Is ID Science? Part 2

Is Intelligent Design Science? Part 2

Robert T. Pennock, a prominent evolutionist and philosopher of science at Michigan State University, testified on September 8 in the Harrisburg Pennsylvania trial with 11 parents against the Dover Area School District. Pennock testified, “As scientists go about their business, they follow a method; intelligent design wants to reject that and so it doesn’t really fall within the purview of science.” [1] In other words, Pennock said that evolutionists use the scientific method but intelligent design scientists do not.

In part 1 of this article, “Is Intelligent Design Science?” I used William Dembski’s formula of specified complexity to oppose the claim that intelligent design is not testable and therefore is not scientific. One can determine whether an object was designed by assessing its degree of specificity and complexity. DNA for example, which is both highly specified and complex is shown by Dembski’s formula to be designed. Using three examples I demonstrated that intelligent design is testable and is therefore scientific. Pennock takes the argument against intelligent design a step further by claiming that intelligent design does not make use of the scientific method.

Evolutionists define science as: Science is a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. This definition limits science to natural explanations. Therefore, despite the evidence, evolutionists declare supernatural causes to be religious.

This is another false claim. Whether the scientist is an evolutionist, creationist or one who identifies with the intelligent design group, the scientific methods are the same. No matter what the scientists’ beliefs are, the scientific methods of examining a specimen under a microscope, for example, are the same. What can differ however, is when the question of evolution and origins is addressed. An evolutionist may interpret the data as evidence for evolution while a creationist may see the evidence supporting intelligent design. Pennock is wrong; the “method” he refers to is used by evolution and intelligent design scientists.

Pennock made another claim in his testimony: “Even if one doesn’t specifically name God, . . . simply saying a supernatural being or power is involved makes intelligent design a religious concept.” [2] How can Pennock and other evolutionists come to this conclusion? The answer is in their definition of science.

The Kansas State Board of Education has gone to the root of the matter by dealing with the definition of science. The Kansas City Star states the majority definition of science, “Science is a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.” [3] This definition limits science to natural explanations; any supernatural explanation is deemed outside of science or, in other words, is religious. The Kansas State Board of Education members offered this alternative definition of science which states, “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.” This definition does not limit the explanation of the observed to the natural (i.e., there could be a supernatural explanation). This tolerant definition of science opens the door for all scientists, despite their beliefs about origins, to work as scientists and not have their work be relegated to “religion”.

[1] Raffaele, Martha [Web site]. (9/29/2005) `Intelligent design’ called Creationism.

[2] Anderson, Lisa [Web site]. (9/28/05) Reporters Agree to Testify in Evolution Case.

[3] Associated Press. Kansas City Star, (5/14/2005) A Look at Kansas’ Debate over Evolution, Defining Science.