I was reading an article in Popular Mechanics, which is basically a Q & A with Bill Nye the Science Guy about whether evolution should be taught in schools. It highlights major misunderstandings that many in science have, including Mr. Nye, regarding the role of science, and the theory of intelligent design.
In the article Mr. Nye bemoans the fact that a recent survey showed “only 28% of teachers taught evolution as a well-supported fundamental idea of science”. This actually surprised me, because I thought far more teachers were toeing the line, and were teaching what they learned in their biology books years earlier. The survey also showed that 13% of teachers taught Intelligent Design exclusively, and 60% are somewhere in between. He characterizes this as “horrible”, saying “Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back”.
This is misunderstanding number one. How can he say that those in the Intelligent Design community are not doing science. There is nothing inherent in science that says those practicing it must ignore a supernatural cause if that’s where the evidence points. Science should follow the evidence where it leads, and it does seem that on the really tough questions the evidence points to something beyond blind, random chance. Current scientific theories would have you believe that life started out of nothing–from molecules bumping together in a primordial soup. Amino acids got together to create proteins, and so on. This might have seemed plausible before we understood how incredibly complex even the simplest cells are. This all sounded good before we discovered that DNA is a computer-like code containing specified information to run a cell and build organisms.
Another misunderstanding of folks like Bill Nye is that those who support Intelligent Design do not believe in natural selection. We all all are on board with the idea that there can be small changes within a species that allow it to better adapt to its environment. What there is little evidence for is how random, undirected chance could account for the wholesale changes needed to create a complex system like an eye, let alone all of the amazing structures that work together within a single cell.
With what we know today, you can’t eliminate the possibility of an intelligent agent behind it all. There is too much evidence of design. It would be like a detective who walks into a room with a dead body. It’s riddled with bullet holes, and there is a path of bloody foot prints heading out the door. He is told by his supervisor he needs to determine the cause of death, but he has to limit his theories to a natural cause. In other words, he cannot infer an intelligent agent (i.e. murder). This is how the current view of science ties the hands of those who practice it. Ironically, even Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and staunch atheist, has to admit that design is apparent in the natural world, even if he can’t admit it is designed. In his book The Blind Watchmaker he states “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
I agree with Bill Nye on one thing. Evolution should be taught in school, just as ID should be. They are both scientific theories for the origin of life. Let’s encourage the teaching of both side by side. Students can then decide for themselves what best explains the origin, complexity and diversity of life.
Signature in the Cell ~ DNA and the Evidence for Design ~ Stephen C. Meyer
The Cell’s Design ~ How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry – Fazale (Fuz) Rana