Saturday, October 15, 2005

Unscientific Design

The recent court case involving the inclusion of Intelligent Design in Dover, PA science classes is yet another attempt to masquerade religion as science. While it may be suitable to discuss these issues in a philosophy or religion class, it is not appropriate for a science class. Intelligent Design is not science. It’s not even bad science. In fact, the basic premise of Intelligent Design is anti-scientific in nature.

Science attempts to explain the world through the rigorous analysis of observational data, peer review, and repetition of experiments. If experiments or new data prove that the original hypothesis is incorrect, theories are refined, adjusted, or perhaps discarded altogether. The process is not flawless. A rare few, either intentionally or through willful ignorance, will falsify, withhold, or otherwise fudge information. The process of science, however, eventually weeds these individuals out and reevaluates the results. The relentless pursuit of the truth marches on.

Unfortunately, it is only with rare exception(Buddhism being the prime example), that religion is as open minded. In general, religion is based on established, inalterable, supposedly infallible dogma. The practioners and proclaimers are more concerned about the propagation of propaganda than the pursuit of the truth. It is assumed that the Truth is already known. Such is the case with Intelligent Design.

Science and religion, although they view the world from different perspectives, should have the same goal of discovering the truth. Sometimes the search for scientific explanations must be put on hold while new techniques or technology catch up to the needs of the researcher, but the inexorable quest for the truth continues.

Intelligent Design starts its exploration of the truth by giving up. It assumes that the universe is simply too complex to have occurred without the help of a creator. It doesn’t attempt to use any form of scientific investigation. It simply assumes that humanity lacks the creative capacity to understand how the universe and life came to be and that we will always be in the dark about the matter. What if we had applied this approach to other issues of the past? We all would have been taught that the world is flat and that the Earth is the center of the universe. All of the knowledge gained through the efforts of explorers of the truth such as Curie, Pasteur, Newton, Einstein, and a myriad of others less well known would never have made its way into our classrooms. What kind of science is based on holding to the status quo?

Nothing called science deserves the name unless it is open to truth and willing to change in the face of new information. Likewise, religion should be open to truth and willing to change when information contrary to established doctrine is uncovered. Any religion unwilling to do so is unworthy of following. Intelligent Design fails on both counts, scientific and religious.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

It seems pretty clear that those who favor teaching Intelligent Design in public schools don't understand what science is. Science deals with the natural world and natural processes. Science works by sifting through evidence, proposing theories, and gathering more evidence to either support or reject the original hypothesis. Intelligent Design offers no verifiable proof and is unwilling to alter its position based on new evidence.

By definition, any Creator would have to have worked through supernatural activities. Science will never prove whether God exists or not and science cannot confirm Intelligent Design. The two areas are mutually exclusive. Science may eventually fill in all of the gaps in evolutionary theory, but it still doesn't mean Intelligent Design is incorrect. Or science may never get a rock solid handle on evolution, but that doesn't mean Intelligent Design is correct.

There is no science in Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design simply assumes that because science cannot currently answer all of the questions, that the universe is beyond our ability to understand because a "god" created it. It assumes that we mere mortals are incapable of putting together the pieces and solving this puzzle. What if we had gone along with this in the past and decided to give up on certain aspects of science? We would still think that the universe orbits the flat earth and that flies spontaneously appear in roadkill. We would have ignored progress in all fields of science and medicine because the problems appeared to intractable at the time.

Intelligent Design supporters simply say that if we can't give an answer NOW, then they must be right. That's like me asking a five year old to explain how a microwave works and when they can't tell me, I insist that my explanation (i.e., invisible radioactive hamsters on a treadmill) MUST be the right one. I have no proof (after all they're invisible), but they can't give me a provable answer NOW. It's not that they won't eventually be capable of understanding microwave radiation, rotational modes in water molecules, and other aspects of the process, its just that they currently don't have the necessary tools (education in this case) to discover the truth.

