Intelligent Design is a theory supported by many Christian to point at God as the creator of all that exists.
Intelligent Design argues that the complexity of the universe could not have originated by chance and required an intelligent designer, who is unnamed, to set things in motion.
Some argue Intelligent Design is not just a theory. Instead it is an attempt to teach religion in the classroom because God is usually named as the designer.
This article will try to determine if Intelligent Design is science that should be more recognized.
The Problem With Intelligent Design
The United States National Academy of Sciences (USNAS) states that Intelligent Design is not science. “Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.”
How can we test Creationism? Our current technology and knowledge of the universe provides us with no way to test God. So far, Intelligent Design’s leading proponents have not put forth a test for the theory to satisfy the requirement pointed out by the USNAS.
Intelligent Design is also criticized because it is said to make no scientific predictions.
What is Science?
Ultimately, science is the pursuit of knowledge or understanding on any given aspect of the workings universe and or society in which we live. The way most scientists go about verifying the scientific validity of understanding is by testing it with the scientific method.
We should understand the scientific method is only as good as the tests we are capable of conducting. The better technology the more capable we are at examining and testing our scientific understanding.
Every year science presents us with studies that challenge the past’s understandings. As it turns out, what we knew yesterday is very different from today. What we think is true today may be different tomorrow.
This means scientific truth is largely undiscovered. Science is still evolving! We can look through history and see this evolution take place.
Lets turn the calendar back 2,500 years to Ancient Greece. The cutting edge science of the day stated everything was derived from four elements: fire, earth, water and air.
During the Middle Ages this changed. The scientific community was comprised of alchemist. As you know, alchemist tried to create gold from other metals. Alchemist believed everything was made of tiny hooks.
Today we think atoms make up the universe. As you can see, scientific understanding of mater has evolved from four elements, to tiny hooks, to atoms. Science is still evolving.
Will our scientific understanding be like that of our ancestors? Will our children wonder why we believed in Atoms? The answer is, “Yes.”
It is already happening. Atomic theory is being challenged by something called String Theory. String Theory claims everything is made of tiny strings. Some scientists expect String Theory to prove to be superior to atomic theory.
Think about it. If string theory proves to be true, many of those chemistry tests you studied so hard for in high school have been for nothing. The understanding of basic elements may be happening again, right before our eyes.
As the history of scientific understanding shows us time and time again, the pursuit of knowledge is an illusive one. It is foolish to believe we fully understand the universe.
Even after using the “scientific method” we find what we think we know about the world is not even close. The more we test something, the more we find out we don’t really get it.
The reason our quest for knowledge via testing data falls short is because we do not have all the data to perform a proper test, nor the technology to perform it. Even if we had more data, the tests would become more complex requiring more technology.
This means much of science becomes “guess work”. The scientific community, in essence, votes on the “best guess”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because if science didn’t take guesses, we would get nowhere.
At the very least this should show that science, even with tests, is hardly 100% reliable knowledge. The best anyone can do for understanding origins is make a good guess and hope one day science will provide a way to test it.
This realization should allow scientists to be more open to a theory like Intelligent Design. After all, they do not know everything, and what they think we know is an educated guess in the end.
How can scientists be so sure Intelligent Design is not true? If it truly isn’t testable, is it automatically false? How can science be so quick to dismiss it?
Censorship of Intelligent Design
Dr. Eugenie Scott and other atheist have pushed an aggressive campaign against allowing Intelligent Design in the classroom. With USNAS’s criticism they have systematically made it illegal for a school system to teach Intelligent Design.
If you have time, you should educate yourself on the motivation behind this censorship by watching the following video:
If you do not have time to watch the video, allow me to summarize. It states that Intelligent Design is not science. It is a religious movement that began as “Creationism,” but merely changed its name to Intelligent Design.
The organization has been very successful at keeping it out of schools on this premise. Now it is considered unconstitutional to teach in K-12 classrooms. Courts punish school systems with heavy fines when they attempt to teach Intelligent Design.
The secular world frowns on Intelligent Design. Mostly, they feel it is another way to “pollute” science with religious ideas. It is not seen as a genuine attempt to explain origins, but rather an excuse to have “Sunday school” in the name of science.
Intelligent Design historically has been used as a reason to change curriculum in public schools, so I hardly blame atheists for being skeptical about the motive behind the theory. However, I do find fault with anyone who would dismiss a theory solely because its proponents have an agenda.
This dismissal based on agenda has gone beyond censorship of Intelligent Design in the classroom and has hindered the scientific community as a whole from considering the validity of the theory.
Creation science in general, as a new field, has always been under fire and receives little aid for research. And that shortcoming makes it appear to have no hope for scientific acceptance.
It is as if some scientific organizations fear some aspect of the theory might prove to be scientific. If that happened, religion would suddenly have a place with science, and therefore a place in schools.
If you watch the video, you can see how Intelligent Design is heavily mocked. It is mostly mocked because it is seen as an excuse to have church at school with little scientific support. As a result no scientist will step up to explore Intelligent Design even for genuine science purposes.
Now, Intelligent Design is at a huge disadvantage. Most scientist think it is just an agenda, so no scientists will explore it. Other scientists have an agenda of keeping religion and science separate, so they dislike Intelligent Design because its advocates want to unite the two.
All this makes the scientific community highly skeptical of the few brave scientists who attempt to study it. As a result, the theory makes no progress. As a result, the lack of progress appears to mean lack of validity, and its critics say that it is pseudo science.
Is Science only a Test?
Atheists say Intelligent Design is pseudo science because it cannot be tested. We can’t experiment on it. Let’s put this in perspective.
