Tuesday, August 26, 2008

If Intelligent Design really were science...

Imagine the state of scientific endeavor if real science followed the same rules as Intelligent Design.

When Oersted observed a compass needle moving when the compass was placed near a current-carrying wire, he would have said, "How interesting! Our current understanding of nature can't explain that. A supernatural Directing Agent must be causing the compass needle to move. Since I can't ever know how the Directing Agent works, I guess there's no way for me to figure out why the compass needle is moving. I guess I'll go study something else."

When Rutherford observed alpha particles bouncing straight back from a sheet of gold foil (an event, to paraphrase him, as unexpected as if he had fired a bullet at a tissue and it had bounced), he would have said "Fascinating! Our current atomic model can't explain this. There must be a supernatural Directing Agent causing it. Maybe I'll move to Hawaii and retire."

When scientists first had enough data to see that most earthquakes and volcanoes occur in specific regions, rather than being scattered randomly over Earth's surface, they would have said, "Hmm...thermal contraction shouldn't produce patterns like those. They're much too complex. It must be a supernatural Directing Agent doing it. Well, I guess we can stop looking for another explanation now! Let's have a beer!" (They were, after all, geologists.)

When Mendel observed that pea plant characteristics don't always breed true, he would have said, "Goodness! That's unexpected. Our current understanding of of heredity can't explain that. Must be God's work. I guess I'll start eating spinach, instead."

Intelligent Design isn't just not science. It stifles inquiry. It's--dare I say it?--designed to keep people from asking questions.

And for the record, "God did it" is not a valid scientific explanation.

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