Is “Intelligent Design” Science?

The short answer :  NO —  Intelligent Design is NOT science, it’s pseudoscience!

But wait! Haven’t you been touting Intelligent Design these past months,  and been bashing those such as the National Center for Science education (NCSE) and Professor Jerry Coyne? Have you now seen the light and been cured of the god virus and now side with “real” science?

Well not exactly … let me explain.

Thinking “inside the box.”

The meaning of words matter. For example in the case of Bill Clinton:

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”

And in the case of Barack Obama:

“We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”

So Mr. Obama has a different definition of “.period” than many of the rest of us, and has foisted that definition on the American people some 23 times in unequivocal terms, and Mr. Clinton has a different definition of “is” than many of the rest of us.

Likewise, the definition of the natural world by the folks at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and the atheist Professor Jerry Coyne among many others is the definition that drives their approach to science and the education of science:

the idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world; the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.

This is called naturalism.

Humor me for a moment as I picture the universe as a box rather than the sphere we so commonly picture.

What the naturalist has done is to deliberately choose to see the box exclusively from the inside. The naturalist has deliberately and purposely chosen the atheist world view.  This is nothing new, people have been making this choice for centuries. What perhaps is new, and especially since Darwin, is the cloak of “science” that covers this world view. As Richard Dawkins has said, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

I find this naturalistic view to be irrational. No person alive today, or at any point in human history can make the claim of naturalism as truth … for to make that claim you would have to be able somehow, to view everything … in other words you would have to have a view of the universe from beyond space and time.

So when you hear or read that intelligent design or creationism is not science … and worse characterizations than that … understand that those saying that are looking at the box from the inside.

They are thinking inside the box.

Thinking “outside the box.”

Those thinking outside the box  see the same box as those who see the box only from the inside. The difference being that outside the box thinkers allow that there there may be a reality beyond the box that is in some fashion or another responsible for the box itself. In the case of creationists, that reality is the God of the Bible as written in Genisis1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth … ” and in John 1:1- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made … “

The world view captured in the above verses and elsewhere in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible capture a world view of  a creator beyond time and space.

(Please note that I am speaking here of the Judeo/Christian view of creation. I do not and will not defend the creation stories that have been prevalent in virtually all cultures and religions throughout history up to the present day.)

The proponents of “Intelligent Design” define it to be as follows:

Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

So Intelligent Design advocates subscribe to a thinking outside the box type of science, but do not rely on any scriptural basis for scientific inquiry.

Thinking outside the box allows you to treat what materialists would call “apparent” or “illusory” designs as actual designs. For example, the organs in your own body such as the eye, brain, kidney … your entire body itself can be studied as a tightly integrated whole … as a system of systems beginning at the cellular/DNA level on up to the complete body plan. 

And thinking outside the box in no way constrains science from exploring and studying natural things. On the contrary, recognizing that much of biological nature consists of machines doing purposeful work gives insight on how those machines can be exploited; for example in medical breakthroughs and design improvements in man-made machines and systems. In fact, Intelligent Designs in Nature Make Engineers Envious.

And look at how the Next-Generation Audio Processors Will Mimic the Human Brain; a recognition that the brain can be studied as a machine, a system and a system of systems.

Then there is the story of researchers examining the implementation of a design in the fin of a fish which achieves what has been thought of as an engineering impossibility. I doubt the researchers spent a great deal of time and energy worrying over the evolution of that fin … did they just put their nose down and tail up and  start work on understanding the design.

Then how about this story of the how the Honeybee Teaches Engineers How to Land a Robot.

So is Darwinian Evolution “Indispensable” to Biology? read what one researcher has to say:

[T]he modern form of Darwin’s theory has been raised to its present high status because it’s said to be the cornerstone of modern experimental biology. But is that correct? “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas,” A.S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, wrote in 2000. “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”

I would tend to agree. Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.

I also examined the outstanding biodiscoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.

Looking at the outside of the box

Bear with me one more time in looking at the universe as a box … I know it’s not, but is serves a useful illustrative purpose … a metaphor if you will.

If your view is entirely from inside the box you will not be able to see the outside of the box – and after all, do not boxes have an inside and an  outside?

And what sorts  of things do we often see on the outside of boxes? Information … messages … contents … ribbons & bows … who manufactured the box …

From outside the box you might read who the sender of the box is and where he/she resides. You might read of the intended recipient of the box and its contents.  You might read the contents of the box  … all sorts of things appear on the outside of boxes.

But you’ll never know unless you look at the outside of the box!

I’ve run across several recently whose thinking and writing convey what can be gleaned from a recognition that there is an outside to the box, and indeed a glimpse at who might have made the box. Start with Michael Egnor: “We Had the Experience but Missed the Meaning.”

And don’t forget to follow the thread to Roger Kimball’s piece What Philistinism Looks Like where he highlights the thinking of folks like Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA, but very much one who limits his thinking to that which is inside the box:

You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.

Simon continues:

The problem is that we do not, cannot, inhabit the abstract world that science describes. Reason allows us to distinguish between appearance and reality; but our human reality turns out to be rooted firmly in the realm of appearance. “This worry is not just philosophical,” Scruton observes,

it is also spiritual. The meaning of the world is enshrined in conceptions that science does not recognize: conceptions like beauty, goodness and the soul which grow in the thin top-soil of human discourse. This top-soil is quickly eroded when the flora are cleared from it, and nothing ever grows thereafter. You can see the process at work in the matter of sex. Human sexuality has usually been understood through ideas of love and belonging. … The sexologist clears all this tangled undergrowth away, to reveal the scientific truth of things: the animal organs, the unmoralized impulses, and the tingling sensations. … The meaning of the experience plays no part in the scientific description.

The meaning of the experience plays no part in the scientific description.

So is ‘intelligent design” scientific? If by that question you mean by the criteria of materialism; “the idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world; the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.” then the answer is no, ID is not scientific. But I, and many others, say that the materialistic basis is severely and fundamentally flawed and in fact very much incomplete. Materialism is a moth eaten cloak being used as a wedge to drive faith out of the public square to be replaced by atheism, and a state sanctioned atheism to boot.

The picture of state sponsored atheism is not pretty … 100,000,000+ deaths at the hands of the atheists of the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia , Cuba, and the recent reports;  North Korea publicly executes 80, some for videos or Bibles. This is why I speak out on this issue!

What say you?

Don Johnson – November 2013



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