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Why science shouldn't reject Intelligent Design theory

September 10, 2005|By Rev. Gerald A. Barr

To the editor:

Allan Powell's letter about "faith, science and the difference" in the Saturday Herald Mail merits reconsideration, because Dr. Powell has made some errors that skew his arguments and compromise his conclusions.

Dr. Powell states that the most obvious reason intelligent design (ID) is not appropriate for study is that it is not a theory "in any accepted meaning of that term." The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a theory as "the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another; a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation; an unproven assumption." ID certainly fits into that category, as does evolution.

Dr. Powell makes an error of logic in his argument. He begins with a presupposition - an idea that he assumes to be true without any real proof. His presupposition is that there is no intelligent designer, that the exquisitely complex and interrelated world that we see around us is a result of sheer random occurrences, and that the logical explanation for all that we see around us is evolution.

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That is, of course, his prerogative, he may begin with any presupposition he prefers. His error is that he then assumes that his unproven presupposition is the only possible one. This is arrogant and inconsistent on his part.

ID begins with a different presupposition - that the complex and interdependent creation we see around us is the result of an intelligence which deliberately planned it all. Some proponents of ID would indeed call the designer God; but others stop short of that identification. The point is that ID presents a possible explanation for the world around us, a bona fide theory despite Dr. Powell's assertion to the contrary.

Dr. Powell also asserts in his letter that ID is part of the "teleological argument for God's existence," which in Dr. Powell's mind automatically discredits the theory because he has presupposed that anything that is supported by religion or quoted by religious writers must be false. This is also arrogant and inconsistent; it is quite possible that religious, even Christian, people may observe facts around us and come to the correct conclusion about them.

The essence of true science is the search for truth, and anyone who sincerely wishes to know the truth will not rule out any possible explanation until it is proven absolutely to be false. If indeed an omnipotent creator, or an intelligent designer, is the ultimate cause of what we see around us, then true science would want to know that and would celebrate the discovery of that truth once it is proven.

If there is no creator, then science would celebrate that another false theory has been discredited. To this point, neither position has been proven scientifically.

It is sad that Dr. Powell and other philosophers and scientists make assumptions, assume those assumptions to be true and then try to deny any open discussion of competing theories. Why not present both possible explanations and let the future philosophers and scientists in our classrooms examine all possibilities? Is that not what true science is about?

Rev. Gerald A. Barr
Hagerstown

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