Friday, April 3, 2009

Dishonest by Design

There are many good reasons to reject Intelligent Design Theory. First of all, it doesn’t even deserve the name “theory” because it isn’t one. Unlike real scientific theories, Intelligent Design offers no mechanism, makes no predictions and cannot be falsified. Now that’s a good enough reason right there to fully reject it and all attempts to put it in the classroom. However, up to this day that has not been enough to discourage ID proponents who continue to insist that saying “Golly gee, that sure looks complicated!” is the same as doing science. There is however an even better reason to reject it, namely the fact that Intelligent Design requires massive dishonesty.

While I may completely disagree with Creationism, at least I can respect Creationists for being honest about what they stand for. Kent Hovind and friends may have their faults but at least they are not going pretend that they don’t believe the universe to be 6000 years old. In fact they tend to be completely upfront about the fact that they believe everything in existence was created in its present form in 6 days around 4000 BC and that humans and dinosaurs co-existed. Not so with the ID crowd. Most of them believe exactly the same thing, but they pretend that they don’t. Here is a great example:

Notice how that lady steadfastly avoided every question about what exactly she believes? This is what all ID proponents have to do. They have to pretend that ID is not religious, they have to pretend that they don’t really think the “designer” is necessarily God and most of all they have to pretend that they aren’t really Creationists. How can any Christian follow something that requires so much willful deceit? What happened to not being ashamed of the Gospel? What happened to always being prepared to give an answer for the hope in you? When did it become OK for the disciples of Jesus to deny Him in public?

Seems to me that Intelligent Design forces its supporters to act less like Disciples of Christ and more like followers of L Ron Hubbard! Hiding the truth about what your faith stands for (until you reach the right level/are brainwashed enough not to question it) is something Scientology is supposed to do. They lure you in with promises of mental health and only tell you the crazy story about Xenu later. Christians on the other hand have always been completely upfront about what they believe. You may think us silly but we will tell you about everything from the virgin birth to the resurrection and all the miracles in between right on day one so that you can make a completely informed decision about what you are letting yourself in for. At least that’s what we used to do in the days before Intelligent Design…

Some may disagree with me and claim that in this case the end justifies the means. Again I have to disagree. Intelligent Design is the worst thing to happen to Christian Evangelism since the Crusades! Has anyone actually thought this through? For ID to actually work 3 things need to happen:

1 – Scientists have to stop doing science, cease looking for explanations and mechanisms and simply accept that certain features were somehow designed by "someone" or "something". This alone would take a miracle on the level of the parting of the Red Sea.

2 – The identity of this designer must then be debated until Scientists are willing to completely abandon the Scientific method and simply accept that the designer was a supernatural being.

3 – Lastly, once everyone can finally agree that the designer was God the debate would then have to start regarding which God? Yahweh? Allah? Vishnu? Odin?

Only when all 3 of these issues have been conclusively settled would Intelligent Design have any claim to effective evangelism. Honestly, how many decades do you think that will take? Is it really worth compromising so much for a strategy that has so virtually no chance of ever working and if it ever did would probably take over a century?

I think not.


digapigmy said...

i think i would caution you to define terms the way someone clearly biased to one side of the argument would.

for instance - i am "creationist" in the purest sense of the word. i believe God created the universe. i do not believe that the world is 6, 8, or 10,000 years old. there are few things that are barriers to reasonable conversation more than one party assuming they know what the other person thinks and believes.

oddly enough, "creationists" as you use the term must necessarily also believe in extremely rapid evolution by necessity to explain away their universal flood belief in conjunction with the size of the ark.

many "scientists" reach conclusions and spew venom that is not scientific. any reasonable scientist would be able to understand nothing science will ever do can prove the non-existence of God. such an exercise would be futile as it is next to impossible to prove non-existence and "God" is not clearly defined either. it is important to differentiate between the scientific conclusions of scientists and the metaphysical claims of folks like richard dawkins. (oddly enough, he and behe have the same odd tendency to equate improbability with certain impossibility)

the average rational "religious" person would be fairly happy with a simple admission that despite claims to the contrary, scientists have not produced any evidence against God's existence and would be pleased if overly aggressive teachers would simply allow students to draw their own conclusions instead of having the meaning of scientific research interpreted for them by strident athiests.

man, i love this topic. it's right up there with vaccinations and scott stapp.

