Riker's Mailbox

Thursday, February 14, 2008



I don't know what happened; I started writing a post, meant to save it for later, and apparently botched the whole thing, leaving "~Riker" in the space where the article had originally appeared.

Oh well, not too late to fix this. Here is the item I meant to post:

(Let's assume that) Intelligent Design is behind the diversity of life in our universe!*

Let's face it. Intelligent Design might be true. Any scientist can admit the preceding, so long as you attach the following caveat: if it is true, we're nowhere near knowing it yet.

What in God's name am I rambling about?

The theory of Intelligent Design might actually ever-so-slightly possibly be right**. But if that's the case, it will be discovered to be so scientifically.

Assume in the early 22nd century we discover conclusively and indisputably that our entire universe was created by the anthropomorphic God of ethical monotheism***. We learn this to be an absolute fact. If there are any IDers left, they might cheer, "See? we were right all along!"

But were they? Do they deserve the credit for holding a true belief? No.

Let me repeat that. No.

They didn't arrive at their conclusions scientifically, and they happened, by a depressing accident of chance, to hold beliefs that match the objective truth of the situation. What's the distinction? Imagine in Newton's time, that some crackpot awoke from a dream and announced to him that the universe was made of a curved space-time matrix and how that fact would modify gravitational theory. Not only would Newton not believe it in the first place, Newton would be unable to harness the theory for its predictive power because he'd lack the requisite tools and knowledge to do so. He wouldn't have access to the computers needed to calculate or model the theory, or the instruments that would allow him to observe the accuracy the of the theory's predictions.

It would, in essence, be an unscientific understanding on his part... a personal revelation to him that lacked the confirmability so critical to science. It may have been closer to the truth, but it wouldn't get him anywhere. Starting with Newtonian physics as a baseline and advancing our undersatanding scientifically would be the only means by which humanity could advance to the point at which it has arrived in modern times where we can finally confirm the validity of the curved space-time theory.

An IDer today, practicing ID 'science', will never be able to prove intelligent design in the future; he will simply coast forward in time in all his ignorance, all the way to the day when it is proved true by a scientist using the scientific method.

And only one of the two will be able to make any use of that knowledge.

* - Just for the sake of ease in portraying the following assertion; trust me, it reads better this way.
** - Much in the same way that a marble statue's hand could spontaneously wave; the odds are nonzero... but looking at zero you can definitely see the family resemblance.
*** - or is actually a massive simulation running on an alien supercomputer. Equally likely.


  1. And the moment that you do prove ID scientifically you reduce the designer to a mere measurable phenomenon. God, in essence, becomes a specimen. Hope we can find a big enough jar.

  2. Haha, that's true...

    I wonder if the ability to be measured undermines the infinite nature of God; can he still be omnipotent and be willing to let us be able to measure him?