Wednesday, 21 December 2005

A Victory for Science?

For a while now arguments have been taking place in the US regarding the teaching, in science classes, of so-called Intelligent Design (ID) as an alternative to the more usual Theory of Evolution (as first described by Charles Darwin.) Roughly speaking, ID can be summarized thus:
Intelligent design is the concept that "certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an intelligent cause or agent, as opposed to an unguided process such as natural selection."
I.e. this is a thinly veiled attempt of creating a science out of Creationism (the belief that all things were created by God as it is told in the Bible - some of the more prominent Creationists, such as Kent Hovind believe that the Bible is an exact representation of how it all happened.)
Now I don't have a problem with people believing in ID. Its not a idea that I personally adhere to (I suppose I'm an atheist at heart really) but I do have an objection to it being taught as a Science.
Science (from Latin scientia - knowledge) refers to a system of acquiring knowledge - based on empiricism, experimentation, and methodological naturalism - aimed at finding out the truth. The basic units of knowledge are theories, which is a hypothesis that is predictive.
ID is neither observable or repeatable. For that matter it is not testable either. Most of all it is not falsifiable (a theory cannot be scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown false.) In short, it does not adhere to any scientific standards. It is not a science and should not be taught in a Science class. By all means teach it in philosophy classes, or Theology classes. Where it belongs.
Having said all this, I was really pleased to read this today. I'm aware that the main group pushing ID are American Evangelical Protestants, but now this has been stopped in Pennsylvania, hopefully there will be no chance of these ideas gaining popularity on this side of the Atlantic.

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