Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Taken to Task over the 'Supposed Controversy'

Someone recently pointed out to me that the subtitle of my blog  ("A blog about Evolution and the supposed controversy with Intelligent Design") makes it impossible for an Intelligent Design Proponent to get a fair hearing from me.  Are they right?

I certainly hope so, which sounds kinda mean.  But seriously, I would say the same thing is Astrologers were demanding time in the Astronomy class or Numerologists wanted to be included in a Mathematics textbook.  I don't see anyone complaining about that, do you?

Before addressing the idea directly, I want to talk for a minute about the subtitle.  The contention, as I am sure you realize, is about the word 'supposed'.  When I started this blog in 2007 the main issue was that there was no scientific controversy.  That was my point then, the question is does the point still hold true?  I believe that it does.  If there was a scientific controversy, where is all the science that should be supportive of Creationism/Intelligent Design?  Where are the hosts of scientists leaving evolution and joining Creationism/Intelligent Design?  Where are the articles using Creationism/Intelligent Design to explain actual scientific work?  To date what has been presented over and over again by folks like Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and especially the Discovery Institute seems to fall into two categories.

The first category, and the one that originally surprised me the most, had nothing to do with supporting their own ideas but trying to tear down current science. Frequent attacks on evolution appear to outnumber any effort to support their own position to the order of 10 to 1.  That's a rough estimate because I never sat down to count them up, maybe someone else has.  But by far the majority of the documents, articles, and posts concerning these topics try and attack evolution in many ways.

Now I was always taught that if you want to get an idea across -- first support your idea!  That applies in just about anything, not just science.  If I come up with something new at work, in the IT field, before trying to implement it, I have to support why it's a worthwhile consideration, how it's going to work and why it's better than how we are currently doing it.  This takes a great deal of time an energy, but the payoff is where it all counts.  If all I do is attack the current methodology without a viable alternative, then all I do is sound like I am whining.  Sound familiar?  How often has the request for Creationist/Intelligent Design proponents to stop marketing and go back to the lab and do the actual scientific work been asked?  More often than I bet most of us realize.

Obviously the second category is work that actually supports their own ideas.  The problem has been that they don't seem to be able to have any actual science in it.  They do no lab work, they make no effort to substantiate their ideas other than philosophically, they even have a hard time explain their ideas in any usable form (Design Inference anyone?).  Scientific theories are not born overnight, there is a long and often bloody (figuratively) path from conception to becoming a theory.  The path is littered with concepts that failed quickly to others that stood briefly in the light until they too shriveled up and fell to the wayside.  All the way the hypothesis gets tested, refined, tested, and further refined as it becomes more focused and stronger.  My question is where is this path for Creationism/Intelligent Design?  They formed an idea and immediately demanded the right to be the equal of an actual scientific theory.  When that didn't work, they formed other ideas to try and end run every decision that went against them.  Creationism led to Creation Science which gave way to Intelligent Design . . . but where is the scientific work that should be accompanying it?  I haven't seen it, have you?  They've also formed other tactical ideas, like "Teach the Controversy" and "Strengths and Weaknesses" to name just two.  But do you see what's missing?  Lawyer-ing word games and appeals to conservatives do not a theory make!.

There is the rub!  I will continue to call this a 'supposed' controversy partly because of the lack of science.  The other reason is that I believe the whole idea of a controversy is made up to make people think there is a scientific controversy.  There is a cultural debate, there are arguments at school boards, there are even legislative efforts.  But when it comes to a real controversy, the Creationism/Intelligent Design side simple doesn't have it -- but the marketing side of Creationism/Intelligent Design is hard at work wanting you to think there is one.

Why would they do such a thing?  I would think it's pretty obvious at this point.  If you think there is one, you have offered them a legitimacy in your mind's eye that they have failed to earn in the real world.  It's human nature to automatically think two sides of an actual controversy have some sort of equality.  So convincing you that there is a controversy implies that they are actually in contention for the biology crown, so to speak.  The reality is they are poor pretenders and without the support of people who share their religious beliefs, they haven't got a prayer (pun intended).  So they are trying to convince people of an artificial controversy, that being fair means that their idea have merit, or that it's a violation of academic freedom and free speech if they are not offered a place at the science class lectern.  What this fake controversy does is give them a leg up in the cultural debate, one they have yet actually earned.

I try and be pretty clear and I think the subtitle of my blog shows it.  Am I prejudiced against Creationism/Intelligent Design?  You bet I am.  Until they do the work to deserve consideration as science, we should all be prejudiced against Creationism/Intelligent Design!  If you are not, then you might look at your own motivations.  Do you share the same religious convictions and that automatically grants them some sort of consideration?  Have you found what no one else has managed to find actual science hidden in the depths of the religious and marketing materials?  Or are you bending over backwards to give the illusion of fairness to ideas that have yet to earn it?  You might peek under the covers, because they isn't much there for you to see.

Some have told me that I am close-minded on the subject.  I disagree.  Close-mindedness is when you are face-to-face with the evidence, you refuse to consider it.  I have been waiting for the evidence, I have been asking for the evidence, I have read and researched for years for some actual evidence.  Their failure to provide any doesn't mean I am close-minded, it means they have to do the work first.  Which to me seems like a fair and reasonable approach.  Their efforts to date mean they do not deserve a place at the science table, their controversy is non-existent, and the future doesn't look very promising for them. 

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