Sunday, March 12, 2006

Answers to creationism

Here is a great article, 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense. It is very well written, addressing many of the arguments creationists try to use to disprove evolution.

One of the more interesting parts was the discussion of observing speciation, the beginning of a new specie. Many of the arguments I've heard address the fact that we have never observed macro-evolution directly. Well, it seems that we have. A specie is defined as a group of organisms that reproduces exclusively within the group. There were experiments performed on flies showing that after enough generations of seclusion, a group of flies would not reproduce with the original group they were from. This was observed in a laboratory.

The most problematic aspect of intelligent design is the idea that it is a scientific theory. Science is the study of phenomena through natural processes. Invoking a higher intelligence to create life is supernatural by definition: the designer exists outside of nature. Furthermore, there is no evidence at all for a higher intelligence other than faith. Is it even possible to scientifically prove the existence of a being that exists outside of our space and time? Like I've said before, faith is absent from science. If we do take Intelligent Design as a scientific theory, it must hold up to the same scrutiny as all other scientific theory. As such, Intelligent Design has no real evidence to support it and is as valid as the geocentric model of the universe.

One thing I'd like to address quickly is the fundamental argument for Intelligent Design: life is too complex to have been created by natural forces. This argument is completely baseless. There are hundreds of examples of extremely complex patterns and structures being created by a few simple constraints. Genetic algorithms, computer programs that use a form of natural selection of data, can solve extremely complex problems from a set of requirements. This is analogous to organisms adapting to the requirements of their environment. Natural selection is one of the most powerful mechanisms we know of for creating complex results in a small amount of time.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Okay, I'm finally writing something about this article.

The problem with this sort of thing is that it is creating a false dichotomy between religion and science. Intelligent design supporters are forcing science to contradict religion when no contradiction is present. Science tells us what the laws of the universe are. We know that the sky is blue because light scatters from dust particles in the atmosphere at varying angles depending on the color of the light. We know that the Earth is 4 billion years old and the universe is about 13 billion years old. We know the universe began from what we call the Big Bang. We know that life adapts and evolves as a reaction to the environment. However, what science doesn't tell us is why. Why are these the rules of the universe? Yes, there was a Big Bang, but where did the energy come from that started it all? These are the answers that religion gives.

Religion says nothing about what the rules of the universe are, and science says nothing about why the rules of the universe are. You could even say they are complementary. A scientist searches for God's physical laws while a theologist searches for God's spiritual laws. Many religious figures see no contradiction, including the Pope, and more than 10,000 clergy from around the U.S. By teaching the children of our nation to question science everytime it seemingly contradicts religion, we are providing a massively inferior education than the rest of the Western world. I read an article a while ago, I wish I had a link, it showed that 85% of Europeans accepted evolution while less than 50% of Americans accepted it. It has become obvious to most anyone who cares that the U.S. is losing its edge in science research to the rest of the world, you can find some sort of article on the subject nearly every week. Unless we do something to stop the degradation in our nation's science education, we will soon find our selves trailing the world instead of leading it.