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November 15, 2005


Alyssa Walker

I have to thank you guys for doing your part in this ridiculous debate! How creative! Kansas sure needs it right now...

As interesting and fun as your "Bone Wars" game sounds, I hope your discount doesn't end up including Utah, where I'm at... but I fear it may be a huge possibility.

Josh C

How can I put this?
Every single thing I learned in a science class was backed up by experiment and proof. For physics, we dropped things and built cars. For chemistry, we mixed and burned things. For anatomy, we dissected things; genealogy we bred fruit flies.
None of these were really definitive proofs, but they did demonstrate the bases of the relevant reasoning. All these things emphasized observation, measurement and repeatable results.
Evolution we just sort of waved our hands at and said "science" a few times.
Terrible as it is, I feel a sort of perverse glee every time evolution gets put on trial now. I very much hope that evolution gets actually taught well so "intelligent design" ends up looking as foolish as it actually is. I think there's plenty of evidence for evolution at even a casual glance, and plenty of scientific research supporting it. Until it's taught as a science though, I'm not certain why it's expected to be perceived as one.
And it could also be that my school was just weird, but I've heard similar opinions from several other people.

Josh C

Incidentally, what, exactly, is the theory ofintelligent design? I know the gist of it, but I must have something wrong somewhere. As far as I can tell, intelligent design encompases the flying spaghetti monster religion, and is entirely irrelevent to evolution. What gives?


To Josh C:

The big problem with the theory of intelligent design is that it's like fencing with fog. It doesn't exist. It has no testable premises, and when you think you've got one pinned down it vanishes.

Intelligent Design is the "theory" that life on Earth did not evolve from nonliving matter but was created by some intelligent entity or entities. So far, so good: A few scientists have suggested this, too -- notably some advocates of "panspermia" like Francis Crick.

But that's not what ID advocates are talking about. They mean a supernatural agency: God.

Now I have _no problem_ with people believing in a divine creation. But I do object to two things: first, it isn't a scientific theory and doesn't belong in a science class. It's not testable. You can't describe the mechanism by which God created life. You can't try to replicate it in the lab. It doesn't _add to your knowledge_.

Second, by presenting ID as a scientific theory, the Creationists are being consciously dishonest. Presumably God will punish them for that.

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  • Diane A. Kelly
    Diane Kelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she studies the neural wiring and mechanical engineering of reproductive systems.
  • James L. Cambias
    Jim Cambias writes science fiction and designs games in the lonely wilderness of Western Massachusetts.