Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Now, this evening I attended the second session of a mini-class being offered at St. Luke's called "Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design". I'm going for mainly two reasons: (a) I want to see how this kind of a thing works in a parish setting, and (b) I've heard the phrase often enough but couldn't give you a definition of what everyone is talking about when they say "intelligent design", so I hope to learn that. Now, the class runs from 7:30-9:00pm. By 9pm I was so bored and frustrated; by my thinking, we hadn't even really broached the evening's proscribed topic of creationism and biblical views of creation. At 9pm, I'm tired and ready to go home, so they start talking about creationism. Then, a parishioner says the first interesting thing of the evening when he said, "Perhaps the only way for God to give us free will is for Him to hide His fingerprints, so to speak. Maybe if He didn't do that, there could be no possibility of free will." Now, that I had not heard before and consider serious food for thought. But, I couldn't think about it right then as I was getting fidgety. Luckily, someone gets up to leave cluing in the prof. that it is past time to go. He says, "Oh, yes, it must be getting on close to 9 now." I say, "In the morning." A few chuckles. Overall, I'm disappointed with the quality of this class. It seems if it was far more focused as it sounded like it would be from the outlines, it would be excellent. But so far, I haven't heard anything new or learned anything interesting about the current cultural debate from a more learned perspective. Maybe the next mini-course will be better - it's about the conflict in Israel/Palestine, something for which I have a little real energy.
And I cooked Campbell's canned soup tonight, still traumatized.
This is my take on the term "intelligent design". When thinking of how the universe was created, science can explain only certain things, typically limited to the "how". Intelligent design picks up where science left off, in that those things that cannot be explained by science - the rest of the "how" and all of the "why", are in the realm of an "intelligent designer".
IMO, "intelligent designer" = God, and it's a term being used to make it seem that ID is a scientific position, and not a religious one.
One of the major sources of confusion in the debate is a misunderstanding of what constitutes a scientific "theory".
To the layperson, "theory" is often equated with "hypothesis". However, in classical scientific method, you start with a hypothesis (how things might work) and find that it is supported by experimental/emprical evidence. This support is what gives the hypothesis the standing of a theory. While theories are not proven, they do explain how the world appears to work.
Using this definition, natural selection (one component of evolution) is a well-supported theory. Macroevolution (the advent of new species) due to microevolution (small changes) is also a theory, but not as well-supported.
Intelligent design, on the other hand, is a hypothesis, as yet unsupported by empirical/experimental evidence. That is not to say that it is false, only that from the standpoint of the scientific method, it is unsupported. As such, the intelligent design hypothesis does not have the same standing as evolutionary theory.
At the Dover, PA trial, Michael Behe, one of the proponents of ID, was made to admit that using the traditional definitions of scientific method, evolution is a theory, while ID is, at this point, just a hypothesis.
You can probably tell that this is written by someone on the science side of this debate. But I think I'm at least somewhat informed as to the religious positions in this debate.
Does this help?
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Er...messed up my HTML tags in the previous post...
Here's another fairly good take on it (and from one of the best webcomics on the internet, at that...I think ya'd enjoy it).
I'll admit I haven't made an in-depth study of intelligent design, but a relatively quick scanning of the major tenets was kinda interesting (though there are some fairly evident flaws in them). Almost as interesting was looking at who the major backers for intelligent design were. I wonder how the reaction of the scientific community would have changed had the theory been originally espoused by a non-Christion or atheistic scientific group.
So what did you talk about for an hour and a half, if it ("Creation, Evolution, and ID") wasn't the topic of the class?