The Case for a Creator: Redefining Science

The Case for a Creator: Redefining Science July 12, 2010

The Case for a Creator, Closing Thoughts

The theory of evolution not only explains and unifies a vast range of scientific observations, it’s given rise to an enormous, fruitful research program by predicting where we should look in order to find all kinds of phenomena of interest. One of the most famous examples is how Charles Darwin predicted that the earliest human ancestors would be found in Africa, which turned out to be 100% correct. Based on observing flowers from Madagascar, Darwin also predicted the existence of a moth species with a startlingly long proboscis, and a moth matching his specifications was discovered. Evolutionary theory led paleontologists to inspect rocks of a certain age in a certain location to find tetrapod ancestors, and lo and behold, we dug up Tiktaalik roseae. Evolutionary theory enabled us to predict the likely characteristics of an ant ancestor, and we found a species preserved in amber that matched our expectations almost perfectly. Evolutionary theory illuminated the similarities between birds and dinosaurs, and feathered theropods continue to turn up at a dizzying rate.

Even today, evolution continues to guide researchers who are expanding our knowledge of the human genome. Because of evolution, we looked in yeast to find genes that build bodies, and we looked in sea cucumbers to find blood-clotting genes. Because of evolution, we found viruses with similarities to crucial genes in our immune system, and bacteria with family ties to the mitochondria that power the metabolism of each and every cell in our bodies, and apes and monkeys whose vitamin C synthesis gene is broken in exactly the same way as ours. Based on evolutionary reasoning, the first scientists to crack the genetic code worked under the assumption that it would be universal among life, and this too was correct.

These are bold, surprising predictions, which expand our knowledge of humanity even as they reveal our deep and intricate ties to the natural world. And without the overarching assumption of evolution, there was no reason to suspect any of them to be true. Yet they are true, and no other theory or hypothesis accounts for them so consistently and so well. By letting the principles of evolution and the scientific method guide us, we’ve enjoyed enormous success, and reaped the bounty of a rich harvest of knowledge about nature. We’ve also found no evidence whatsoever which confirms the existence of a supernatural creator. And when some people are losing, it’s little surprise that they want to change the rules of the game.

In chapter 9, Stephen Meyer sums up his argument as follows:

“Well, I say it’s time to redefine science. We should not be looking for only the best naturalistic explanation, but the best explanation, period. And intelligent design is the explanation that’s most in conformity with how the world works.” [p.243]

Please note the major concession: Strobel and his fellow-travelers aren’t doing science. They’re doing something else, and they want to “redefine” science so that the new definition can encompass whatever it is they are doing.

What’s curious about this statement is that although Meyer calls for redefining science, he never says what he wants the new definition to be. If they want to redefine science, how should the new definition differ from the old one? What activities will count as science that didn’t before? And once you conclude that “design happened”, then what? What predictions does the design hypothesis make about the structure of the world? Is there research that we can do to figure out the mindset, the abilities, the intentions of the designer? Can we know anything about him other than, perhaps, an inordinate fondness for beetles? If so, how?

Neither Meyer nor any other advocate of ID has ever attempted to answer these questions. If they’re so eager to establish a new, non-natural kind of science, why don’t they explain how it would work? More to the point, why don’t they just go ahead and do it? They don’t need anyone’s permission. If they could use their method to make verifiable predictions, they wouldn’t have to sit around trying to convince the rest of us. There would be incontrovertible evidence of their success.

The proof is in the pudding, but Meyer, Strobel and the rest are offering us nothing but thin gruel. They want us to discard the well-tested and massively successful framework of evolutionary theory and adopt their method instead, and promise vague but marvelous results at some unspecified future time. They come to us empty-handed, having done none of the necessary work, and expect us to take their claims on faith – even though the Discovery Institute’s sizable budget could easily support a well-equipped research division, and groups like the Templeton Foundation are openly seeking pro-ID research to fund. Clearly, the only reason they’re not doing science is because there’s no science in their ideas to be done. Like all creationists, they are intellectually bankrupt, and the “redefinition” they seek is to redefine scientific failure as scientific success.

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