Thursday, April 17, 2008

Intelligent Design: The Bogosity Factor

Bogosity Factor: to make bogus or otherwise disprove. An idea is said to have a bogsity factor when a corresponding idea must also be accepted in order to be true, but that the implied assumption is so outlandish that it can not be accepted. An idea that has a bogosity factor is often notable by the appearance of being correct only to fall apart after close examination.

What is Intelligent Design (hence forth ID)? Does ID belong in the class room? Is ID a valid science? These are the questions I set out to answer today. Essentially, ID is a compromise between evolution and creationism. It takes the boring theory of evolution set forth by Charles Darwin in Origin of the Species, and jazzes it up with some divine goodness. ID is a new “scientific” theory that explains how life as we know exists today. To understand its rationale, we must revisit evolution and creationism.

The Theory of Evolution (in a nutshell).

1. Each generation of organisms is a random distribution of traits and abilities.
2. Too many offspring are born for all the creatures to survive; hence there is a struggle for survival.
3. Because of the variety of creatures, some species are better suited and survive while weaker organisms perish.
4. The surviving creatures breed, and their advantageous traits are inherited by their children.


1.God created the animals on earth, and each was given the tools they needed to survive indefinitely.
2. God created man in his own image, and gave man dominion over earth.
3. Thus, humanity is special, and unique from all life on earth.

The biggest problem creationists have with evolution is the implied conclusion that man is not special. Moreover, the idea that we are in fact quite similar to primates is repulsive to say the least. To teach evolution to children will diminish their conviction in God, and also their desire pray to God because there is no longer any reason to believe he is sympathetic to man’s emotions. Finally, evolution implies that God is completely inactive (relative to earth) and may not even exist at all. Ergo, we have controversy. Also note that creationists are aware that Charles Darwin was an atheist (like me), and suspect his motives for proposing his theory of evolution is of a sinister nature. They suggest that Darwin was actively trying to convert people to atheism, and that he improperly applied scientific rigor to his findings (or maybe outright falsified them). After all attempts to bring creationism into the science class have failed, a new theory has emerged which is neither evolution nor creation, but somewhere in between.

What is Intelligent Design (ID)?

ID is a math based argument to prove the existence of God by applying statistical theory to Darwin’s theory. ID accepts that animals are born with advantageous traits that prove to be beneficial to survival, and can also be inherited creating new species. However, ID points to the statistical likelihood of these adaptations occurring, and concludes that it can not occur by random chance alone because there is a vastly more probable that a species will not change at all. ID proponents argue the mathematical improbability of evolution is a bogsity factor, and so attempt to refine Darwin’s theory.

Intelligent Design
1. Organisms have a random distribution of traits and abilities.
2. Some of these traits are mathematically impossible to have occurred, yet they happened anyway. These traits are remarkably beneficial to the survival of these isolated animals.
3. Same as evolution.
4. Same as evolution.
5. Natural selection occurs, but only against insurmountable odds. We infer that an intelligent designer was responsible for this inexplicable result.

You see? Evolution isn’t random at all; it’s a miracle! We can also conclude that the intellect of man was adaptation caused by divine will. God created man, just not in the literal sense that the bible describes. This also clearly shows that God exists, and that there is an established moral law that we must follow; our greatest adaptation is thus the ability to define right from wrong. Remember kids, if you pray to God, and lead hardworking Christian lives, your children may be the lucky few to have laser vision or the ability to create storms with their minds!

Wait! What’s wrong with ID? Isn’t it a fair compromise to both sides?
1. Evolution can occur naturally, it is not a mathematical impossibility.
2. Even if it were shown to be mathematically impossible, it’s bogus to say “GOD DID IT!”
3. The theory is untestable. It implies that the process is invisible and undetectable. We can never disprove ID.

Evolution IS mathematically possible mainly because of time; the earth is well over 4,000,000,000 years of age. It doesn’t matter how unlikely something is in any one generation; the sheer number of trials is enough to give you a reasonable chance of it occurring. For 1 billion years, life on earth was exclusively single celled organisms. The jump to organisms with multiple cells was extremely unlikely. That’s why it took so much longer than any other adaptation. The dinosaurs were around for are about half that amount of time, and dinosaurs are divided into 3 time periods based on physiology.