I don't believe in Intelligent Design, but I'm willing to accept that it could be correct; it's just not science and doesn't belong in a science classroom. I do believe in some form of evolution, but it could ultimately prove to be totally unlike the process that we currently accept. If another theory proves to be more in line with reality I will accept it. Are those who support Intelligent Design willing to be as open minded? So far, the evidence seems slim.

Let's leave science in the science classroom and religion (veiled as science) in the religion and philosophy classrooms.

Pat Robertson

As an atheist, I don't believe in heaven and hell; but if I'm wrong, I'm pretty sure I'll have a nice, warm room in hell awaiting me. Not that I'm a wild sinner, but it seems that God is more interested in worship and praise than actions. But there is one comforting thought; if I'm going to hell, I'm certain that Pat Robertson will be there making me laugh. Some things never change even in hell.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

What Happened to Freedom of Religion?

A Marion County, Indiana judge's unusual order prohibits a divorced couple from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." The parents are Wiccans, members of a neo-pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

It's unbelieveable that in the 21st Century, a court can decide what religious exposure is best for a child despite the agreement of both parents on what it should be.

Hopefully, the appeal will be reviewed by a judge without a personal agenda and this blatantly unconstitutional decision will be reversed.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Rev. Lovelace Should Be Flushed

Rev. Creighton Lovelace, minister of the Danieltown Baptist Church in Forest City, North Carolina, put up a sign at his church that states "The Koran needs to be flushed." I submit that it is Mr. Lovelace who needs to be flushed --- flushed from his church by his congregation.

We live in a country with religious freedom. You don't have to agree with or follow another person's religion, but you should at least show it and them some modicum of respect. As a non-Christian, the Bible is no more than "just another book" to me. How would Mr. Lovelace respond to a sign in my yard saying that the Bible should be flushed? I doubt he would be as tolerant of that behavior.

Mr. Lovelace is showing ignorance and intolerance of a level which is inexcusable as a church leader. Instead of promoting a positive message on his church signboard, he has to resort to bashing another religion. These are the tactics of those who can't defend their own religion on its own merits.

Obviously, Mr. Lovelace's congregation can do as it pleases, but if that kind of behavior was going on at a church I attended, I'd move to have him fired.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ten Commandments

In March, the Supreme Court will be taking up cases concerning the public display of the Ten Commandments. Many of those who support the displays state that they are the foundation of our laws. In my opinion, if the Ten Commandments were truly the foundation of our country's law, then our laws should reflect most, if not all, of the commandments. But if we review the Ten Commandments, we find that only a few are actually codified as law.

Four of the commandments are clearly purely religious and would conflict with the 1st Amendment if enacted as law:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

As for the rest:

Honour thy father and thy mother.
There are no laws against being a smartmouth to your parents.

Thou shalt not kill.
Yes, illegal.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Not illegal, but detrimental to your marriage and divorce case.

Thou shalt not steal.
Yes, illegal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness ...
It's only illegal to lie in court. You tell your wife you love her new hairdo or clothes even if you don't.

Thou shalt not covet ...
You can covet away all you want. It's only illegal if you act on it.

As you can see only 2 or 3 of these commandments are actually in our law. Hardly a case for being the foundation of our legal system. Additionally, several aspects are missing such as rape, assault, public drunkenness, and child molestation to name a few. Apparently these weren't important enough to include in the Ten Commandments. I think that time would be better spent if politicians and judges spent more time enacting better laws and effectively implemented them, rather than trying to convince us of the falsehood that this country was founded on the Ten Commandments.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Are We The Martians?

With the recent news about potential evidence of life on Mars and previous conjecture about the presence of life in Antarctic Martian meteorites, one can only wonder if we are the Martians?

Is it possible that life on Earth was seeded by life giving meteorites from Mars?

If and when the presence of life on Mars is confirmed, it is going to open up a big can of worms both scientifically and theologically.

I can't wait!