In the comments to a previous post, Micha took issue with what I think is an absolutely crushing argument in the "Is ID scientific?" debate. To repeat the argument: Many orthodox biologists etc. (whom I shall call "neo-Darwinians" for lack of a better term) say that not only is ID wrong, it's not even worthy of being called a false theory. To them, to explain the first cell as being consciously designed (rather than searching for a story involving lightning, amino acids, etc.) is like explaining thunderstorms by the anger of Zeus.
This is too narrow a conception of what science is. My favorite way to demonstrate is the following consideration: It is certainly possible that life on Earth was seeded by intelligent aliens, who designed a cell with all sorts of sophisticated DNA etc., then set it loose here billions of years ago. Now just suppose that were true. How in the world would we humans ever figure that out? Why, through people doing the exact type of research that the ID people are doing. And a necessary component of that process of learning the truth would be to critique the Darwinian explanations, by saying, "Yeah, you can tell a nice story about photosensitive cells gradually turning into a human eye over millions of years, but you haven't actually listed each specific step."
Now in response to my argument here, Micah in the comments said that this is just pushing back the problem one step: Where did the alien designers come from?
We don't know, because we haven't observed them yet. As a Christian, of course, I think they were ultimately created in the mind of God, as was everything else. But the Darwinian story might work for them.
This is a misconception about Michael Behe's notion of "irreducible complexity." Behe doesn't simply say, "I believe Genesis so shut up." He doesn't even just say, "Wow organisms are complicated; must be God." No, what he says is that there are many organisms whose overall structure could not have arisen step by step, with each intermediate stage conferring reproductive advantage over the previous one.
Now maybe Behe is wrong about this; maybe it is just his lack of imagination. But the point is, if Behe is right about life on Earth, the aliens could have evolved the way neo-Darwinists say it happened here. And if Behe looked at their cells under a microscope, he might be able to say, "Oh, now these cells aren't irreducibly complex! See, they're just this simple pattern repeated over and over. I can see how the aliens could've evolved into their current form from the sludge on their home planet, given enough time."
So again folks, if you want to say the ID people are nuts, and that they're liars who care nothing of science and just want to push their religion on people, OK fair enough. But this claim that ID isn't "scientific" is goofy. It prevents us from ever learning the truth if the alien story just so happened to be true. In that case, how would we ever learn? From philosophers? Theologians?
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