Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Deep Thoughts

"It's probably the deepest question we can ask about the nature of reality," says Guillermo Gonzalez, Iowa State University astronomy professor, intelligent design activist, and author of The Privileged Planet, a book that asserts the probability of complex life existing is so infinitesimally small that our planet, Earth, must have purpose and significance.

"Is (our existence) the product of a mind? Or is it completely the product of mindless forces?"

Perhaps so, but is it a scientific question? Part of the diffiiculty of doing science is that not all questions rise to the level of a scientific hypothesis -- an idea that can be experimentally tested. The problem for intelligent design proponents, such as Gonzalez, is that their philosophical speculations offer no guide for what series of astronomical observations or experimentation might be conducted to move them out of the realm of metaphysics and into science.

There's nothing wrong with this sort of idle speculation. We all do it. It's very human. It's just that most of us understand this sort conjecture, while highly interesting, isn't what science is about.

That is why 124 of Gonzalez' colleagues at Iowa State University have signed a petition opposing the teaching of intelligent design as a scientific fact.

The DesMoines Register has a good story on the issue by Reid Forgrave that gives an overview of this developing story, including the story of Gonzalez' conversion during a solar eclipse.


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