The Instigator
evansands
Pro (for)
Winning
63 Points
The Contender
sammer_the_hammer
Con (against)
Losing
9 Points

Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/19/2007 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,172 times Debate No: 693
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (24)

 

evansands

Pro

Intelligent Design is a much of a scientific theory as sleeping is a sport (this isn't my point of contention, mind you). By any reasonable account of science, ID fails to qualify as a scientific theory.

First, I look to Karl Popper's account of science for support. Popper's principle contribution to the philosophy of science is the concept of falsification; that is, a proposed theory must have the capable of refutation. Theories that escape refutation are not necessarily unhelpful or even incorrect, they are simply not scientific. To wit: a proponent of a theory must specify what evidence would cause him or her to abandon a theory. While ID is in principle falsifiable (every "gap" in evolution could be theoretically filled and thus the mechanism of natural selection could explain how every species that ever existed came to be), it is not in practice. The ID supporter will simply make ad hoc modifications for their theory to escape refutation (this is not always a bad thing, but in the case of ID, it is). For example, once the mammalian eye was shown to be capable of developing via natural selection (likely methods have been put forth), the ID proponent will simply switch focus, claiming that another feature of life can only be explained by invoking a supernatural designer.
Thomas Kuhn's account of science is also helpful for the purpose of this discussion. Kuhn suggests that a theory is only scientific if it works within a framework that gives rise to "puzzles" to solve. The rules of the framework must be strict enough for a theory to give rise to problems to be pursued (so research can be performed). ID gives rise to no such problems. It makes no predictions of its own. The deft reader might notice that this ties into my first point because a theory must make predictions that, if they fail, will lead to refutation of the theory, e.g. if my theory of astronomy predicts that the moon will turn into a frog every November, come November, my theory will be falsified because of its failed prediction. For a less absurd example, consider Einstein's prediction that stars near the sun would appear to have been slightly shifted because their light had been curved by its (the sun) gravitational field. Eddington's famous solar eclipse experiment confirmed Einstein's prediction. Had Einstein's prediction failed, the validity of general relativity would been severely undercut (if not entirely falsified). The point is that general relavity makes predictions that can tested, which ID fails to do.
Also, ID is negative theory. Again, it makes no predictions of its own, so it is not a positive theory. ID is essentially a theory against evolution and nothing more.
Finally (sorry I must resort to such sophomoric transitions), even if a supernatural force made certain features of nature "irreducibly complex," how would we test this hypothesis? There is no way to test (and therefore verify) if ID is correct. The ID proponent must simply appeal to a supernatural force when a feature in the phylogenetic tree of life has not been explained (as a side not, ID supports often confuse what is unknown with what is unknowable).

ID lacks the aforementioned qualities and is therefore not scientific. With this in mind, pray tell, how is ID a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution, as its most vocal supports assert?
sammer_the_hammer

Con

Seeing as the entire argument of my opponent is based on a very simple premise, that of the apparent lack of refutability of the theory of intelligent design, it is my primary objective to prove that in fact within the construction of said theory their is a great deal of scientific refutability; further I will prove that it is in harmony with current scientific practice.

Please excuse my verbosity. That was quite the long sentence.

1. My first argument is that many currently accepted scientific theories are based only on observable data and cannot necessarily be tested, particularly geological and astrophysical theories. For example, there is no way for anyone to prove or disprove the theories of what comprises the earths core, or what really happens at the event horizon of a black hole. We can only theorize what is going on based on our observations of the world around us. Similarly, just as we can theorize that the core of the earth is made of super-condensed super-heated metals based on the gravitational and magnetic fields of the earth, many natural phenomenon are explainable through the theory of intelligent design.

2. Additionally, as in my opponents opening statement, there is already proof of part of the theory being possibly refutable, given with the example of the advanced eye. By theorizing that it is the result of intelligent design, which is a logical conclusion considering the complexity and placement, it is also apparently not above refute to come back with a theory from the evolutionist view that there are in fact ways for the eye to evolve as it is known today.

3. Finally, the theory of intelligent design stretches to cover more than simple biological matters. That is only part of a greater theory that involves the creation of the entire universe, pre-dating in even the Big Bang in as much as the laws of thermodynamics forbid the creation of something from nothing, unless we accept the idea of an all powerful creator to provide the initial mass and energy. In this respect, no theory is truly refutable because of our limited ability to perceive the universe. We cannot see past the beginning of time, no matter how we stretch, or even to the Big Bang because of our limitations of our technology and data. Therefore even a well held theory such as the Big Bang is irrefutable in its very nature, yet still founded in scientific principles of observation and logical conclusion.
Debate Round No. 1
evansands

Pro

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my debate. I apologize for not responding sooner; I was busy completing other work last night.

