Intelligent Design is Dead!

If you believe in evolution, you have no morals!

I was researching creationism on the web and came across an article titled “Intelligent Design is Dead!” in the Vassar Alumnae Quarterly. It’s written by Vassar Professor of Biology Mark Schlessman. Here’s an extremely abbreviated version of the article:

[Y]ou don’t need extensive background to understand why, scientifically, intelligent design is dead. Significant and lasting scientific theories have two major parts. Biologist and college textbook author Scott Freeman calls them the pattern and process components. Pattern components summarize broad sets of observations about nature, and process components describe natural mechanisms that can account for the observations.

Evolution, the pattern component of Darwin’s theory, is a solid scientific fact. Natural selection is Darwin’s original process component.

Scientific theories also allow us to make testable predictions. Indeed, as new observations and experimental results that are consistent with their predictions accumulate, scientific ideas that start as hypotheses mature into theories.

Lastly, a scientific theory, no matter how well established, is subject to falsification. Good scientists should be able to imagine the kinds of evidence that would falsify a theory, or at the very least force a re-evaluation of its explanatory power.

In fact, that last paragraph is very important. We’ll come back to it in just a moment.

The creationists’ ultimate goal is to convert people to Christianity and to restructure society’s laws to parallel Biblical law. To accomplish this, they have a two-pronged approach. The first prong is to disprove evolution. The second prong is to convince people that ID creationism is a viable alternative of strong scientific validity.

In fact, they would be happy to just disprove evolution. If they can accomplish that, they don’t care much whether anybody believes in ID creationism. All that really matters is the end goal of more converts and a restructured society.

As long as real science has a theory that does not require God’s intervention, then they have a major barrier to accomplishing their ultimate goal. They must remove that barrier.

One of the many claims creationists make against the theory of evolution is that it can’t be falsified. That’s a ludicrous charge. Evolution is the core principle of biology. Everything else flows from it. Therefore, evolution is part of every testable claim in the life sciences. For example, long before the tools of modern genetics were developed, taxonomists had determined which species were closely related to each other. Along comes genetics. Evolutionary theory predicted that closely related species would share a lot of genetic material, while more distantly related species would share less. Scientists ran the tests, and the predictions were validated. That’s just one case where evolution could have been falsified. This is repeated constantly throughout the sciences. The results sometimes cause a fine tuning of existing theory, but nowhere have they invalidated major components of the theory. Evolution is being subjected to falsification tests every single day.

Now let’s return to the article and see why Schlessman says that Intelligent Design creationism is dead:

If intelligent design is truly a scientific theory, we should be able to identify its pattern and process components, use it to make testable predictions, and describe observations that would falsify it.

He then cites a couple of examples of Michael Behe’s so-called “irreducible complexity” and discredits them. He finishes this point with:

Suffice it to say that the broad set of observations that would constitute the pattern component of ID is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find.

He then looks at process:

What about the process component of ID? There isn’t one. I have yet to read a description of the process through which the designing intelligence works. Testable predictions? Again, nothing. How can one make predictions without a process or mechanism to base the predictions on? Is ID falsifiable? To my mind the answer is no. That may seem a little strange, since I obviously don’t think that ID is a scientific theory. But that’s precisely my point. Scientifically, ID is dead.

He also mentions that it’s dead legally, thanks to Kitzmiller v. Dover.

Finally, Schlessman comes to the point depicted in the illustration above:

This brings me to the aspect of the intelligent design story that concerns me the most. The people behind ID believe that if you acknowledge the fact of evolution, your moral compass and your religious faith will be destroyed. That simply isn’t true. Yes, I have some scientist friends who are atheists, but I also know scientists who contribute to our understanding of evolution every working day and also seek out churches to attend wherever their scientific work takes them.

This is important on two counts. First, it shows that science and religion don’t have to be in conflict. It is only the Biblical literalists—mental throwbacks to the Dark Ages—who have a problem.

And that brings us to the second point. If we allow Intelligent Design creationism into the schools, besides weakening science education, we are violating the separation of church and state. We are making one specific flavor of Biblical literalism the official state church of the United States. That doesn’t just violate the rights of a minority, such as atheists or Hindus who don’t follow that religion. It violates the rights of the majority of Christians, who also don’t believe that particular flavor of Christianity.

That’s what the separation of church and state is all about. It not only protects the rights of a minority, it protects the rights of the majority.

16 Responses to “Intelligent Design is Dead!”

  1. scripto Says:

    Dump Mr. Parsons and his traveling spambots. It’s everywhere and it’s getting irritating. Great post, by the way. The pattern and process components as part of a successful theory is a great way to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

  2. Ron Britton Says:

    I deleted the comment. It was spam, and it is tiring.

