Speaking of Idiots

Morons of the Dover, Pennsylvania, variety were just issued a full-fledged rebuke in their efforts to install religion into the public school system.

And I think I’m going to have to go on record as condemning so-called “intelligent design.” I’ve been reluctant to do so to date, because frankly, I don’t have a problem with the belief that a creator (or creators) were behind the evolutionary process. I don’t personally believe that to be the case, but — because it’s strictly outside the realm of the observable and verifiable — neither do I disbelieve it.

I posted earlier about the fact that evidence for intelligence in design does not imply the existence of a creator, and that still holds. I also noted that as a theology (or perhaps a philosophy), the notion was perfectly worthy of discussion.

Were we to make the mistake of believing that merely acknowledging the possibility of such a creator is the crux of the ID movement, the whole thing might seem innocuous enough.

But now, I have to take a stand (just because I’ve come to a more explicit understanding of my own position). “Intelligent design” doesn’t just describe a general idea about a creative force being behind evolution — it describes a very specific, organized idea. One that explicitly avers that natural processes — and we’re not just talking about Darwin’s theories, but any natural processes — absolutely cannot ever explain the existence or complexity of life on Earth. In a nutshell, the entire ID argument is that the only possible explanation for the complexity of life is the existence of an omnipotent creator. No naturalistic explanation can ever suffice.

I’ll happily entertain the pointing out of holes in current evolutionary theory. After all, that’s how our understanding of the world — our model of how things work — develops over time. Unlike the ID folks, we of the more rational persuasion aren’t arrogant enough to claim that our models are perfect and unassailable. Insofar as ID proponents point out legitimate fallacies (as long as they’re not just making shit up, as they’ve been known to do), more power to ’em. But the official notion of “intelligent design” consists of, “No matter what you do, no matter what you observe, you cannot develop an explanation that ever satisfies us that God (since we all know that’s who it was) didn’t exercise his divine power to magically ‘poof’ new creatures into existence in direct contradiction of the laws of science.”

At the core, ID contends that the existence of life is scientifically impossible. Period. And — even from a purely logical perspective — I fail to see how an argument like that can ever be considered in the same breath as science.

Update: At first glance, it would appear that (barring reversal on appeal) this is the last nail in the coffin for ID (at least in terms of its being taught in public schools). But note this paragraph in the Post story (emphasis mine) for a hint as to the ID advocates’ next strategy:

A lawyer for the parents, Witold Walczak of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union, called intelligent design a “clever tactical repackaging of creationism” that cannot be science “unless science is redefined to include the supernatural.

Said redefinition having just occurred in Booger-Picking-Moron Central... I mean, Kansas. Stay tuned.


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