Saying that you’ve proven something to be so mathematically unlikely to have occurred, and that therefore we have obvious proof of a creator is absurd. It’s the same as when someone survives a near death experience, and becomes a born again believer. Even the deadliest of cancers have a survival rate, just because it was extremely unlikely that you’d be one of the minority that survives doesn’t upset the balance of things so greatly that you have proof of God’s love. Just because a plague has a 99% mortality rate is no basis for believing that a divine being is saving the other 1%.

Obviously, since I believe this theory is false, I can not agree to have this theory taught along side evolution in the science class. What would it take to convince me that ID actually occurs? Well, I’d have to think about that….

ID Experiment

Our goal is to find some clue that a creative intelligence is actively assisting in the evolution of life on earth. According to ID, the impossible is in fact possible because God makes it possible. However, survival is ultimately linked to the environment that a species lives in. Therefore, we should be able to test for God’s will by drastically altering the needs for survival of a species, and if any members of that species survive by unnaturally rapid adaptation, we infer that God took action to save this species.

1. Collect a normal population of rabbits. 1 million to be exact.
2. Take the rabbits to the middle of the ocean, and drop them off. This will be their new environment that they must adapt to in order to survive.
3. Provide just enough assistance for one generation of new rabbits to be born.
4. Appeal to a creator to save the bunnies. Maybe light a candle or something.
5. Observe results (aka the glory of God’s creation).

Evolution: These rabbits will die because they can’t possibly make the adaptations necessary to survive in only one generation. Note that evolution takes thousands of years, if not millions.

Creation: These rabbits will die. They simply weren’t designed for this. Note that these two theories finally agree on something!

Intelligent Design: One male and one female will be born with gills, flippers, or any other combination of adaptations that obviously increase the odds of survival. Note that I’ll take a wide variety of adaptations, including poisonous fur (for protection from predators of course), as proof of an act of God

ID makes the prediction of divine assistance in the survival of species around the earth. According to ID, even the impossible should take place. Once we have established that the survival of species is based on miracles, it would be perfectly fine to teach this theory to school children.

How would an ID theorist…cough cough, creationist, cough, cough… respond to my experiment?

Why Rabbits?
I’m trying to give ID a fair shot here. If anything can breed fast enough to survive this experiment, it would be rabbits.

You can’t just summon God to act whenever you want?
Well, that’s my point actually. No one can prove God doesn’t exist, can they? No one can prove that any given event isn’t a miracle, can they? This theory will always be safe eternally because no one can disprove it due to the intangible nature of divine beings. That is the bogosity factor behind ID. Saying that ID is just as valid as evolution simply because it is possible is absolutely bogus! The burden of proof lies with the proponents of a scientific theory. It is there responsibility to prove the existence of God. We shouldn’t assume God exists just because we can’t prove otherwise. We can’t put someone in jail because they can’t prove their innocence, but because we have proven their guilt. Theories that can’t be tested don’t have any place in the science lab.

But evolution can’t be disproved either, just like ID.
Yes it can. A single out of place fossil would shatter everything for evolutionists! When I say out of place, I mean in terms of time. The earth is formed in layers, and we age fossils according to their place in the sand. If so much as one fossil was found in a place it wasn’t supposed to be, we would know Darwin screwed up. There are thousands of fossils, and evolution is still standing tall. Just because creationists can’t find a way to attack evolution, doesn’t mean it’s invincible. Every new find is a potential threat to Evolution.


Making a compromise only makes sense if the two opposing sides are equally matched. Evolution has a title wave of evidence backing it up where as creationism makes vague observations which apparently are miracles. Evolution is accepted around the world by modern nations. The southern states of the US are the last refuge of creationism. Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, and even mainstream Protestants have accepted evolution as an explanation for the “How.” They understand that the purpose of a religion is to provide a “Why.” I think the Buddha himself put it best. One day he was being pressured by a monk to lay out how the earth was created, but the Buddha was reluctant. The monk insisted that a religion ought to tell people how the earth was created. The Buddha explained that having a creation myth is unnecessary. Demanding a creation myth before embracing the teachings of Buddhism would be as ridiculous as a man who had been wounded by a poison arrow, but refused any and all aid until he knew who had shot him, and which village he came from. Adam and Eve is fundamentally a story that teaches people about the danger of temptation. The moral listen is worth teaching by itself; it doesn’t matter whether or not it ACTUALLY happened!
In conclusion, a religion should be judged on the merits of its moral teachings rather than the believability of its creation story, and therefore the creationist effort to bring their religion into the science room is a waste of their time.

/end of rant/

"There is nothing more dangerous than a man who thinks he's right with God."
-Malcom Reynolds


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