Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Age of Ignorance

You know I thought this was all settled way back in 1925. No, first Kansas and now Pennsylvania have become new battlegrounds for a battle that was supposed to have been over 80 years ago. (Did somebody forgot to tell the Creationists they lost?)
You would think in this brand new Internet Age with more information that we could possibly need at our fingertips, people (especially journalists) would be more informed. You would be wrong. Why, because with just a little digging, or a little Googling, you'd see that that all this fire and brimstone about Intelligent Design being a competing scientific theory to the Theory of Evolution is circumspect at best.
There are two points that, if people would bother to inform themselves about, would clarify why ID is not Evolution's equal and why it may never be. First, is the semantics of the term "theory." A scientific theory is result of thoroughly and rigorously testing a hypothesis and has the weight of other scientists scrutiny and testable results as facts and evidence to back it up. A theory, in common parlance, is unproven speculation. (Though a quick look at a dictionary, or, reveals that most of the definitions of theory relate to the scientific meaning.)
If you'll notice, most of the proponents of ID are very quick to use the latter meaning of theory when discussing the Theory of Evolution, and they cite gaps in the fossil record or some still unexplained aspects as proof that the Theory of Evolution is nothing more than unproven speculation.
Which is, frankly, bullshit. Starting with Darwin, the Theory of Evolution has been around for well over 100 years and has at least that many years of tests, experiments and evidence supporting it's basic premises and presumptions. I'm not a scientist, (but I play one on TV) but, I'm pretty sure that if after a century or more, if the Theory had flaws in it, it wouldn't have survived lo these many years. Science and medicine would certainly not be at the level it is today, if the Theory was fundamentally flawed.
Second, if you look at the theory of Intelligent Design, it's only a theory in the common sense, not in the scientific sense. Applying the scientific method to Intelligent Design has not yielded a positive consensus in the scientific community, mainly because ID is untestable. If you can't apply the scientific method to support your hypothesis, it can't become a scientific theory. That's one of the core principles of Science, and the way science and technology have changed the world in the past 100 years is testament to its soundness. Or if you like, a proven assumption to work from. Or how about: the scientific method works, that's a fact.
But proponents of ID just want to use the common usage of theory because on that level their argument works better. To use a legal analogy, (I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at Holiday Inn Express last night) it's like pursuing a civil case instead of a criminal case for murder. In a civil case the standards are lower, you just need a preponderance of evidence instead of proving beyond a resonable doubt. Though, IMNSHO, Evolution wins on both standards.
Unfortunately, I'm not on the jury in Dover, PA hearing this case, and if this poll is accurate, it might go either way and that's depressing to think about.
Anyway, I've rambled long enough on this, and I barely touched on the religious and political angles, Maybe next time.
In the meantime check out this link for more on the ID/Evolution "debate." And the Inquirer has been tracking the trial in Dover, PA, now in it's 3rd day, so check there too.


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