the domain of science.

Now if you do some research on “Intelligent Design”, it is quite apparent that the scientific community has little problem with debunking any claim it makes on using a scientific methodology. Also, the people working in that so-called Discovery Institute are certainly, without any doubt, too intelligent to not understand that. What is more, they have proven their intelligence by singling out the tender spots in evolution theory with a very sure mark (even if the alternatives they offer aren’t any better than what the intend to replace.) Considering that, one can only come to the conclusion that they are acting on purpose claiming that their approach is scientific when they know full well it is not.

What then is that purpose? What are, if you will, the intelligent designs behind “Intelligent Design”?

Well, the very tangible thing, of course, is to win back some ground on the curriculum of American schools. Since the decisive strike against Creationism in American schools was the decision that it does not conform with the constitutional separation between government and religion, giving Creationism a form that claims to be not religiously motivated at all could help coming in through the back door. I don’t think that is all, though. The more long term strategy (and it does not matter if you consider the wedge strategy documents genuine or not) is certainly the deception of the general public. This, to me, makes it a Scientology of another kind. Even a more sophisticated Scientology because it is not as easily discernible as a sect. When you meet people in the street who try to sell Ron L. Hubbard’s Dianetics to you, you can easily quicken your pace and mumble something about being in a hurry, because you know it’s those funny people from that sect and all you want from them is being left alone. With “Intelligent Design” that is more difficult because you’re facing people who claim to only want to engage in a scientific discourse with you.

Again: Everybody is free to believe what they want and I will give all the respect I can muster to deeply felt beliefs.

But if somebody consciously deceives me and the public at large only to serve his own purpose, personally I can say it is neither the kind of people or school of thought I want to have anything to do with. What is more, the clearly subversive element is so serious a threat to our western way of life (at least as serious as any other religious fundamentalism) that I keep wondering when the President will start sending in the Marines. I expect it’s going to be up to us common people to stop them by speaking up, though.

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