Montana Flirts with (Un)Intelligent Design

The Montana state legislature has two bills that look at the issue of evolution.

Sen. Ken Toole, D-Helena, is sponsoring a resolution reaffirming the state’s commitment to separation of church and state and to teaching valid scientific principles, which in his mind rules out creationism.

On the other side, Rep. Roger Koopman, R-Bozeman, has introduced a bill that would give schools more leeway to teach “intelligent design” in science classrooms.

In an e-mail response to a request for an interview, Koopman said that few people realize that the scientific evidence disputing evolution is just as strong as the evidence supporting it.

Good grief. It is always disappointing to see people saying that Intelligent Design (ID) is scientific evidence. What ID experiments have been done? What ID articles have been published (besides the one review article that the journal’s editorial staff disowned as not meeting the journals scientific standards)? Other than a bucket full of negative arguments what evidence has ID come up with to suggest that evolution should be displaced with the new “theory”: God Did It? Kindly post a link in the comments.

“The only time religious bias becomes a factor is when people try to ban scientific data that supports intelligent design, because they insist that only an atheistic model of origins should be taught,” he wrote.

Well we can see that State Representative Roger Koopman is either a blithering moron or an outright liar. Teaching evolution says nothing about the existence of God. There is, for example the deist view of the universe.

Critics contend that intelligent design is nothing more than creationism in disguise, something its proponents deny. They say that intelligent design, unlike Biblical-based creationism, doesn’t say who or what the intelligent designer is and therefore isn’t religion.

Uhhhmmm no. It isn’t just that it is a thinly veiled attempt to smuggle in Creationism into public school science curriculums, but that ID isn’t science. ID is nothing more than a grab bag of negative arguments against evolution. Granted it is a well put together grab bag, but a grab bag none-the-less. There is nothing positive from ID. And by positive I mean a prediction. Suppose we formulate a hypothesis about some observed phenomenon. From this hypothesis we’d derive predictions about events that have already happened (and we have yet to examine) or events that will happen. Does ID do this? Not. At. All. In fact, one of ID’s most cherished examples, the bacterial flagellum, has been shown to not be an example of irreducible complexity with research into Type III Secretory System (by the way, IIRC Kenneth Miller both believes in God and evolution). And let us not forget that if we had accepted ID we’d be sitting around thinking that the flagellum could not have evolved as it now looks like. We’d have stopped and wallowed in ignorance…which is precisely what ID fosters, ignorance and mental laziness.

Also, lets consider this: ID is actually very, very young. Typically real science takes years even decades of research with experiments, verification, and so forth establishing that a new idea is indeed worthy of futher consideration. ID proponents don’t want to do that. Instead of heading of to the laboratory to verify their conjectures they run to the courts and political system. It should give one pause to wonder: Why aren’t these bozos in the lab doing work? And if they are in the lab doing work, why are they in such a hurry to get this stuff put into public school curriculums? Could it be their lab work so far tells them that they are full of crap? Just a thought.

FILED UNDER: Education, US Politics
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. The Doctor says:

    There are certainly problems with ID when taken to extremes. However, for many, ID is simply a belief that the origin of life is from a creator, not from a big bang or some other randon event. Life as we know it then “evolved” from the creators original creation. These theories are certainly not mutually exclusive.

    Evolution has not really given us all the answers. There has not been one single experiment where completely inanimate objects such as proteins, chemicals or gasses were put into a test tube and life appeared. We certainly have seen bacterial forms of evolution – as a doctor I fight new resistant bacteria each day. But the bacteria did not just appear out of nowhere.

    I’m not sure why, but in my opinion, there is a mutual disdain between many religious ID proponents and the academic evolutionists. In time, we may find that they really don’t have much do disagree about.

  2. Steve says:

    Doctor,

    Evolution has not really given us all the answers. There has not been one single experiment where completely inanimate objects such as proteins, chemicals or gasses were put into a test tube and life appeared.

    This is not what evolution deals with. Evolution deals with the change in lifeforms over time (at a genetic level). Your problem above deals with the origin of life (vs. the origin of species–i.e., diversity). The origin of life from non-life, abiogensis, is indeed an area with little evidence supporting it, but there is even less for God Did It.

