Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Intelligent Design - part IV

The fundamental problem with ID is that it has no explanatory power whatsoever. Its proponents have made no attempt to specify the potential mechanisms of ID or to build a body of evidence to support the theory. Rather their strategy is to point to gaps in particular aspects of evolutionary theory, declare that this lack of knowledge means the entire modern synthesis must be thrown out, and then assume a false dichotomy which means that ID is the default theory to replace it.
The success that the movement has enjoyed can largely be attributed to widespread scientific illiteracy. To anyone familiar with biology or the natural sciences in general, the omissions and misrepresentations within ID material are apparent and easily refuted. In reality most people are not familiar with biology and the claims of ID seem at least as credible as evolution and maybe slightly more appealing ideologically.
A lot of people seem to feel that ID should be taught alongside evolution out of a sense of fairness and an obligation to tell 'both sides of the story'. Most laypeople are not aware that ID has been summarily rejected by the scientific community and that it has failed as a legitimate theory. After all, the ID movement has published many high-selling books, they have professional-looking websites – to deny them a place in mainstream science can appear elitist to those who have not been made aware of the vacuity of ID.
Intelligent Design does not prove Darwin wrong. If ID proves anything it is the importance of basic science education. A lot of scientists have tended to ignore ID as a baseless threat that is not worth taking seriously. Given the success the ID movement has had in winning over lay audiences, I feel this is a dangerous tactic. It is the responsibility of those of us within the scientific community to combat ID directly by ensuring that information about evolution is as accessible as possible and by vigilantly maintaining fundamental science education to its highest possible standard.

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