by Barry Newton
Will Ben Stein’s film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” succeed in raising questions of angst among the entrenched voices of “Big Science?” From the spigot of Wikipedia gush sources revealing the standard reaction by dissenters to Intelligent Design. The customary party line mantra can be represented by:
“…intelligent design meets none of the tests of a scientific theory and is simply an updated version of century-old creationist arguments. At a time when the United States faces serious economic challenges, we cannot risk derailing efforts to provide the best possible science education for the next generation of problem solvers.”/1
“The fundamental problem with intelligent design as science is that intelligent design claims cannot be tested. … Untestable claims are not scientific claims.”/2
“Scientific theories do not include God because scientific theories must be tested. Testing requires holding constant some variables, and no one can “control” God; therefore, scientific explanations are restricted to the natural causes that are testable.”/3
Such quotes expose the crux of this divide actually revolves, not upon the evidence, but around the philosophical question, “What is science?” Furthermore, those making such pronouncements seem to be oblivious to the repercussions for evolution.
First, what is science? If the scientific establishment wishes to limit science to only discovering naturalistic explanations, regardless of what might have actually transpired in the past, not only is Intelligent Design excluded from being scientific but the public should be educated to realize that scientists are committed to promoting a naturalistic ideology regarding human origins in spite of where the evidence might actually point.
On the other hand, I suspect the commonsense answer most people would offer will equate science with discovering what is true now, and at least what is likely true about our past. If an Intelligent Designer actually did create life and if such an Architect left behind evidence, such as objects which could not have arisen naturalistically, then Intelligent Design would certainly fall into the realm of offering scientific explanations. Accordingly, the hypothesis of an Intelligent Designer would be just as tentative and scientific, as other scientific theories grappling with the evidence to interpret the past.
Evolutionists can not have it both ways. Either they own all of the scientific answers, but such conclusions are simply the output of a narrowly-focused ideology in spite of whatever contrary evidence might exist, or science examines the feasibility and probability of all theories in light of the evidence.
Second, and perhaps even more significant are the repercussions of their scientific definition for evolution. Lurking in the shadows of the preceding evolutionists’ quotes lies an untamed razor prepared to cut through the smoke and mirrors to discredit evolution as a legitimate science. If science is determined by what can be tested which involves verifying and falsifying theories, then consider what even evolutionist and Harvard professor emeritus Ernst Mayer conceded regarding evolution’s inability to withstand the same rigorous testing standards as the physical sciences as he wrote about the history of the philosophy of science.
“Popper … insisted that falsification was the only way to finally eliminate an invalid theory. If the theory fails a test, it has been falsified. … (Mayr then comments: Falsification) is particularly ill-suited for the testing of probabilistic theories, which include most theories in biology. The occurrence of exceptions to a probabilistic theory does not necessarily constitute falsification. And in fields such as evolutionary biology, in which historical narratives must be constructed to explain certain observations, it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to decisively falsify an invalid theory. The categorical statement that a single falsification requires the abandonment of a theory might be true for theories based on the universal laws of the physical sciences, but is often not true for theories in evolutionary biology.”/4
In plain English, testing the feasibility of a story that claims to be historical is categorically different than directly testing a theory to discover what works or does not work. The story itself cannot be tested. Potential mechanisms can be tested. The story can only be indirectly evaluated based upon interpreting favorable evidence to suggest feasibility.
For example, how does someone conduct a scientific experiment to test if Washington or perhaps Napoleon may have crossed the Delaware? Even if an experiment is performed today proving a person can cross the Delaware (the mechanism) or even if one species can be shown to mutate into another, would such experiments prove that Washington or perhaps Napoleon crossed the Delaware or that macro-evolution occurred in our past? No. They remain probablistic stories about what is feasible. Feasibility does not constitute recounting history. The nature and conclusions of the physical sciences are of a different order than either evolutionary or intelligent design stories.
If evolutionists choose to limit all scientific theoretical stories a priori to naturalistic explanations, then they have been exposed indeed. For if science is to be a bigoted bully somehow permitting indirect “testing” of naturalistic stories and interpreting physical evidence to support them while denying similar “testing” of Intelligent Design stories and discrediting its favorable physical evidence, then certainly no intelligence is being allowed into the classroom.
The fury is over philosophical definitions and assumptions, not the laboratory. The storm engulfing intelligent design is not about what evidence actually exists; it is all about ideology. The focus should be with a courageousness to face the evidence, wherever it might point.
1/American Association for the Advancement of Science www.aaas.org/news/releases/2008/media/0418aaas_statement.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-05-16
2/The National Center for Science Education www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/id. Retrieved on 2008-05-16
3/The National Center for Science Education www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/evolution. Retrieved on 2008-05-16
4/Ernst Mayer, This is Biology: The Science of the Living World, (1997), pp. 49-50