If we lived 2,000 years ago it would have been impossible to prove the existence of atoms with the technology of the day. Pretend a group believed in Atomic Theory that long ago. Now, lets say the scientist of that day apply the same standards the USNAS puts on Intelligent Design.
If they did that, the leading scientists of the day would be forced to dismiss the idea! “You can’t test the idea, so it is not scientific.” Would the Atomic Theory be labeled “pseudo science,” because no test existed to support the idea?
As we know, the Atomic theory has lead to amazing technologies today. Everything from the plastic in our phones to the steal in our buildings comes from the understanding of the chemistry, which utilizes the Atomic Theory.
If such a groundbreaking theory were available to the scientists of old, technology would have had the chance to advance 2,000 years! But with no test to prove it, Atomic theory would have been tossed out with the trash. No school would be allowed to teach it, no respected establishment would remain credited if it promoted this idea.
Should science be so rigid that it cannot consider something unless the scientific method can be applied then and there? If it does, it must throw out other theories until all are test worthy.
Our access to knowledge and technological abilities sometimes limits our ability to perform conclusive scientific tests. Because we cannot test everything, there is quite a bit of truth about our world that remains to be acknowledged by scientists. For that reasons scientists have theories.
Theories are like educated guess for an answer to our questions about the universe, ideally based upon reliable data. A theory is considered to be sound when it takes into consideration much of the reliable data available.
If we cannot test theories yet, why are they considered scientific? When someone defines a theory is the way I did, it looks like the scientific community is using a double standard when it comes to Intelligent Design.
Theories are considered scientific because they might be proven right, or wrong, given that future information and technology provides us with a way to examine it. Scientific theories are ideas that are plausible by modern understanding yet unproven because of the limitation to test it directly.
The reason the title “The Big Bang” always has the word “Theory” tacked at the end of it is because we cannot test it directly to prove it right or wrong. If we could test the theory we would know if its claims were true or not.
The same can be said for the Theory of Evolution as the Origin of the Species. We can’t directly test it to prove it right or wrong.
However, what both of these theories are said to have is data based on observation that implies they are plausible answers to the question, “How did we get here?”
What about Intelligent Design? I do not often see the word “Theory” attached, but it is a theory. Because of technical limitations we cannot test it, just like the other theories. Is it a plausible theory? Is it based on observation or reliable data?
I would argue that it could be. Intelligent Design hypothesizes that complex systems of life can only have originated from an intelligent designer; random events are insufficient to result in even the simplest forms of life.
With our current technology we can measure how complex life is and through experimentation we can determine how difficult life is to create. We can then speculate how capable natural processes with no intelligence are at producing life.
A group of scientists is already working on creating life in a lab. They expect to create a single cell organism by the year 2017. The task is extremely complex; they had to get a head start, using fatty acids, to create the cell membrane (fatty acids that came from organisms that are already living). They claim it will be a huge achievement to keep it alive for more than an hour. (creating life)
If they can create life, the next question will be “Can this process be reproduced in nature with no intelligent intervention?”
I will not attempt to answer these questions, but it seems unlikely. Whatever the answer, the core of the Intelligent Design Theory does seem testable in the near future. What is not testable (yet) is trying to figure out “who” the designer is.
For whatever reason, the above “test” has not been suggested, or is not worthy of the scientific community’s ear.
Predictions are an important part of the scientific method. They are used as a part of the experiment to validate a theory. Some in the scientific community claim Intelligent Design makes no predictions.
I do not believe this to be so. One prediction stated in the theory is that life will prove to be to complex to originate from natural/random circumstances.
Another prediction, while not widely discussed in science, is that if the designer created once he could do it again. We could predict encountering or witnessing a new creation at some point in the future.
Dangers of Intelligent Design for the Faithful
Did you know some priests in the Catholic Church actually supported the Big Bang Theory at first? That is because at the time scientists didn’t believe the universe had a beginning. The priests reasoned that if the church had a scientific theory that proved the universe had a beginning, we might be able to prove God started it.
Yet, the support backfired. Now the Big Bang Theory is supported by scientists, as hoped, but instead is used by many as reasons to doubt God. Why? Because the Big Bang isn’t in scripture.
The same could happen with Intelligent Design. Note that when you are reading news about Intelligent Design, notice how when the Christians are asked, “Whom is the designer according the theory,” they never answer, “God.”
This is because Intelligent Design is not really a theory that proves God exists. It can show us how something smart created us. Therefore, it could backfire in a big way.
Intelligent Design, by itself, fails to debunk the Theory of Evolution of the Species. It is not an alternative to Evolution, instead it could be considered as the cause of Evolution. The unnamed designer might be viewed by the scientific community as the one who initiated the first single cell life that would eventually evolve.
While Intelligent Design is a step towards proving God is there, it will not be the final destination to prove God created us as described in Genesis.
Science has yet to lead us to full understanding of the universe. Therefore, we cannot automatically remove God from origins of the universe and life, even if it has religious implications.
The criticism that the Theory of Intelligent Design is not science is unfounded. It hypothesizes that an intelligent creator as the origin of life. It predicts only intelligence could initiate life because of its complexities. It predicts natural/random events are insufficient for the creation of life. It predicts the chance of the “Intelligent Designer” creating again.
We can test many of these claims by making life ourselves. Upon understanding how complex it is to make life we can learn how likely such requirements occur be in nature. If those requirements do not or cannot occur together in nature, we will have proven the second prediction. We can also wait to see if the creator creates again, or search for evidence has already done so.
The areas we cannot test do not disqualify it from being considered science. It simply means, like any other inconclusive hypothesis, that we have a scientific theory.