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Conservative Christian Biologist Criticizes ID 16 Nov 2007

Posted by Jessa in Non-Science, Religion.
Tags: , , , ,

Mac Johnson, a molecular biologist and contributor to the conservative publication Human Events, points out that Intelligent Design is bad science, whose recent popularity is traceable to two factors:

One is that, even ten years ago, ID had enough confidence and honesty to go by its birth name, “Creationism.” Whereas today, it has been dressed up in a lab coat and a mail order Ph.D. and is trying to pass itself off as a scientific theory, thus the sudden re-branding as “Intelligent Design.”

I’m not sure if renaming creationism into something more euphemistic leads to an increase in popularity, but I agree with the general statement. It’s funny ’cause it’s true.

The other reason is that the mainstream media (and other spokesmen for the liberal establishment) love the idea of associating the conservative movement with ID, so ID has gotten much more than its fair share of press time.

The Left believes, correctly, that Intelligent Design is a political loser, and so they gleefully attempt to hang it around the neck of every right-of-center movement from libertarian neo-conservatism to isolationist populism — shouting all the while “See, the American Taliban has come for your children! Elect a Democrat before it’s too late!”

In truth, the proponents of ID are only a small part of the Conservative movement in America, and include many who have only instinctively supported the cause because it so eagerly casts itself as yet another victim of the very real leftist repression of religion in our nation’s public space.

I don’t think that the above statement is entirely true. While he is probably correct in his statement that many conservatives like ID because it is an explanation that is more in line with their religious leanings, I think ID proponents make up a much larger part of the conservative population than Johnson would care to admit. After all, studies have shown that as many as half of Americans believe in creationism. I can’t imagine that someone who believes the Genesis account would throw their support behind evolution over ID. So ID supporters are probably encompass a large portion of conservatives.

Now the criticisim:

So in light of the issue’s new prominence and with a desire to improve the mental hygiene of others, I would just like to say that Intelligent Design is a really, really bad idea –scientifically, politically, and theologically. I say this as a dedicated conservative, who has on many occasions defended and espoused religion and religious conservatism. I also say it as a professional molecular biologist, who has worked daily (or at least week-daily) for years with biological problems to which the theory of evolution has contributed significant understanding — and to which Intelligent Design is incapable of contributing any understanding at all.

Scientifically, attributing every aspect of biology to the arbitrary design of a divine tinkerer explains as much about biology as attributing the eruption of volcanoes to the anger of the Lava God would explain geology. A theory, by definition, makes predictions that can be tested. Intelligent Design predicts nothing, since it essentially states that every thing is the way it is because God wanted it that way.

This quote is a good summation of one of the basic problem with ID. Even if you set aside the fact that ID relies on the existence of God (erm, sorry, an “intelligent agent”), it still fails because it has no predictive power.

According to the mindset of ID leaves could have been green or they could have been blue. But God chose green because he was feeling a bit green that day. Or maybe he thought green would really bring out the color of Adam’s eyes; it’s hard to say really. But it definitely had nothing to with the unguided selection of the chlorophyll molecule to best utilize atmospherically filtered sunlight as an adenosine triphosphate producing energy source.

Biology (already burdened with the study of the most complex phenomenon known to man) is reduced by Intelligent Design to a meaningless cataloguing service for divine handicrafts. It can no longer seek to understand so much as a sniffle or a dandelion seed without endlessly recycling the same useless answer: must be how God wanted it!

And finally, some parting shots:

Intelligent Design is The DaVinci Code of Biology — an emotionally attractive conspiracy theory that seems to explain the most amazing facts and coincidences. But in the end, it’s just not true, and worse yet, it gets one no closer to God. That’s all fine for an entertaining diversion, but it’s a poor base upon which to build either a factual or theological worldview.

Intelligent Design is a bad idea, and the otherwise intelligent men that are espousing it would do well to re-examine their beliefs, before they corrupt both science and faith –and the amazing progress that conservatism has made during the last forty years.

Although I do not agree with Johnson on a number of points, this article was quite good. I hope it gives ID supporters some food for thought.



1. Steve Rosenbaum - 17 Nov 2007

I just have two questions about intelligent design maybe someone can answer. First it would seem that the more intelligent you were the more likely it would be that you design things with simplicity and elegance and not something as complex and fragile as a human.

Second, if you assume for a minute that intelligent design were true. What is the evidence for a single creator. Because of the vastness of everything and the likelihood there is a multiverse not just a universe, it would seem to be a better case for multiple creators. If each creator took charge of about a trillion square miles we’d need a few billion creators.

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