It is unfortunate that so many conservative thinkers fall have fallen for the idea that Intelligent Design (or "ID") qualifies as science. ID may well be true -- that is, there may well be a God or other designer who created the cosmos and set the universe in motion -- but that does not mean it is science. ID offers no testable hypotheses or anything else that can be validated empirically. While some works of ID may be interesting conjecture or provocative philosophical exercises, they they do not entail rigorous applications of the scientific method.
In Friday's column, Charles Krauthammer makes this point, and challenges the effort to inject ID into scientific education.
Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?Krauthammer further argues that the question whether God designed the universe or is the ultimate force behind the laws of the universe is a question for religion, not science -- and that conflating the two threatens both.
In order to justify the farce that intelligent design is science, Kansas had to corrupt the very definition of science, dropping the phrase " natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us," thus unmistakably implying -- by fiat of definition, no less -- that the supernatural is an integral part of science. This is an insult both to religion and science.
The relentless attempt to confuse the two by teaching warmed-over creationism as science can only bring ridicule to religion, gratuitously discrediting a great human endeavor and our deepest source of wisdom precisely about those questions -- arguably, the most important questions in life -- that lie beyond the material.Evolution is not a threat to religious belief, nor should religious truth threaten science. Once school boards recognize this fact, and stop trying to inject one into the other, both religion and science will be better off.