Eugene said...

Well Diga, as I explained in a while ago in this post I too am a "creationist" in the purest sense of the word since I still believe that it was God that created the universe. However I will not use the word creationist to describe myself any more than I would say "I feel gay" when I mean "I feel happy" because even though I would be correct in the purist sense of the word, that is not how people understand that word anymore. The way I see it the same applies to the term "Creationist" - while it may in fact only refer to the belief that God is ultimately responsible for the existence of the universe, these days it rather implies you agree with Hovind, Ham and Gish that the earth is young, scientists are liars, dinos walked with man and Noah's flood covered the entire globe. That's just how the term is understood these days.

I completely agree that it is important to differentiate between the scientific conclusions of scientists and the metaphysical claims of some. That is exactly why I don't think ID belongs in the classroom - and neither does atheism. Science class is for teaching science and should stick to the side with the facts and the evidence. Until ID proponents come up with those they shouldn't get to take a shortcut into the textbooks. It is everyone's right and privilege to believe whatever they want privately but we should teach evolution and not ID for the same reason we teach that viruses and bacteria cause disease instead of teaching kids that disease is caused by demons/sin/punishment from God. Science is about studying the natural world and as such has no place making statements for or against God and the supernatural. I agree that teachers shouldn't be pushing atheism. My only point was that they shouldn't be dishonestly peddling creationism either.

digapigmy said...

so are you saying you're a gay creationist or not? i think the people want to know.

in the end, i think both sides of the argument have a serious pr problem because their spokespeople are irrational and probably don't even represent the beliefs of the majority of their "side" (e.g. hovind and behe or richard dawkins). couple with that the tendency these representatives have to misrepresent the statements and beliefs of the others while masking their true intentions makes for a mess for all the rational people on either "side" of the issue.

and i don't really take issue with what you say other than it seems that "scientists" get a free pass from the thinking crowd. there was a chapter in my high school biology text that began with a header that said "Evolved,not Created." That is no more scientific than if the chapter started off with "Too Complicated to Happen by Chance." that's all i'm really getting at with this rambling response.

Eugene said...

Yes, I have to agree with you there. The evolution debate has degenerated into a fight and as is typical in a fight, people have stopped attempting to be reasonable. Most of the current "debate" is just centered around being as condescending as possible and making the opposing side look as stupid as possible, even to the point of adjusting the facts in your favour. Doctors Dawkins and Meyers are not going to get creationists to even listen to their points as long as they are so militantly atheist and insinuate all believers are brainless rubes. Likewise with the Creationists pretending that Christianity has always been perfect while science leads to killing people (in the immortal words of Ben Stein).

Both science and religion has done a lot of good and a lot of bad. Denying that is denying reality.

Eugene said...

I have personally experienced just how detrimental to learning all this mudslinging is. I used to be a Young Earth Creationist and I believed what I did because I honestly thought I had the all the information I needed. It was only when I stopped listening to what scientists were supposedly saying via Young Earth Creationist propaganda and actually started reading up on what scientists were actually saying that the true facts of the matter started to dawn on me and I accepted Evolution. It was a pretty arduous journey of discovery and it was severely hampered by the evolution = atheism rhetoric on both sides. I had to wade through a lot of distorted facts and bad quotemines to actually get to a place where I could grasp evolution and science for what it was really saying.

It seems the "debate" does more to cloud the issue than to illuminate it - at least that was my experience.

Plucky said...

I like pizza, Steve . . .

GumbyTheCat said...

Preach it, Brother Eugene!

Hope you are well.