Fake ID

I’ve been reading a lot recently about the controversy regarding evolution and intelligent design:  The recent TNR cover story, the NPR essays, and the current NY Times series.  I’ve also been working my way through the book Guns, Germs, and Steel for the past few months.
 
I could write volumes on this topic, as I feel quite strongly about it, but I’ll restrain myself to the following relatively mild sentiments.  The first is that when we’re fretting about our global competitiveness and the flaws in our educational system, specifically in the sciences, attempts to introduce material into science curricula that doesn’t meet recognized standards of scientific proof, especially at the expense of material that does, seems, well, backward.
 
Second, the purpose of scientific research is to gain a better understanding of how the world works, not to justify any particular preconceived conclusion.  In the hypothetical scenario that evolution or natural selection were proven false, it would be a victory for science, because it would mean the existence of a better model for understanding nature.  I cannot imagine the same thing being said for intelligent design, which seems to be all about using science (or scientific-sounding propaganda, depending upon your point of view) to justify a specific view of how life and human life in particular is created.
 
Finally, let’s be intellectually honest with the semantics.  Calling evolution a "theory" doesn’t mean that it’s unproven.  It’s proven by the same methods that let us find cures for polio and build nuclear weapons.
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4 responses to “Fake ID

  1. And, of course, gravity is just a theory…

  2. My major issue with all the press coverage of ID right now is that it\’s one-sided and not at all complete, but that statement could be applied equally to any topic. I\’ve actually read up on intelligent design and find it intriguing from a philosophical standpoint. The popular books and media will always get most information wrong – there are too many levels of detail in any topic for it to be accurately and fairly summarized into 10-40 second soundbites, or 6 word headlines. The people doing the philosophy of ID are looking for intellectual/philosophical answers and most of the honest ones will admit that it still doesn\’t speak to the mechanism of "making". While I find evolutionary theory to be full of holes and therefore untenable, I still think it needs to be taught in schools – even if it\’s just as history – because it\’s important to know where ideas and movements come from and what they are really trying to say. Schools do a bad job of teaching evolutionary theory now – students learn an even more garbled version than the media and the hyper-right put out. Dismissing something because it\’s a fad is weak – learn what the experts in that field are saying, not what\’s being parroted, and then make a judgement. And calling anything a theory IS saying it\’s unproven, or that it is unprovable. But it\’s unprovability doesn\’t undo the methodology of science – it enhances it. The methods just come to the conclusion that "we don\’t know enough now" to make a final judgment, and seeing as no one has yet created life form nothing, using any method (at least not that we know of!), they are all just theories and need to be kept that way.

  3. IN response to Ethan\’s comments…I\’ve spent some time looking at the underlying documentation of ID (or more accurately IC – Intelligent Creationism). It really isn\’t intriguing from a philosophical viewpoint. Actually many of the arguments/points are quite silly or if you prefer "reaching". Reading the documents tends to give me a good belly laugh.I would wonder if the holes you feel in evolution are simply holes in specific cases that have been called evolution (like the whole black moth / white moth debacle) or holes you feel are in various scientific creation theories versus evolution theories.I have found that many folks who really are gung ho over creationism and its various incarnations say evolution is wrong because of its pieces about the initial creation. Evolution doesn\’t speak to initial creation. It talks about the innate feedback loop in the birth/procreate/death cycle and really does seem pretty well proven out. It is just a bit difficult for beings with a max lifespan measured in years to comprehend/understand a process that could take thousands of times that. There is no statement to any intent nor the initial spark. joe"If your parents didn\’t have sex, odds are neither will you…"

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