Darwin, Design and KNME

By Joe Renick
Executive Director
Intelligent Design Network, New Mexico Division
As Published in the Albuquerque Tribune

The recent "flap" over KNME censorship of the outstanding science documentary "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" is just one more indication of the deep and pervasive naturalistic bias held by major institutions in our culture against any evidence that might suggest that a transcendent intelligence was responsible for the creation of the cosmos and of life.

The design-like features observed in biology such as the genetic code, information content of DNA, and the staggering complexity of the biological cell, have thus far eluded explanation on the basis of physics, chemistry and chance alone. These features, by their very nature, challenge Darwinism. There seems to be much more going on in the biological cell than chemistry and chance.

Design and Darwinism claim to provide fundamentally different explanations for the history of life and the origin of biological complexity and as such, lay the foundations for two opposing worldviews…theism and naturalism. Given present scientific knowledge, those who would pursue understanding of these ideas will become engaged in the most exciting intellectual adventure of our times…one that addresses the most central question of our existence…the nature of our origins. "Unlocking" brilliantly introduces us to that adventure.

I suggest that the true basis for censorship of "Unlocking" by KNME is ideological, not scientific, and certainly not concern over the possibility that someone might have the perception that KNME was endorsing the views of the producer and their Christian sponsors. A simple disclaimer could have easily dealt with the so-called perception problem. Citing a connection to Christian funding sources gave KNME a convenient "way out" without having to address either the ideological or scientific aspects of the issue.

But what if there was no Christian sponsorship of "Unlocking"? Is there a rationale that KNME could have used as a basis for their action? Of course there is. That rationale is found in a simple stereotype which is easily understood, frequently used, and false.

This stereotype is "ID is creationism in a lab coat". Fortunately, this stereotype, which is little more than "smoke and mirrors", can be easily dismantled and exposed for what it is…a disturbing misrepresentation of the nature of science.

The idea portrayed by "creationism in a lab coat" is that ID is creationism pretending to be science but without scientific content. But a cursory examination of the logic here shows that this is a religious argument based on implications, not a scientific argument based on the evidence. In fact, it seems that few if any arguments against ID are actually based on evidence.

The validity of a hypothesis or theory of science is established by the evidence. Everything else is pretty much politics and ideology…such as demonstrated by KNME in the present situation. The source of a hypothesis or theory of science, be it empirical observation, philosophical assumption, wild speculation, or even religious text is not what determines the status of an idea in science. Scientific status is established solely by the credibility of the evidence.

But what are we to make of the profound and unambiguous religious implications of ID? Does that fact suddenly change it into religion? No. And neither is Darwin’s theory transformed into a naturalistic ideology just because it has profound and unambiguous naturalistic implications.

I have argued that neither the source of a theory of science nor its implications determine its scientific status. However, there is a means by which a legitimate theory of science can be transformed into dogma and the teaching of that theory into indoctrination. That has to do with how the evidence is treated. If a theory or hypothesis of science, be it Design or be it Darwin, is protected from impartial critique in the full light of the evidence, and if alternative hypotheses rooted in empirical evidence are censored, then science becomes dogma, not science and teaching becomes indoctrination, not education.

KNME’s actions seem to be motivated by something other than the principles of empirical science. We should hope that our public schools do not follow their example.


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