Intelligent Design Theory isn’t

(Warning! This post contains spoilers for the end of Battlestar Galactica. I’ll put them after the jump so you can safely read everything that appears on the home page.)

You’ll be forgiven if you think my title means that ID theory isn’t intelligent, heck I couldn’t honestly disagree with the sentiment, but what I was really thinking was that ID isn’t really a theory. At least not in the strict scientific sense of the word, I suppose you could call it a theory in the same loose sense that the wild speculation of college students as they pass a bong around could be called theories.

I don’t want to be unfair here, I really don’t. It’s just that as far as I can understand, ID theory is that an intelligence, as yet undetected, either is acting or has acted in the past to effect change in the development of life on Earth, through unknown mechanisms. That’s not a summary, that’s the entire thing.

ID used to be touted as a secular, scientific theory that had no relation to the overtly religious creationists, but that seems to have been dropped recently, perhaps after the Dover-Kitzmiller trial they didn’t see a point in maintaining the masquerade. Or at least, all the sites I looked at during this writing were overtly Christian, and many cited the Bible either as evidence, or as a sort of yardstick by which evidence should be judged. Presumably if I looked enough I could find one doing both at once.

But a thing shouldn’t be judged by its weakest examples. So I Googled “evidence for intelligent design” and found lots of examples of people assuming that if evolution fails, ID wins by default.

As I mentioned a couple months ago on my post about Noah’s Ark, science doesn’t work that way. Your hypothesis can’t win by tearing down the opposition, it has to be able to stand on its own merits.

Worse, most of the claims of evidence against evolution aren’t about it at all, but the big bang or the theory of abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is not a robust theory, and may therefore seem like an easy target, but it still stands pretty strongly against people talking about breaking down broths of bacteria to their base molecules and calculating the odds of a bacterium reconstructing itself.

This is all a massive digression, however. Because I thought of something that would be actual evidence for ID, were it to happen for real, and that’s the ending of Battlestar Galactica. Spoilers ahead!

Seriously, if you keep reading don’t whine to me about giving away the ending.


In the last episode, the stricken ship jumps blindly to the coördinates provided by (literally!) deus ex machina and finds themselves orbiting an unknown moon of an unknown planet. They dramatically pass around the moon to see a blue world featuring the unmistakable shape of Africa! It’s a powerful moment, and many people agree that it’s best to turn off the show right there and consider that the end.

But it does go on, it eventually turns out that they have arrived at our Earth some 150,000 years ago. And the humans already living on Earth are genetically compatible with the humans of Kobol. It’s implied that the refugee fleet integrated with the natives and that we’re all descended from both, and it’s all but explicitly stated that the cylon-human hybrid girl is Mitochondrial Eve, ancestor to all humans living today.

This is the sort of thing that would be evidence of intelligent design. Our closest living relative is the chimpanzee, and we aren’t compatible. Finding life on another planet that is not only made of the same stuff, but that we could successfully breed with is basically impossible without some serious meddling, meddling on a staggering scale of a sort we can only begin to speculate about mechanisms for. Beings that could do that may not be actual gods, but from our perspective down here they could easily look like them.

So if you are a serious supporter of ID theory, you should also be supporting research into extra-solar exploration. That strongest evidence you could possibly find will be on another world, and as a bonus whatever you find there pretty much can’t be considered evidence against ID, no matter how weird it may be.

Let’s get out there and find some strange new worlds!

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on January 2, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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