Unfortunately for your side of the debate, my entire case doesn't hinge of falsificationism. You failed to address Kuhn's account of science, so I'll assume you concede that ID fails in this regard. ID, I still maintain, does not give rise to testable predictions.

Your first contention actually serves my case quite well. Just because we can't observe something directly (like the center of the earth) does not make it unscientific; I agree with this. However, the point for my case is that ID makes no predictions that could be tested. It's framework is not strict enough to give rise puzzles to solve. Evolutions framework, in contrast, is very strict. Evolution dictates that we all have a common ancestor (which is a king-size risky prediction that could be refuted) and that every creature evolved through natural selection. This paradigm gives rise to millions of puzzle's to solve. If these puzzle's can't be solved (for example, if we found a human skeleton in the Cambrian), evolution would be in trouble and could possibly be falsified. If the earth's core is made of super-condensed and super-heated metals, then we expect to calculate certain gravitational and magnetic fields. If these calculations suggest that the earth's core is not made of hot metals, the theory that the earth's core is made of hot metals fails. There are predictions made that we can test using other scientific theories, like gravity in this particular instance. A better example you could have cited would be string theory, which has yet to make any testable predictions, so there is no empirical evidence for string theory. However, sting theory solves incredible conceptual problems (namely unifying classic and quantum physics), that's why it's held onto. Also, the calculations themselves are refutable. Even so, there is a strong case to be made that string theory is not scientific at this point. Once it becomes testable and makes predictions, then it will cross into the realm of science. So, with this in mind, how could we possibly test the theory of ID. What predictions does it make? ID simply says that evolution is wrong because it has gaps (which are slowly closing). This is simply a negative theory that makes no predictions of its own.

Your second point fails to address my concern with the unscientific tendency of ID proponents to simply switch features that are supposedly "irreducibly complex" to salvage their theory. Scientist have shown that the eye could have developed through purely naturalistic mechanisms (http://www.pbs.org...), so the ID supporter need only switch to a different feature that appears in life, like the commonly referenced bacterium flagella (which has also been shown to develop through natural selection--http://rnaworld.bio.ku.edu...). The issue is that the history of life is profoundly large, so there will always be examples that appear in nature that science has yet to explain. Once again, ID supporters confuse the unknown (e.g. how the first cell evolved) with the unknowable (e.g. what happens after we die?). ID proponents resort to a tactic often used by creationist. The so-called gaps in the fossil record can never be entirely filled because every gap that is filled opens of two more gaps. For example, if I show that species B is the intermediate species between species A and species C, the creationist will simply say that there is a "missing link" between species A and the newly discovered species B. As you can see, this can go on forever. My point is that although ID is in principle entirely falsifiable, it is not in practice. For as long as we are alive and for many generations thereafter, not every feature of life will be explained. This is perhaps an impossible task. Again, you failed to address the fact that ID is unscientific because it is a theory that, in practice, escapes refutation. The ID proponent must specify what would cause them to abandon their theory as refuted, but they cannot. To say that they will only accept ID as falsified once every feature of life is entirely explained is absurd. Imagine if I salvaged my moon frog theory by ad hoc modifications. I could say that the moon didn't turn into a frog because the weather in November was too warm, and the year after I could claim that it rained too much. Eventually, I would exhaust every variable and my theory would be falsified, but that doesn't make my moon frog theory scientific.

Issues concerning what became before the big bang are not scientific. They are philosophical. If we were arguing about the God as first cause concept, I would argue that this is unscientific because it isn't falsifiable. This doesn't make this discussion unimportant, but merely unscientific. You claim that ID is broader theory that attempts to explain the universe. How could we test that God created the universe? I believe in God and think He created the universe, but this is not a scientific theory. The Big Bang, on the other hand, is scientific because it makes predictions that could fail. For example, the Big Bang theory predicted that their would be some heat left in the universe as a result of ionized plasma cooling to form neutral hydrogen and thereby allowing space to become transparent to light. This is precisely what was found: cosmic microwave background radiation of the temperature 2.725 Kelvin is everywhere the universe. The specific science, for the purpose of this debate, is unimportant. The point is simply that if this prediction failed, the Big Bang theory would be undercut and close to falsification because the Big Bang theory mandates that this radiation exists. More failed predictions would lead to falsification. So, you are categorically incorrect to say that the "Big Bang is irrefutable in its very nature." It makes predictions that could fail and is therefore scientific. What predictions does ID make? The rest of your third contention is irrelevant to this debate. You write "no theory is truly refutable because of our limited ability to perceive the universe," which is outrageously off topic. If you want to talk about the nature of the brain (as well as it's ability to provide humans with accurate information) or whether our senses are reliable, we can do that in another debate, but that has nothing to do with whether ID is scientific.
sammer_the_hammer

Con

oh ok.

