Intelligent Design- Science or Pseudoscience?

Genesis tells the story of how God breathed life into Adam and fathered the creation of the universe. Creationists have always believed that life originated through such divine means and everything in nature was created in the image of God. But with the progress of scientific theory and the arrival of the Darwinian concept of Evolution, this view was soon termed unscientific and entirely philosophical.

Creationists regained popularity in recent times when they advocated a scientific theory that confuted Darwinism. This new theory is called the Intelligent Design theory. It proposes that the complexities of the universe are the result of purposeful creation by an intelligent designer. Creationists have categorically denied the Darwinian concept and have even urged for the inclusion of the ID theory in school science.

They have based their theory mainly on William Paley’s famous watchmaker analogy, which states that anything complex necessitates the existence of an intelligent designer, as does the complex inner workings of a watch.

The theory talks about Irreducible Complexity. It says that certain elements in nature could not have evolved from a simpler state as they cannot exist in any simpler form. It gives the example of the bacterial flagellum as an irreducibly complex system, as it cannot work without any of the 30 proteins that it is comprised of. In this, the theory attempts to confirm fallacies in the Darwinian notion of evolution from simpler forms. The theory also talks about Specified Complexity, which states that complexities in nature are not the result of chance. Michael J Behe and William Dembsky of the Discovery Institute, the think tank from where the idea of Intelligent Design originated, have given complex mathematical proofs in support of the ID theory.

The scientific community has, however, dismissed the theory as “inherently unscientific”, as it does not adopt the methods of science. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has called it “pure creationism in a pseudoscientific semblance”. Some have even called it junk science.

Scientists see it as a negative hypothesis. Something that is not a result of chance may not necessarily be designed, as they are not the only possibilities. Science, they say, requires a positive hypothesis. A theory based on elimination of alternatives proves nothing. Regarding Irreducible Complexity, scientists state that the elements that comprise presently complex structures may be functioning in other capacities previously. “They could have been serving other purposes when they were chosen as advantageous for their current function.” Moreover, Intelligent Design evasively ignores to define the being of the designer and thus is an open ended theory.

The Evolution vs. ID debate has surfaced a number of times in recent years, when schools have been asked to include the theory in the curriculum. Law has denied approval and termed Intelligent Design as a religious theory, unsuitable for science classes. Phillip E. Johnson launched the intelligent-design movement with his best-selling book, “Darwin on Trial” in 1991 and the movement has surprisingly gained widespread acceptance among common people. Proponents of Intelligent Design continue to believe that Darwinian pathways are not available for most complex biological structures.

But the fact remains that the ID theory lacks a scientific structure and is indefinite about its central proposition. It is based on hypotheses and elimination, which are unscientific techniques. The purpose of science education is to train young minds in the methods of science- observation and experimentation. The concept of Intelligent Design, though intellectually stimulating, fails to compete with Darwin’s comprehensive explanation of Evolution.

Udhav Sureka

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