Letter to the LA Times
Dan still needs to get back to me with comments, but Im planning to send this off by 2pm PST. Let me know if you have comments:
By Randy Xu
Proofed by Daniel Berdichevsky
The fact that the intelligent design movement has gained such traction speaks highly of their PR-saavy campaign. Unfortunately, it also speaks lowly of our nation's level of education, both in scientific specifics and philosophical fundamentals. While the state of the former is a perennial subject of newspapers articles and studies, few seem to wonder about the latter: whether Americans know the difference between ontology and teology, or spend time pondering free will and the limits of human knowledge. That such metaphysical questions never enter the public consciousness is disappointing, because they help us to understand
In the case of evolution, the distinction between normative and positive
propositions is crucial to understanding why scientists reject
intelligent design. A normative statement cannot be disproved. It is
often an opinion or a belief: "Social Security ought to be privatized."
In contrast, a positive statement is falsifiable. That is, it has the
potential to be disproved: "The Social Security trust fund will run out
Academics work in the world of positive statements, those that can be
verified through new discovery or application of existing rules.
Ironically, creationism and intelligent design are rejected by academics
because they are simply too perfect; they can neither be tested nor
disproved. Hence, their conclusions can only be their premise.
Science is very limited in its scope and methods. Science cannot
provide answers to normative questions such as "What is our purpose in
life?" but religion can. Scientists can only tackle the unknown with
tools cured from the known, but the religious can answer anything with
faith alone. An omnipotent being can even nullify all the laws we have
labored so assiduously to divine.
Science fills our need for positive knowledge and can never disprove
God's existence. Religion can give us a normative foundation but can
never prove God's existence. Since they occupy such different spheres,
it is baffling why there is any controversy at all.
Randy Xu graduated from Harvard College in 2004 with a B.A. in Science Technology and Public Policy. He is a managing editor in economics for DemiDec Resources.
Daniel Berdichevsky graduate from Stanford University in 2002 with a
B.A. in Science, Technology and Society and a M.A. in History. He
graduated in 2005 with a M.P.P. from Harvard's Kennedy School of
Government. He founded DemiDec Resources.