Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another academic makes a case for intelligent design

Transcript of today's show:

A professor of internal medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia recently praised intelligent design theory to an audience of 100 colleagues. Professor John Marshall [pictured right] said that intelligent design fits the evidence of biology better than Darwin's theory of evolution. Marshall's audience, for the most part, criticized his ideas. John O’Connor, a water consultant and retired chairman of the MU Department of Civil Engineering, said: "I think intelligent design is a code word for God. I think that there’s no reason for us to mince around and pretend that that’s not really what" intelligent design "is trying to propagate." [source: Columbia Tribune]

Listen to the 1-minute broadcast of this story [mp3]

Sound Off: Science & Faith. Our point/counterpoint regulars Shelley (the voice of science) and Peter (the voice of faith), comment on the story.

The Voice of Science: Shelley Greene, Ph.D., comments:
As an evolutionary biologist, I feel obliged to correct Professor Marshall’s statement that intelligent design fits the evidence of biology better than Darwinian evolution. It is well known in the scientific community that intelligent design researchers have repeatedly sought to discredit accepted scientific theory. They have emphasized incomplete areas of scientific understanding as a proof of a hypothesis that an unseen Designer is the only way by which certain heretofore unexplained phenomena can be explained.

It appears that
intelligent design seeks only to poke holes in science while deftly dodging any outright alternate suggestions. What makes ID such a threat to science is what if we had used (as some indeed did) intelligent design to explain lightning, meteors, or eclipses as too complex to be understood by science?

When a scientific explanation for natural phenomena is still unproven by experimentation and the scientific method, this simply means there is more to be learned, not more to be explained. In the case of meteors, until after the Civil War, scientists believed that meteors were a weather phenomenon -- which is why weathermen to this day are called meteorologists! Imagine if science had just given up and said, "we don’t know what those streaks in the sky are -- they’re too complex for us to understand. But rest assured in knowing that they’re
intelligent designed."

The Voice of Faith: Peter Williamson, M.Div., comments:
It’s a far stretch of the imagination to equate intelligent design and religion. While some of its members are men and women of faith, the Discovery Institute and its research supporting intelligent design theory are in no way aligned with a religious group or practice. Their research is founded on sound scientific principles and methods. The fact that an increasing number of scientists from all disciplines are embracing intelligent design theory appears, unfortunately, to threaten die-hard Darwinists, who exhibit a characteristic orthodoxy not unlike the Vatican.