Intelligent Design

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On December 20, 2005, Judge John E.Jones ruled in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial that the Dover Board of Education in Pennsylvania could not mandate the teaching ofintelligent design in science classes because it is not a science. Supernatural explanations are by definition outside the realm of science. However, supporters of intelligent design continue to lobby for its inclusion in the science curriculum of schools around the world.

Intelligent Design (ID) is an idea that posits that the universe is too complex to have evolved by natural selection and must have been designed by an intelligent entity. ID appeals to the spirit of American democracy by falsely claiming that there is a debate within the scientific community about evolution and that students deserve to hear both sides of the debate. But, this is misleading since scientific debates focus on details about the nature of evolution not about whether or not it occurs. Plus, science is not a democracy. All ideas are not given equal weight. We keep and build upon the ideas that have accumulated good scientific evidence and we discard those that are shown to be invalid. Science and technology would never progress if they did not operate this way.

Examples of unintelligent design are abundant, even in humans who are often considered the pinnacle of design. The human eye has blind spots and it sees everything upside down so the brain must flip everything right side up. Due to anatomical changes in the throat that are associated with speech, it is easy to get food lodged in the trachea (the "windpipe") and choke. The combination of the narrow birth canal (a pelvic adaptation for walking upright) and the very large head of brainy human babies makes childbirth difficult and often dangerous. Because of the constraints on the raw material that natural selection had to work with, some human traits appear to bejerry-rigged. But, we overcome them with other anatomical adaptations and with behavioral adaptations and even with cultural innovations like the Heimlich maneuver.

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