I didn't really have any argument to make, I was just tryiing to take up this torch. This dead, dead torch.

Seriously, its like trying to prove that salt is sweet, or that Socks could justifiably be considered an alternative energy source. It can't be done. well, not logically anyhow.

So, for the sake of argumentation, logic can be set aside. for now...

God created science. therefore, in his infinite wisdom (which coincidentally he makes known to me) anything He does desire shall be known as science, despite conventional practice. By this irrefutable doctrine of indirect omniscience, I win.

Right guys? Right?
Because I'm trying to convince voters here. VOTE FOR ME!
Debate Round No. 2
evansands

Pro

Yes, your side is hard to argue because its incorrect. At least you gave it try, though. I appreciate it.
I'm not going to really respond to your last "point" because it's not relevant (as I'm sure you know--I understand that your not being serious). But here are a few things to say in the event that any voter is persuaded by whatever idea your trying to get across.
(1) We can't presuppose the existence of God in a debate. For example, if we were debating the issue of global warming, I couldn't just say God doesn't allow global warming and expect this to be considered as a valid point. You can't appeal to God because not everyone believes there is one. If I could make this point, the debate would have to turn to the question of God to determine if my point was valid. So, it may even be true that God doesn't allow global warming to take place, but its a contention that can't enter a secular debate. If these points could be made, no debate could be unified under a resolution, which is necessary for exploring a given topic.
(2) I'm not sure if God "created" science. God created things to be observed and studied, and people to do perform these tasks, but it doesn't seem like he invented the practice of science. Science is just something humans do, and, as far as I can tell, WE created it as a way to learn things about our world.
(3) If their is an all-knowing God, He couldn't claim that any thing he desires is science. This is logically impossible because science is a certain type of practice. God could not, for example, say that bachelors are married men because married men are necessarily not bachelors. He could define the term "bachelor" differently, but then it wouldn't matter because were talking about a different word. So even if God did change the definition of science to make it everything he desires, it wouldn't matter for the purpose of this debate because I'm talking about science as it's currently understood and defined, not in the future sense of the word, after God has manipulated the definition.
Consequently, even if I considered your wildly off topic contention relevant to this debate, it still fails for the second and third reasons.
Finally, even if you were to successfully argue against the points I just made, it shouldn't affect the vote because it's not under the scope of the resolution. I think I clearly demonstrated that Intelligent Design is not science; therefore, I win.
sammer_the_hammer

Con

yeah yeah yeah. Ok, so I can't use God's direct knowledge to convince you. Oh well. Heathen. haha.

VOTE FOR ME ANYWAYS! I've got a cooler display picture, and this entire debate is abusive to the negative argument. Not to mention it will make the guy in the comments section jump off a bridge. or at least I'd like to assume that he is of such moral fiber as to follow through on a promise made on a website anonymously. Jesus is watching you... and He's quite disappointed.

My last point of argument is that such a blatantly inarguable theory shows a distinct lack of courage, and my opponent should be taught a lesson by not voting for him.

and also, The structure of my contentions is all designed with my intelligent, and I can prove it, and so there you go. Intelligent Design.

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Please? For the starving children in Africa, and the heartless CEOs in America,

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=]
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by roman.legion 9 years ago
roman.legion
Correct me if I'm wrong (it wouldn't be the first time), but isn't the main premise of ID:

A). Evolution does not account for the complexity of biological life.

And the conclusion is:

B).Therefore complexity is better accounted for by a designer.

