The criteria for something to be considered a scientific theory is that it is a convincing explanatory framework for a body of evidence about the real world. It must make testable predictions, it must be vulnerable to falsification and it must make sense of wide-ranging data that was previously unexplained. (Coyne, 2006) “If a theory can’t be tested or falsified, it is not a scientific theory” (Coyne, 2006)
Intelligent Design, ID, fails to meet these criteria because it is untestable. One reason it is untestable is because it is ambiguous and is often viewed as having two different motives for it’s theory. Secular ID proponents present ID as pure science while within ID there is another group using the theory as a means to bring religion back into science classrooms. Coyne description of ID is my favorite, he described it as “biblical creationism updated and disguised to sneak evangelical Christianity past the first amendment and open the classroom door to Jesus” (Coyne, 2006). Another reason it is untestable is in order to test the theory we would have to be able to question their “intelligent agent”. This is impossible because, even according to one of ID’s own assertions, nothing is known or can be known about the nature of the designer or the designer’s methods. ID also implies that super natural forces are at work. These forces are never explained and therefore can not be tested. The criteria for a scientific method states, as mentioned above, that evidence must be of the real world. Supernatural forces are obviously not of the real world.
IDers often point to unexplained adaptations to validate the idea of a creator. The problem with that is that over time science has been working hard to explain these unexplained adaptations. Science has been able to bring forth these explanations with continued study of the fossil record and discoveries of “intermediates” (Shubin, 2006) in this record. These intermediates are helping to fill the gaps in the fossil record and explain these previously unexplained adaptations that ID has used as proof of their intelligent agent’s work.
ID, like the argument from design, is again the easy way out. Both basically put the burden of proof back on science by saying that everything we can’t yet explain is the work of something, or someone, other then evolution and natural selection. They both imply a creator or designer of some kind, religious, supernatural..etc. The difference is that the argument from design gives the create to “God” as their creator, where as ID remains purposefully vague about who their designer is. ID does this so they can attempt to look like a scientific group as opposed to a religious group.
Brockman, J. Intelligent Thought: Science versus The Intelligent Design Movement. New York: Random House, 2006
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