    Still even if God created the first simple life forms then evolution could still be the mechanism through which life changed and diversified. Hey for all we know, God is simply enjoying the show.

  3. Bithead says:

    Personally, I’ve never understood the conflict.
    God making a universe WOULD make a rather big bang, don’t you think?

  4. The Doctor says:

    Steve-
    I agree that the terms ID and evolution are used wrong frequently, and I did it here, but they have become general terms for theories involving a creator and those which do not, respectively.

    I guess the real problem here is that ID is more of a philosphy, while evolution is a theory. Many of the ID supporters I have read just can’t accept the complete randomness of the evolution theory. That is to say, at it’s root is a random genetic mutation which leads to a phenotype which gives some species or subspecies a particular advantage. When looking for the meaning of life (or the “why are we here?” question), random events just don’t sit very well.

  5. anjin-san says:

    Why can’t evolution be a part of God’s plan? Our trying to really grasp God’s intention is a bit like trying to explain string theory to my cat.

  6. Boyd says:

    The Pilot and I seldom agree, but the above comment is why I can’t say we never agree.

    ID is based on faith, since by its very nature is devoid of facts. Evolution is science, and they each fill a niche completely unoccupied by the other.

    I’ve long believed that God established the various laws of Nature. He designed gravity, the speed of light and everything on which they are based.

    These views are complementary, not contending.

  7. Steve says:

    Anjin-san,

    I don’t know if your comments were directed towards me or not, but the gist of your comments was precisely what I was trying to indicate with my comment about deism and God enjoying the show.

    Thunderbird,

    You’re right no stary or stories of an evolver. There are not myths about atoms either…so I guess we can toss out that junk science too. Thank goodness, I never liked physics much anyways.

  8. Clyde says:

    Doctor, et. al. – be careful of the word ‘random.’ It’s typically used on both a micro scale (mutation), and a macro scale (evolution). On a macro scale, it’s just wrong – mathematically it’s straightforward to show how small random events, combined with selection, can lead to a non-random outcome. Even on the micro scale, there’s a lot less randomness than you might think. Mutation is only one of many possible genetic ‘operators’, and it turns out to be pretty rare. Among diploid species crossover is a much more common event, and John Holland’s Schema Theorem (1975) shows how it can quickly drive adaptation. Holland only addresses mutation and crossover, but there are probably many more genetic operators at work. Bottom line: the mathematics of genetics is still *very* young, but even in this infant stage it relegates randomness to a rather small role.

  9. Bithead says:

    To the contrary; ID s based on logic. At no point does the concept of ID identify any god concept. Rather it simply makes the conclusion that what we see is the reult of some higher intelligence, and power than we have at our disposal.

    To argue fully against ID, one must assume;

    1: all this stuff just fell together on it’s own… a highly unlikely prospect.

    2: There is nobody more powerful or smarter than we puny humans… another highly unlikely prospect.

  10. Steve says:

    To the contrary; ID s based on logic. At no point does the concept of ID identify any god concept. Rather it simply makes the conclusion that what we see is the reult of some higher intelligence, and power than we have at our disposal.

    While literally true it is highly misleading. There is no serious propoent of ID that is not a believer in God. The ID movement is part of the wedge strategy where the ultimate aim is to destroy natural materialism and evolutionary theory and replace it with Creationism.

    1: all this stuff just fell together on it’s own… a highly unlikely prospect.

    Strawman. This is like Dembski’s completely debunked probability calculations that rely on things like the flagellum assembling in toto by dumb luck. There is nothing that says that is how it happened save in the minds of ID proponents.

    2: There is nobody more powerful or smarter than we puny humans… another highly unlikely prospect.

    Again, a strawman. Evolutionary theory says literally nothing about the existence of a supreme being or aliens. This is a favorite trick of the creationists to paint their opponents as atheists.

  11. Lee says:

    Gentlemen,

    There is an excellent book out that discusses this topic that you may find interesting. A great read and fully looks at why ID is and will be the new wave for scientific study in the future.

    Evolution is becoming, literally, extinct all on its own as more and more study, research, and take a close look at the facts involved without preconceived and biased notions. It leaves a lot of huge questions totally unanswered, where ID fits far more realistically and intelligently.

    If you are really willing to consider rocking your own personal prejudice, take a serious look at and read: “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist,” by Geisler and Turek.