Thursday, November 10, 2005

Intelligent Design

Is Intelligent Design a (bad) scientific theory that merits a place in science classrooms, or is it not science at all? Scientists and philosophers have long pondered what science truly is, and what differentiates a scientific theory from a non-scientific theory.

Uriah Kriegel turns to Karl Popper, the late philosopher of science, for an answer.
Popper concluded that the mark of true science was falsifiability: a theory is genuinely scientific only if it's possible in principle to refute it. This may sound paradoxical, since science is about seeking truth, not falsehood. But Popper showed that it was precisely the willingness to be proven false, the critical mindset of being open to the possibility that you're wrong, that makes for progress toward truth.
If we examine ID in this light, it becomes pretty clear that the theory isn't scientific. It is impossible to refute ID, because if an animal shows one characteristic, IDers can explain that the intelligent designer made it this way, and if the animal shows the opposite characteristic, IDers can explain with equal confidence that the designer made it that way. For that matter, it is fully consistent with ID that the supreme intelligence designed the world to evolve according to Darwin's laws of natural selection. Given this, there is no conceivable experiment that can prove ID false.
From this, we must conclude that while Intelligent Design may be a valid theory, deserving of research, analysis, and debate, it is not a scientific theory. It does not have a place in a science classroom.