  3. Daniel Says:

    dad-stop your trolling and add real arguments.

  4. scripto Says:

    Dad – glad you’re not my dad. That would confer a genetic disadvantage right there.

  5. Jalestra Says:

    Evolution defies the 2nd law of thermodynamics? Really? How? I notice you quoted the party line, but gave no examples of how. Perhaps you should leave chemistry to the scientists or go get a REAL scientific degree. You tell me how evolution defies that 2nd law and we’ll go from there.

    BTW, I’ve read the Bible twice, front to back. I find that I know more about it than “christians”.

  6. Bunkie Says:

    dad – please study up on evolution before you start making wild statements like “when was the last time you saw a monkey give birth to a human?” That is NOT how it works!! If you are going to try to discuss thing like evolution and thermodynamics, etc., you really, really need to understand the concept first! It is obvious that you do not. And that makes you look like the Moron.

  7. Ron Britton Says:

    Dad, you’re the worst troll we’ve had here. You’re spouting the most simplistic party lines you people have. How about backing up your claims?

    You started by saying “The Bible is the inerrant word of God.” OK. Back that up. You won’t be allowed to proceed until you do.

    You also said that evolution defies the second law of thermodynamics. How? While you’re at it, please tell us what the second law is. You probably don’t even know that.

    Third, you said there is no evidence for the THEORY of evolution. Please define the word theory. You are clearly not using it correctly.

  8. Ron Britton Says:

    Dad:

    I have deleted all of your comments. As I said above, you will not be permitted to leave additional comments here until you provide supporting evidence for the claims you have made so far.

    Oh, and by the way. I have a message for you from one of your friends:

    Jesus phoned me up this morning and told me.

  9. Daniel Says:

    Does anyone here think that dad really isn’t opposed to evolution, but just someone who wants to demonize those who oppose it? Because really, real creationists aren’t that thick.

  10. Jalestra Says:

    I think he’s just trying to rile us…I mean, does anyone actually believe that “when was the last time a monkey gave birth to a human” line? No one could possibly still be that ignorant…though I’ve been wrong before….

  11. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Just got back from vacation. What a wonderful slew of posts I missed while gone! I’ve run into those like “dad” in many other forums. He’s likely neither a fundie nor does he believe anything he is saying. More than likely, he’s like 14 years old and has fun trolling up forums for the sake of trolling.

    He probably saw the “fundie bingo” post and started posting all the squares in this forum in an attempt to get the reactions that he got. Glad Ron has “banned” him from posting. As frustrating, annoying, and stupid as Kevin was, he at least seemed to buy the manure he was shoveling at us, so the arguments were at least real.

  12. James O'Kelly Says:

    I wish you hadn’t deleted Dad. I love it when people who can think for themselves read, then proceed to tear the non-arguments of the average dumbshit evangelicals to pieces.

  13. Ron Britton Says:

    James:

    I usually leave fundie comments on the site, precisely for the reason you mention. If you check some of the other threads, you’ll see a few scattered about (the Ben Stein article has one). Dad is a gibbering sub-moron who is incapable of forming even a partial thought. I sometimes joke about fundies being retarded, but when confronted by a real case, it’s best to walk away quietly and not upset them.

  14. Go Krazy Says:

    Not all Christians are dumbasses! However, the Religious Right are no doubt so. They are pathetic, racist, war-mongering fascists who want to take over the US, Canada and the world starting with our schools!!!

    We even have these Jesus Freak idiots writing in papers- here in Canada- about bringing back “the Bible in Class” and re-teaching Creationism in school. Yes, with the Bible there will be no problems like during the good ol’ days of the US South during segregation or in Catholic schools where nice priests tuck in little boys!

    No more wars for these (and Right-Wing Jewish) crazies! Keep the Conservatives away from the cookie jar, far, far away!

  15. Aristothenes Says:

    America is made ridicilous by all who deny facts on religious grounds. Nobody who is in power in Europe would be for long if they denied facts like evolution. Iran comes close to mind when it comes to science these days.

  16. Gerry Says:

    The problem in America is that it is a TV culture!
    NASCAR is a load of shit – but religiously followed by millions. Same applies to billy graham, kent hovind, ken ham, ray (bananaman) comfort, o’reilly and a lot of senators.
    There are a lot of “pastors,reverends and priests” that sway influence yet know jack shit about anything. America will be ruled by thick assholes until this matter is addressed.
    Solution:- allow the assholes to exist, but keep them out of influential positions.
    About pastors, priests, reverends and the like – nowhere in their bible are they called for and they work contrary to their god – according to them, he worked his arse off for 6 days and rested on the 7th. They do jack shit for 6 days and then espouse bullshit on the 7th day to collect money in order to feed their useless selves.
    They (the god botherers) are the real scourge!!

    Gerry