Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Continuing the dialogue regarding intelligent design

I've read so many wonderfully thoughtful comments to my last post that I'm going to post some of my responses and additional thoughts in the hopes of keeping the dialogue going. Thank you all for keeping the discussion positive and insightful. Earl, thanks for your many good comments, but I want to discuss your earliest question as to what theory is testable. The theory that life developed by chance (I'm intentionally shying away for Neo-Darwinist, and such labels) is likely not testable. But, assuming the intelligent designer still exists, ID should be testable. As I noted in the previous post, if the designer is no longer present, the whole discussion hardly matters, since it makes no practical difference to our lives that life came about by chance or by the design of an intelligence that is no longer present. But if the designer is still present, we should be able to detect the designer through scientific means. Proof of the designer would be powerful proof of the ID theory. I suppose that an intelligence great enough to create life would also be intelligent enough to avoid detection if it (I use "it" because it seems likely to me that the designer would be genderless) so desired, but why would it want to hide? Patrick, I liked your comment that you believe the designer is present and can be detected. Why not try scientific means to detect it? Joe, good to see you doing your homework, but I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion. For example, if the question is why not teach ID in a religion class, it is a perfectly acceptable answer to say that religion classes don't exist in the vast majority of public high schools, so the question is pointless. You can't teach any theory, religious or not, in a class that doesn't exist. To Steve and Tatterdermalian, I share some of your skepticism, but I'm willing to accept the representations of the ID proponents at face value. Certainly, it is a logically consistent and defensible view that intelligent design is at least as likely as random design, and that view can be held with or without an accompanying religious belief that there was, in fact, a designer and that designer still exists. Mike, your last paragraph was inspiring and I'm so glad you find joy in your religion. I envy believers that joy, even though I don't share it. DRaftervoi, why would an intelligent creation leave behind no evidence? Presumably, the designer would continue to exist and could give us all the evidence we wanted if it chose to communicate. Conversely, the lack of evidence for a designer today suggests, though it by no means proves, that no such designer exists and, perhaps, no such designer ever existed. Exp, yes, the scientific method assume a "faith" in our own ability to observe. The difference is that sound scientific observations are replicable and not dependent on subjective experience or observations of a single person. That is why theories as to the origin of life are scientifically suspect, since they are difficult, if not impossible, to test and replicate. Kathryn, loved your comment and found it helpful as always. However, I think most honest scientists admit they don't know how life originated, and many scientists believe in an intelligent designer (see John Hetman's comment). I hope we can agree to view those who insist on either theory (chance or ID) as a matter of dogma with some doubt. The much more interesting question, at least to me, is whether a creator can be scientifically detected in the here and now. In this, I must admit to my personal bias. I was raised to believe in God and at one time fully intended to become a minister. What eventually stopped me in my tracks was the realization that there was not the slightest bit of empirical evidence that God exists in the here and now. Why would our "Father" play hide-and-seek with us -- appearing in some hearts but not others, appearing in vastly different ways to members of the different religions of the world, and never appearing in any objectively measurable way? No caring, loving human father would act this way and I cannot imagine a Godly Father acting in this way. I don't want to derail the delightful discussion we've been having so far, but if an intelligent designer exists (whether the Christian God or something else entirely) we should be able to detect it. Indeed, it's hard to imagine that such a designer would not be delighted to sit down with us (figuratively, of course) and discuss how it created life. On the one hand, the lack of evidence of a designer leads me to doubt one exists. On the other hand, the prospect of finding emperical evidence of a designer excites me beyond words. Someone suggested that looking for the designer put the cart before the horse. On the contrary, the search for the cart is the search for the horse. If the designer is no longer present (or if no designer ever existed), the origin of life can very likely never be proven. But if the designer is present, the only way to prove intelligent design is to find the designer. Sorry to ramble on so, and I eagerly look forward to your comments.