Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, keeps poking his nose in the Intelligent Design (ID) debate. I welcome such poking but he keeps getting soundly beaten by our dear friend PZ. Rightly so. I’ll take my own crack at Mr. Dilbert. He says:
But I have to wonder if thatâ€™s the real reason most scientists oppose including it in schools. I would expect scientists to welcome such a clear model of something that is NOT science, as an example of exactly that.
â€œKids, astronomy is science and astrology isnâ€™t. Here are some more examples of things that arenâ€™t science…â€
Sure, it might confuse the dumb kids, but they arenâ€™t the ones building the spaceships of tomorrow anyway. I learned about not using “ain’t” in English class and that didn’t hurt me too much. So it just seems fishy to me that scientists are so worked up about Intelligent Design.
I don’t think any scientists or educators are opposed to stating very clearly in class that Intelligent Design is complete and utter nonsense. I think they would happily teach that ID is not science. That is not at all what the debate is about. The debate is about whether we should teach ID as an alternative explanation of human origins. Mr. Dilbert does us all a disservice when he acts surprised that this offends us. Of course it offends us and of course we should keep that mystical crap out of science class. Nothing too confusing about this at all, except perhaps to Mr. Dilbert.
3 thoughts on “Scott Adams vs. PZ”
Maybe there’s a subtlety that you’re not recognizing. Please excuse me though, I am not particularly well read on the subject. I have a lot of Christian friends that I debate this with but I usually take your side. Reading your post sparked me to want to challenge you a bit; maybe if only to stick up for them a little. Maybe I still hold out a little bit of hope for a deity much like a 10 year old hopes that his friends are wrong when they say there is no Santa Claus.
Here’s the subtlety…
Evolution is a scientific fact, no question. I’m with you there. My religious friends even agree. What I hear from them is that they believe that humans are not 100% directly a result of evolution. They say; “where’s the missing link?” Why aren’t there species that are somewhere in-between humans and animals? Humans are so much more intelligent than animals, so much more capable of manipulating their environment, contemplating the infinite, understanding the mechanisms of life itself, shit, creating life for that matter. What they say is evolution absolutely explains 99.9% of nature but there is something different about a human that is the result of a divine intervention. We were made in the image of our creator. The rest of creation is there for us, the animals of the land and the sea, etc., etc. I would also have to say that while they accept evolution, they believe that it was evolution that was designed, implemented and shepherded by a higher power.
So, if humans are, as some believe, a result of some degree of divine intervention, or if there is even a possibility that this may be the case, should it not be mentioned in a science class instead of simply stating “Humans are a result of Darwinian evolution, that’s it, no argument, end of class, better get it right on the test.” In other words, forget what your parents and your priests have taught you Johnny, they’re wrong, you evolved from a monkey.
Now, I’m not saying I’m with the IDs here, just saying that it’s an interesting debate and I’d like to hear your take on it.
Thank you for your comment. I think there is some subtlety here that you are missing. The “mystical crap” is stated specifically in the context of the field we call science. We don’t teach *any* mystical crap in science class, we just teach science. When people try to introduce mystical crap into the field of science or the science classroom, we take offense.
I do not in any way, shape or form mean to insult people with a belief in God or a belief that God interacts with the physical world. The vast majority of these people do not think we should insert the Bible into science class. It is only the narrow group of people who think science has a responsibility to teach their religious myths who I intend to insult.
If someone’s argument is that science should embrace a theory of a supernatural creator, then they are wrong and I am right, and their position can accurately be described as mystical crap. There are not two valid sides in this debate.
On the other hand, there is a debate of wider scope (i.e. a non-scientific debate) where one can argue arguments such as you mention. I agree, certainly we don’t know everything and there is value in contemplation and speculation. People confuse this wider debate, in which there is not clear right and wrong, with the very narrow debate of the scientific context. In that context, there is no debate, the IDiots are wrong. There is no alternative scientific theory to evolution! This is a fact. ID is not a scientific theory, nor can it be a scientific theory, because it has, at its heart, the whims of a supernatural deity. Science does not and cannot have theories based on the whims of supernatural deities.
First off, I’m no defender of the wack religious right. I’m pretty much a-religious but…
I think you make a problem for yourself when your argument is that the other guys position is “mystical crap.” Some people actually believe in some form of ID and you will never win an argument with them if you just dismiss it out of hand. You do a lot of preaching to the choir but I don’t see how that furthers your point of view.
I’ve always contended that the most dangerous human is the human that thinks, no, not thinks, knows he is absolutely right about everything. Islamic Jihadists, Spanish Crusaders of the Inquisition, the KKK, the Nazis come to mind.
Now please, I’m not at all comparing you in any philosophical way to any of these heinous groups, I know you to be a fine individual. What I mean is sometimes I detect this “intellectual incest” on both sides of the debate that does nothing to further either cause. It just alienates the sides from one another.
If your goal is to sway opinions, maybe you shouldn’t start by categorizing the opposing position as “mystical crap.” If your goal is just to rally everyone who thinks as you do, keep doing what you’re doing.
You know, there are plenty of pretty smart people who believe in a god, a creator, that there is some order in the universe and that our lives are not just random. Are they really just stupid, ignorant, fearful or a combination of all three? Or is there maybe, just maybe, a chance that there is more to the universe than what we can see, feel, and prove via scientific method?
I’ll take the humble position that the physical world, the universe, whatever is beyond the universe, is at least for now, beyond the complete understanding and comprehension of any man. I think it might be at least a little bit arrogant to think otherwise. But, I’m open for debate.