The Verdict Is In

Not that you should be too surprised by the rigged outcome :

The mock trial of Darwin’s theory by Kansas’ Board of Education, which concluded on May 12, included testimonies and cross-examination of and by pro-evolution and pro-creationism experts.

The board’s trial voted 6 to 4 in favour of bringing the concept of “intelligent design” within the methods of teaching science in schools. Over two dozen scientists, teachers and lawyers said the state’s science standards be amended to incorporate alternative thinking.
. . .
At the centre of the trials is Steve Abrams, a veterinarian and Republican, who among other things believes that earth is only 5,000 years old, a view propagated by Christian conservatives, as opposed to 4.5 billion years as argued by scientists.

Abrams as the board chairman has challenged the validity of evolution as the only valid explanation of life. He has said evolutionary biology is inadequate in terms of evidence and there ought to be an intelligent designer at the helm.

Now let’s put aside the obvious fact that the folks pushing intelligent design are the same ones who think the Bible code is real, are looking for Noah’s ark, and think dinosaur bones were hidden underground by the devil. On its own merits, intelligent design is complete horseshit.

First of all, if you’re an ID advocate, stop using the word “theory”. You don’t get to use that word. What you’re trying to push is a hypothesis, which is always trumped by a theory. Just ask one of the kids whose science classes you’re trying to screw up. When scientists have an idea about how the world works, they come up with a hypothesis that they can test. If it stands up to repeated scrutiny, it eventually gets labeled a scientific “theory”. There’s a few decades of research and peer review to do before you earn the right to use that word.

Before that happens, you should also deal with the fact that intelligent design is a crappy hypothesis. It would be one thing if your “alternative thinking” was based on an observation of some sort, but it’s just a half-assed inferrence based on a lack of evidence. Looking at nature’s complexity and jumping to the conclusion that it must have been to the work of a “designer” holds about as much scientific merit and assuming that thunder is the sound god makes when she’s angry.

So if you’re serious about the “Gosh, the world sure is complicated. It must be god’s work.” hypothesis, go back to the drawing board. Stop concentrating on what you percieve to be evolution’s weaknesses and try working on ID’s strengths. Find a way to incorporate your beliefs with every bit of evidence that the scientific world has previously discovered and figure out how to test the damn thing. Submit your new hypothesis to some scientific journals and pray that the free marketplace of ideas favors your side.

It bears repeating that ID advocates already tried to get some respect for their hypotheis in the scientific community back when it was called “creationism”. They failed. This route isn’t about getting respect for intelligent design, it’s about trying to take a short cut (and in the process cripple the next generation of scientists) by appealing to the beliefs and exploiting the ignorance of school board members. As much as I want to religion out of public schools, my big concern here is protecting the integrity of our educational system from being slowly eroded by a flood of pseudoscience.

UPDATE : Reader Tony writes in to point out a mistake in the article I quoted above :

The “trial” was held before a subcommittee of three of the board’s most conservative members. They will supposedly take their findings to the rest of the board, which will vote sometime in the summer about which science standards to accept. The “minority” standards that they are likely to report won’t, as your post claimed, require Kansas teachers to instruct their students in intelligent design. The ID supporters are more subtle than that. Instead, they change the definition of science itself so that it will be open to “objective” approaches (i.e., allowing the role of miracles in the development of life).