Forget scientific theory, does ID follow the laws of logic? (and I'm being serious with this question, as you seem like a capable guy). Answer in a syllogism, if you would. It'd make me happy.
Posted by evansands 9 years ago
evansands
Thank you for pointing out my entire issue with you. You only claimed to be satirical after your original case was posted and thoroughly refuted. If your initial case was satire (a highly suspect and unconvincing claim), it certainly wasn't funny and established nothing of worth. You actually did something that ID proponents often do: modify their theory ad hoc to escape refutation. However, instead of modifying a theory, you modified your stance, and in place of escaping refutation, your escaping humiliation (for lack of a less harsh word). You originally made a case that was decent and worth examining. I responded why it was incorrect (which, by my own admission, was easy) and then you gave up. Long after this, you claimed to be satirical. Forgive me if I'm not convinced that you had satire in mind all along. If anything, I could understand if you weren't taking your side seriously and were only trying to defend ID for fun (which is essentially what you claimed in your second post).
Moreover, there are millions of people who actually consider ID a serious scientific alternative to evolution, which it is not, so this debate isn't altogether "pointless," it's simply easy to argue the aff side because it's correct. There are countless individuals who would try to debate me on this topic.
Finally, of course I'm insulting you back because that's how internet discourse proceeds. I wouldn't have prompted it (as you did by calling me cowardly), but I'm going to defend myself and point out your own flaws (which are numerous and severe…see how this works?).
This is the source of my frustration, not your "game."
Merry Christmas to you!
For this holiday, I provide you with the gift of knowledge: no one is convinced that you trying to be satirical from the start.
Posted by transpicuous 9 years ago
transpicuous
While the debate fizzled out after the first round I still enjoyed reading it. Very entertaining.
Posted by sammer_the_hammer 9 years ago
sammer_the_hammer
haha you still don't get the game do you?

You play along really well though... maybe you realize that I'm intentionally antagonizing you and find it refreshing to have a person on whom to place your own insults. Notice also that you insult me... hmm... This is great. My entire point was to be satiric and show that this debate is pointless and obviously no one that is going to be coming to a site about debating is going to take a challenge to prove Intelligent Design is a legitimate theory seriously. I know I didn't, as is apparent in my so called case.

Merry Christmas!
Posted by evansands 9 years ago
evansands
Missionary for the atheist religion? Are you kidding? First, look at my profile, second, the fact that Intelligent Design isn't a scientific theory has nothing to do with atheism. It's simply not scientific.
As a bit of advice, consider picking opponents you can legitimately debate if you're looking to "garner more challenges." People don't want to waste their time responding to incompetent cases that try to rely of sub par humor for votes. You lost because your case was ill-conceived, poorly executed, and irrelevant. Get over it.
I don't really care about this debate or if I "win" in terms of total votes. You just keep coming at me off-topic and sophomoric insults. Based on every glimpse of your character I've had the displeasure of encountering, I can infer that you're intellectually inadequate and incapable of civil communication. You lost, you suck, move on…
Posted by sammer_the_hammer 9 years ago
sammer_the_hammer
I must apologize. It wasn't cowardice that drove evansands, it was him playing the missionary for the athiest religion. I mostly was just trying to get involved in any debate to garner more challenges. Speaking of which, I would like it if you could go check my profile and vote on any debates I'm in...
Posted by Projectilefetus 9 years ago
Projectilefetus
It is seldom easy to adjudicate an evolution/ID debate for the simple reason that is excruciatingly difficult (if not impossible) to make a defensible case against evolution or in support of ID. With that in mind, I must look to how well the pro, anti-ID side pointed out precisely why Intelligent Design is incorrect, and how well the pro-ID side managed to obfuscate these refuting facts. While the Con side did a respectable job defending a position that is factually incorrect and can be shown to be incorrect, my vote goes to the Pro for his excellent analysis replete with supporting details and a clear, concise explanation of why Intellignt Design is not science by any stretch of the imagination.
Posted by killa_connor 9 years ago
killa_connor
You have my vote Pro. Nicely debated, you're not a coward!
Posted by Felix_Karloff 9 years ago
Felix_Karloff
"So, did my choice to initiate this debate only become cowardly once you realized your case failed on all levels?"

Your starting motivation obviously was not cowardly if it only was able to become cowardly once the conflicting viewpoint failed.
Just saying.
Posted by evansands 9 years ago
evansands
In regards to my lack of courage, I admit that my case was easy to argue. However, it should be noted that you accepted this debate and initially appeared to argue a point, suggesting that you actually thought your side had a chance. So, did my choice to initiate this debate only become cowardly once you realized your case failed on all levels?

For the record, I'm only pretending like I'm offended. I can't feel offended for the same reasons I can't be enthusiastic: I'm just too lazy for feelings.
24 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by HwangJongWon 9 years ago
HwangJongWon
evansandssammer_the_hammerTied
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Vote Placed by hark 9 years ago
hark
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Vote Placed by transpicuous 9 years ago
transpicuous
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Vote Placed by AMBagoli 9 years ago
AMBagoli
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Vote Placed by Devils_Advocate 9 years ago
Devils_Advocate
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Vote Placed by Projectilefetus 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by killa_connor 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Lacan 9 years ago
Lacan
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Vote Placed by remtonar 9 years ago
remtonar
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Vote Placed by dairygirl4u2c 9 years ago
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