How can guardians of the status quo protect Darwinism from competition
in the classroom? One way is to play a definitional game, arguing
that intelligent design isn't science. They do this by claiming that
when a scientist argues that something in nature was designed, she
does so only because we're ignorant about the details of how it arose
naturally. Opponents of intelligent design call this an eliminative
argument from ignorance, one that should be banned from science
But when we examine Stonehenge, we infer design.
Is this an eliminative argument from ignorance? No. It's a reasonable
inference to the best explanation, based on what we know about the
features of designed things.
Consider the simplest
self-producing organism, a world of intricate circuits, miniaturized
motors, and enough digital code to fill an encyclopedia; or the
bacterial flagellum, a sophisticated outboard motor that needs all
of its parts in place to function at all.
These are to
Stonehenge what a gothic cathedral is to a Lego house. Design
theorists study the explanations for these engineering marvels and
choose the explanation that best accounts for the data - intelligent
Let's set aside definitional games and bogus appeals
to scientific consensus meant to shut down debate. In "The Structure
of Scientific Revolutions," historian of science Thomas Kuhn shows
that these are standard tactics for a dominant scientific paradigm
Instead of being distracted by such tactics, let's
allow teachers and students to follow the evidence wherever it
leads. At the beginning of the 21st century, that's where the real
scientific adventure lies.