Intelligent Design: Another Example of Faith-Based "Science"

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The argument of Intelligent Design versus the Theory of Evolution is not exactly analagous to the argument between the climate skeptics and the (real) climate scientists. But the very existence of an ID movement, and the startling degree to which it has gained adherents in the U.S., is symptomatic of a larger public campaign to subvert science for religious or economic reasons.

This campaign sometimes succeeds because many people don’t want to invest scarce hours in trying to fully understand the competing positions. They don’t want to become climate scientists or evolutionary theorists. They just want someone to tell them the truth.

But how do you weigh truth without seriously considering the evidence? How do you judge credibility when the intellectual combatants are expert at dressing up their spokesters and their arguments with the trappings of of scientific “evidence”?

Well, in the case of Intelligent Design, we have the attached findings of a Pennsylvania court, which tested the ID “theory” and found only religious fundamentalism. It’s not quite breezy reading – which, again, will limit its effectiveness in raising public understanding – but it’s a conclusive and extremely credible assessment of the arguments.

It would be nice to have a court case weighing the current evidence of climate change against the increasingly looney counterclaims. In the absence of such a case, the global consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should suffice.

Still, those who would deny the science – especially coal and oil companies that put their own profits ahead of everything else – don’t need to win the argument. They must only convince people that that is an argument – that the issue is undecided. That, then, undermines the public support for the policies that we need to address the problem.

At the end of the day, we must all be skeptical. That doesn’t mean choosing sides with people who call themselves “skeptics.” It means taking the responsibility to make a critical decision. If 2,500 of the most prominent climate scientists in the world say one thing, and half-a-dozen economists and industry-funded hacks say something else, that’s not an argument, it’s a farce. It’s just that, in this case, the implications are particularly unfunny. 

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