Letters

Intelligent design debate still prompts prolific response

Regarding Alexander George's Dec. 22 Opinion piece, "What's wrong with intelligent design, and with its critics": I consider myself to be a scientist, that is, someone who likes to verify his beliefs empirically, through experience. I am a supporter of the concept of "intelligent design" for a simple reason - because the prevailing concept of the origin of life is embarrassingly unscientific.

The problem with the prevailing concept of evolution is that it simply pushes the main problem of evolution, which is how life was created in the first place, back into the remote past. Then the theory says something like, "Well, there were a bunch of chemicals, and they randomly got mixed together, and then ZAP! Life suddenly appeared out of this goop."

Not only has this idea never been replicated in a laboratory, it is also simply inelegant. And I personally find it something of a conundrum that any scientist - who, at the least, ought to be open-minded - can say that evolution is a better theory than intelligent design. It is in fact a miserable, unreplicable theory. Intelligent design could hardly be much less plausible than this.

The essentially Darwinian concept of the evolution of life has achieved something of the status of a "religious" litmus test for many academics today: It is a statement of unquestionable faith that is necessary to make to join their club.

I believe we ought to embrace intelligent design as a theory, as a means of encouraging all of us to try to come up with something better than the idea that human beings (and all life, simple and complex) evolved out of an accidental goo.
Ron Faulk
Associate dean of general studies
St. Gregory's University
Shawnee, Okla.

I could not disagree more strongly with the opinion expressed by Alexander George regarding intelligent design as bad science. Both good science and bad science are data driven. The bad science fails when it is shown that the interpretation of the data was flawed in some way, and thus reinterpretation of the data leads to better understanding of the phenomena under investigation.

Intelligent design fails as science not because it fails to follow some "scientific method," but because it has absolutely no data at all. This is not a matter of misinterpretation. There is no data to misinterpret. Intelligent design is at present a myth and belongs in the same category as the other creation myths of a number of cultures. It could be right or it could be wrong, but since there is no data there is no way to scientifically test it. So it is outside the realm of science. No data, no science - it's that simple.

If intelligent design proponents ever come up with anything remotely resembling real data, then perhaps this can be reviewed by peers and can enter the realm of science and thus be judged as either bad or good science. But for now, intelligent design does not belong in the science classroom. It belongs in Sunday school, or perhaps a philosophy class.

Years ago, I debated Henry Morris, the "creation scientist." It was apparent that creation science, and its latest incarnation, intelligent design, are upside down. In science the data leads to hypothesis and then to theory, and theory changes as more and new data is acquired. Intelligent design proponents start with "theory" and then try to warp and shape the data to fit the theory; the data that simply cannot be warped and shaped is disregarded or depredated. This is not science by any reasonable definition of the word.
John C. Jahoda
Professor of biology
Bridgewater State College
Bridgewater, Mass.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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