Thursday, September 4, 2008

Even if...

There is a great deal written out there about the problems with Intelligent Design's "arguments" that supposedly "refute" the theory of evolution. I won't go into them here (although I may in the future), but suffice it to say, they pretty much all fall into one or more of the following categories:
  • misinterpretation (either deliberate or out of ignorance) of legitimate scientific data;
  • quotes and/or data taken completely out of context and tortured into implying something other than what they actually imply;
  • self-contradictions (or contradictions of other arguments made by the same person or organization);
  • fallacies of logic;
  • applications of valid scientific theory and/or concepts to things they have no business being applied to; and
  • outright lies.
However, as a thought experiment, suppose for a moment that every single argument made by Intelligent Design proponents were completely scientifically accurate. Suppose, if you will, that the theory of evolution really were as full of holes and problems as they'd like us to believe.

Even if that were true...Intelligent Design STILL would not be a valid scientific theory, and it STILL would not belong in science classrooms.

One point that I don't think is made often enough in the "debate" between Intelligent Design proponents and real scientists is this: proving one theory false is not equivalent to proving another theory true. (Not that you can prove a theory. But you know what I mean.)

They'd like us to believe that, if they can "prove" that the theory of evolution is invalid, scientists will magically just accept Intelligent Design. Allow me to use an analogy to illustrate how silly this argument is.

Imagine a really big party. Hundreds of people in a really big room, all milling around. Suddenly, a gunshot rings out, and someone falls down dead. Further suppose that there are security cameras in this room that catch the whole thing on tape. You can see the shooter's face--can even see the color of her eyes. What's more, there are 15 eyewitnesses that claim to have seen her shoot the victim. The gun has her fingerprints on it and is ballistically matched to the bullet in the victim. There is gunpowder residue all over her hands. And, she has a motive.

In court, the defense tries to get the shooter off by arguing against the validity of all of the evidence. Then, in the closing statement, the defense council says the following:
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the evidence clearly does not show that my client shot the victim. Therefore, it must have been the doorman who shot the victim."

How likely do you think it is that the jury would convict the doorman, just because it couldn't possibly have been the defendant who shot the victim?

Disproof of one theory does not equal proof of another theory. A scientific theory is based on evidence. If there's no evidence to support it--and especially if there's no possible way to collect evidence to support it--then it cannot be a valid scientific theory!

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