"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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Thursday, January 20, 2005
  This Is A Little Long, But You'll Thank Me After You've Read It...
Intelligent Design for Dummies (hat tip: Pharyngula):
Q: What's Intelligent Design?
A: "The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion."

Q:I'm sorry, I was distracted by a sparkly object. What was that?
A: It's the science that concludes that life is so very, very complicated that by necessity it must have been created by an intelligence.

Q: I hear that! Why just the other day I tried to get on the bus but my pass was clipped to my pants so I had to jump up and down to try to reach the little machine -
A: No, no, I mean "complicated" as in "complex." DNA, cellular biology, etc. It's all so complex that there HAD to be a designer.

Q: Oh. Like God?
A: Not necessarily. Just an "intelligence." A lot of ID people are very careful to point out that they are scientists, and positing an "intelligence" that created life doesn't mean "God." Could be anything.

Q: Like a giant lobster.
A: Sure. Like a giant lobster.

Q: Or space aliens? Or a totally, like, super-smart cherry pie?
A: ... I suppose.

Q: So these ID guys don't believe in God.
A: Oh no, they do.

Q: All of them?
A: Pretty much. So what? Doesn't mean they can't be scientists.

Q: Oh. So there's all these scientific papers they write, right?
A: Yes.

Q: What do they say?
A: Well, they're diverse and technical, but they all come to the conclusion that life was created by an intelligence.

Q: Why?
A: Because it looks like it.

Q: That's it?
A: Pretty much. It's all about how the design of life resembles the designs of people. And a lot of stuff about how it's a better explanation than evolution.

Q: Okay, I am by definition a complete idiot, right?
A: Yes.

Q: But still... how does such a pursuit constitute a "science?" It seems to me that ID offers no direct evidence nor does it present a path for continued inquiry. It seems that the discipline exists only to shore up a single unprovable theory rather than to refine or further it. Is that actually science, or is that a meticulous manipulation of data for nonscientific ends?
A: Um...

Q: Furthermore, is this not an idea that exists to negate, forcing evolutionary theorists to prove that each and every natural phenomenon was NOT created by an intelligence?
A: Well...

Q: Whereas a real science would not just employ scientific methods to shore up a foregone conclusion, but rather use scientific methods to determine precisely how something operates, right?
A: It's science, all right? It's science.

Q: So what is ID doing to research the identity and characteristics of this "intelligence" that it posits?
A: Well, nothing that I've found yet...

Q: Because if they really wanted to research stuff, they'd be saying things like, "Well, could a giant lobster make a flower?" and, "Is there anything about the design of DNA that looks like something a space crustacean would come up with?"
A: I really think you need to get off this whole lobster thing.

Q: But these ID guys aren't looking into just who this intelligence is, are they?
A: No.

Q: Because they think it's God, right?
A: They don't say that.

Q: Because if they thought they saw evidence of giant superintelligent eyestalks peering down on them from under a celestial carapace, they'd be seriously bummed, wouldn't they?
A: I think this Q&A is over now.

Q: Yeah, but, the goal of science is to-
A: Hey, look at these keys.

Q: Oooooh - sparkly!
A: ...


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