First Biology, now Physics...

Following the (ahem) thorough and robust discrediting of Evolution and the infinitely wiser Theory of Intelligent Design, the wise ones have now shown that the Physical ideas behind Gravity are lacking - and should be replaced by the theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down,"

Later on the story goes on to give the reasonable point that

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

Tongue is now removed from the cheek where it had been lodged. Yes, the above story was a spoof.

The point I want to make is that ALL science should be taught as 'a work in progress'. Presenting things always as 'fact' is a disservice. For example, when discussing the solar system one can take a historical look at Ptolomym Tycho Brahe and so on.

Popper talked of science being 'falsifiable', i.e. that we can design tests, that a theory must be capable of being falsified. However that we could never prove a theory to be true, but simply fail to show that it is false. These are not the same thing.

By this token the intelligent design mob have a point - I cannot show that intelligent design is false.... but is it open to falsification? Evolution is, one possible falsification is for the creator to show up! HOWEVER, for intelligent design to be true there would have to be a whole load of assumptions made, such as:

I suppose one could argue for a 'designer' doing all that - it seems like she'd be rather busy though... and at times rather malicious.

There is another rule in science, that is that if you cannot design an experiment to differentiate between two predictive hypotheses, choose the simplest. This is called Occam's razor. The designer hypothesis has the problem of 'who designed the designer' - it simply shifts the question, but doesn't change it. Evolution has the problem of 'first reproducer' - but this is a problem of simpler order, see 'The Blind Watchmaker' by Dawkins.

If Popper's idea of falsifiability were all, then Ptolomy and Copernicus would have been on equal footing as far as Galileo was concerned - it's just that Copernicus' model was simpler... (okay, Galileo also had the moons of Jupiter to drop him a hint, but these could have been incorporated into a Ptolomaic model if one was willing to go through contortions). It wasn't until Newton that a mechanism was proposed for the motion of the planets, Occam's razor was Galileo's main guide.

Hint for Creationists: It helps if you understand what you're trying to refute. For example:

Natural selection is not evolution. This merely weeds out organisms and the information they contain; it doesn't generate new information. The creationist Edward Blyth discussed natural selection 25 years before Darwin, but recognized that it was a conservative, not a creative, force.

Mutations are not evolution. They are copying mistakes in the genes. No mutation is known to increase information content; every known mutation has either decreased information content or was informationally neutral. This applies even to the rare examples of beneficial mutations.

Natural Selection plus mutation IS evolution, the two seperately is not. Most mutations will be detrimental, this much is true. However where a mutation causes a greater success rate in producing viable offspring, it tends to be selected for. The key is viable offpsring.

Note that 'increasing information content' is not evolution - not is it a priori impossible! Indeed, the second law of thermodynamics relies upon it.

Yes, on the face of it one might think that selection only acts upon pre-existing variation - but this is not the case. Suppose one killed bacteria with penicillin. From time to time some survive, these will be the most resistant in the population (maybe the course of antibiotics was not completed). One might see this as simply looking at a variation which as already there. However the progeny will occasionally mutate and we get some extra resistance, and some with less resistance - surrounding this new higher resistance average. At the next exposure anything that is a bit weedy is killed off, and we get the strongest surviving. Where penicillin used to work pretty well, it often doesn't work now - this is because where people did not complete courses of antibiotics the 'strongest' bacteria survived, then mutated. Repeating this over many generations gives bacteria that can survive even the complete course.

Without mutations that are then selected, this looks feasible:

Natural selection: the drugs wipe out all the non-resistant germs, so the most resistant germs survive and multiply. This leads to a whole population that's resistant to antibiotics. This is not evolution because the resistance already existed in the population. Despite this, the PBS Evolution propaganda series used selection of pre-existing antibiotic resistance in tuberculosis germs as a major "proof". In fact, some bacteria revived from corpses frozen before the development of antibiotics have shown resistance.

Selection for resistant bacteria is a real danger when a patient fails to complete a prescribed course of antibiotics (60 days for Cipro)—i.e. stops taking the drug when the symptoms ease, which just means that most germs have been destroyed. The remnants require the final doses of antibiotic to finish them off, but if the treatment stops, they are free to multiply. This time the drug is far less effective, since the remnant population will tend to be the more resistant ones.

The reason that fails as an explanation is because, by it's own admission those bacteria that survive would have been killed. The key is that though these are the 'strong ones' their projeny will have variation, some weaker, some stronger. Applying an antibiotic from time to time knocks out the weaker end. This means at over time the progeny will be strong enough to resist even the full antibiotic course. That IS evolution

One can show that organisms change and adapt. It is possible to falsify claims to the contrary. As for there being a designer's hand? That's one for Occam's razor. Although one could argue not, as Occam's razor only applies to 'predictive theories', and intelligent design is not that. (Note, a predictive theory does not mean that predictions are always possible!)

Another hint for creationists: Evolution IS 'just a theory, but so is every other bit of science ever.... really it is. The way to discredit evolution is to find evidence which simply does not fit. Evolution can explain things like antibiotic resistant bacteria, for intelligent design to do the same you need to assume a malicious designer. Just as a scientist considers all the evidence, you must do the same too, I can recommend books like 'The Selfish Gene' and 'The Bllind Watchmaker'. Get later editions as these have appendices which answer the sorts of questions that you will have when you read. No - I don't intend to get drawn into a long debate on this one unless evidence and reason is at the core. Quoting a piece of scripture does not count as evidence.