In some places in this country teabaggers are pushing that science be replaced with Intelligent Design.
What Intelligent Design supporters claim:
Intelligent design is the assertion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”
– New World Encyclopedia
In English Classes we have name for this type of reasoning: Argument from Ignorance. An Argument from Ignorance is saying something can’t be so because the person making the argument can’t see how that something happened.
In my (hopefully) funny post: “Squirrels have a Liberal Bias” I made fun of the Intelligent Design supporters main argument, “What good is half a wing?” by pointing out flying squirrels have evolved to take advantage of half a wing and have used it to secure a niche in their environment.
As I was writing it I thought I was using another logical fallacy of the Straw Man Argument, setting up an easy to knock down argument. So I looked at the Intelligent Design arguments planning on finding a more solid line of reasoning but I could not find one.
One of the other arguments they have is “Evolution is just a Theory, not a fact.”
This wording is wrong, “Evolution is a Theory, not just a fact.”
A Theory (in science) is taking facts, like “if you drop an object on Earth it will fall at 32 feet per second squared” and “the greater the mass, the more gravitational force objects will have towards each other”, adding those up to come up with a hypotheses that describes what is happening in such a way results can be predicted consistently.
The fact of gravity makes it so if you drop a rock you know it will fall to the ground. The Theory of Gravity makes it so you can calculate how to get three men in a capsule to the Moon and back.
What the “Evolution is just a Theory, not a fact.” argument is, is merely taking words out of context to get a silly meaning. This is like saying, “No cat has eight tales, every cat has one more tail than no cat, therefore every cat has nine tails.”
Another argument they make is genetic information can’t be added to the genetic code. This is just wrong.
Genetic information is added to DNA all the time, they are called mutations.
When an organism sexually reproduces it gets half its genetic information from the mommy and half from the daddy. If either the mommy or daddy has come in contact with radiation, chemicals, or a million other things that can cause a break in their DNA molecule, the DNA will randomly try to repair itself, this will lead to a mutation. Species are constantly getting little mutations all the time.
Some is bad for the species and those born with a bad mutation, like a bad heart, die off sooner than the others and don’t bred as much leading to that mutation not being passed on and being pushed out of the gene pool.
The vast majority of mutations are neither good nor bad, these mutations sit dormant waiting for conditions to change until a time that they give the organism an advantage or disadvantage in their environment or simply become “junk DNA”.
Finally, there is that rare mutation that gives the organism an advantage in their environment like the fifth finger on a hand slowly moving over to become an opposable thumb. Or more elementary single cell organisms that stick together to become multi-celled organisms.
What Intelligent Design really is:
The entire Intelligent Design Assertion can be boiled down to these three lines:
An Argument from Ignorance.
Taking words out of context.
And, finally just plain wrong “facts”.
If anyone has any other assertions that Intelligent Design supporters are pushing, I’ll gladly show you where it fits into one of these categories (or sometimes two or even all three).