Saturday, June 09, 2007

Explore evolution

A new anti-evolution book "Explore Evolution" has been released. Co-authored by ID proponenets Stephen Meyer, Scott Minnich and Paul Nelson, what is new about this book from an ID perspective is that it doesn't talk about intelligent design. That's right. The thinking is obviously that if there is no mention of god or ID, then schools should be free to use the book in science classes. They might even succeed. What I do want to do here, is examine this book in the light of William Dembski's concept of the "Explanatory Filter" (EF). Dembski claims that EF is a sure proof method for detecting intelligent design. Three criteria must be met in order for anyone using the EF before they can proclaim that something was intelligently designed:

1. Can scientific law explain the event?
2. Can chance explain the event?
3. Can intelligent intervention explain the event?

The object of the two first points is to exclude false positives. For example, we shouldn't explain the fact that a stone dropped from a height will fall down by invoking something intelligent. Law (gravity) will suffice to explain this. Neither should we invoke intelligence when something improbable occurs - unless it is too improbable (as in the writings in this post; the probability that the letters contained herein should occur in the order they do is virtually impossible). If law and chance can't explain an event, Dembski wants us to ask a third question: could something intelligent have done it? Given that ID doesn't say anything about the intelligent designer and that the potential designer could be an omnipotent god, the answer is ALWAYS yes - point 3 is, in essence, a truism. Previous books by ID proponents have always gone into some detail, not just about how evolution can't but, how intelligence can do this and that. As I've already stated, "Explore Evolution" has simply dropped the "but intelligence can do it" label - i.e. point 3 of the EF.

So what, you may ask. Well, previous attempts at getting creationism into science class rooms have failed because creationism was deemed to be religion. The creationists then tried to have stickers inserted into biology text books claiming that evolution was not a fact, but merely a theory with several gaps. The Explore Evolution book seems to be one of those stickers, albeit a rather big one. Also, I'm about to make a prediction: ID creationists will, if Explore Evolution becomes accepted course material, insert stickers proclaiming point 3 of EF - namely that intelligence can explain everything they perceive that evolution can't. That sticker will effectively sum all of ID theory: ID can explain anything and everything - hardly the measure of a scientific theory.


At 1:49 PM, Blogger Inalienable Rights said...

I find it amazing that a book like "Explore Evolution" can be criticized by projecting what might be said about it in the future. Have you even read the book? It's very clear, very fair, very non-ID, and non-creationist.

In all the reading that I have done on both sides of the issue, the pro-evolution side is so flawed as to be outright laughable. I have actually found myself spontaneously chortling at the complete idiocy of some of the evolutionist's tortured logic.

Don't dismiss me as a wild-eyed crazy right-wing religious zealot. I was a solid Darwinist, ridiculing Creationism much like you. But as a scientist and skeptic, I continued listening to the discussion, and realized how completely flawed Darwin's theory was (to the point of feeling profound intellectual embarrassment). Drop your pre-conceived notions and look at the evidence. You will change your mind too.


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