28 November 2005

ID is as old as the hills

Scientists do not welcome teaching ID in science classes for the simple reason that, apart from NOT being science at all, it is a totally made-up construct built with the intent of sneaking religion in the science classroom by presenting it as a plausible scientific theory. 
—Ugo Cei, on the Dilbert Blog

That one’s easy to knock on the head at least. Wait for it… ID is older than Darwinism. It’s known as the teleological argument for the existence of God, and can be formulated as follows (I’m quoting the Wikipedia article):

  1. X is too complex to have occurred randomly or naturally.
  2. Therefore, X must have been created by an intelligent being.
  3. Y is that intelligent being.
  4. Therefore, Y exists.

In fact, the more cautious ID people would only go as far as step 2 above, and make no claims about which Y is that intelligent being (the FSM enters the argument at step 3, and as such, as I said a couple of days ago, is irrelevant.)

And the Wikipedia article also notes that Cicero (106 BC-43 BC - note BC) made one of the earliest teleological arguments:
When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells the time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence, when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers? (Gjertsen 1989, p. 199, quoted by Dennett 1995, p. 29)
Just to put that in context, Darwin first proposed the theory of natural selection in 1858. That’s nearly 2000 years after Cicero. There is nothing new or made up about ID. It is only a modern formulation of an extremely old idea; and if people keep shouting at the proponents of ID that they are only making it up in order to force religion into the science classroom, it’s no wonder they become indignant. The least we can do is have the common courtesy to acknowledge that the theory they are espousing is far, far older than anything that upstart Darwin ever thought of.

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