Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Intelligent Design Should Not Be Excluded From Schools

In today's Guardian, Alastair Nobel has a fine piece defending the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools...

As a former science teacher and schools inspector, I am disturbed that proposals for science education are based on near-complete ignorance of intelligent design. I also think the views of most British people in this matter should not be so readily set aside.

It is easily overlooked that the origin of life, the integrated complexity of biological systems and the vast information content of DNA have not been adequately explained by purely materialistic or neo-Darwinian processes. Indeed it is hard to see how they ever will.

In an area such as this, where we cannot observe what happened directly, a legitimate scientific approach is to make an inference to the best explanation. In the case of the huge bank of functional information embedded in biological systems, the best explanation – based on the observation everywhere else that such information only arises from intelligence – is that it too has an intelligent source.

There is a tendency in school science to present the evidence for evolution as uniformly convincing and all-encompassing, failing to distinguish between what is directly observable – such as change and adaptation over time through natural selection – and the more hypothetical elements, like the descent of all living things from a common ancestor. The evidence for these various strands is not of equal strength.

If you insist that intelligent causation is to be excluded in the study of origins then you are teaching materialist philosophy, not science.'

I believe current government guidance is wrong in denying intelligent design the status of science. However, it does encourage teachers to handle it "positively and educationally". That's a small step in the right direction.

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