The Bronx Blogger

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Bit of Satire

I've posted comments in the comment threads of a few blogs that have addressed the merits of teaching something called Intelligent Design theory.

Many people have a problem with how children learn about evolution in science class. They want children to learn about theories that challenge the idea that natural selection is responsible for all the variety and complexity of life on earth.

Intelligent Design is a theory that is often proposed for inclusion in science classes as a way of counter-balancing the theory of evolution through natural selection. It proposes that some rational agent, some intelligent being or mind, intervened in the history of life and somehow directed or added to the flow of natural evolution.

President Bush himself recently gave support to the teaching of Intelligent Design while he was answering reporters' inquiries about the controversial topic.

I have a somewhat nuanced position about it myself.

On the one hand, evolution through natural selection is a scientific theory that has established itself well beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, millions of people believe in either creationism or Intelligent Design, so it doesn't hurt to teach those theories in public school in the context of, "Here is what a lot of intelligent people believe, so what do you make of that?" However, creationism and Intelligent Design definitely should not be part of a science curriculum, especially in a public school, because neither theory is a scientific theory.

Explaining why Intelligent Design, or creationism, is in fact not a scientific theory is not hard to do. Even though Intelligent Design wants really hard to be a scientific theory, it doesn't come close to succeeding.

But explanations have a way of making people's eyes glaze over, especially when someone is predisposed to disagree with you.

So instead of offering an explanation of why Intelligent Design is an un-scientific theory, I will instead post a link to the following late-breaking news story:

Physicists Announce Breakthrough in Quest for Unified Force Theory

In case the link eventually grows stale, I've reproduced the article below.

This story puts into words far better than I could just why Intelligent Design doesn't pass muster as a scientific theory. And the photo that is used as an illustration is pretty good too.

I was directed to the story by a item posted by Glenn Reynolds on his blog, Instapundit.


Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leading institution of evangelical physics, a branch of physics based on literal interpretation of the Bible.

According to the ECFR paper published simultaneously this week in the International Journal Of Science and the adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

"We just want the best possible education for Kansas' kids," Burdett said.

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

"Let's take a look at the evidence," said ECFR senior fellow Gregory Lunsden."In Matthew 15:14, Jesus says, 'And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.' He says nothing about some gravity making them fall—just that they will fall. Then, in Job 5:7, we read, 'But mankind is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upwards.' If gravity is pulling everything down, why do the sparks fly upwards with great surety? This clearly indicates that a conscious intelligence governs all falling."

Critics of Intelligent Falling point out that gravity is a provable law based on empirical observations of natural phenomena. Evangelical physicists, however, insist that there is no conflict between Newton's mathematics and Holy Scripture.

"Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how."

"Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said. "What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.'"

Some evangelical physicists propose that Intelligent Falling provides an elegant solution to the central problem of modern physics.

"Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said. "And they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."

[from The Onion, August 17, 2005]