Sucker Bet – more on Intelligent Design

I’ve had the pleasure of being friends with the Oregon-based author T. G. Browning for a few years now. He has proposed a very sensible idea to help move on the Intelligent Design/Evolution debate. Over to T. G.:

Okay folks, listen up. This is a plea, not a rant. The entire debate
about the Kansas School Board decision has shifted away from the real
core of the debate. I’m asking everyone who reads this to send it on
to at least three other people with a note suggesting that the
recipients do the same.

Intelligent Design (ID) adherents keep saying they simply want to
teach the debate. It’s time to do just that. But how?
The answer is so simple that no one has actually suggested it until
now; at least, not in the terms Americans are most familiar and
comfortable with.


I propose the following: A cash fund, administered by an impartial
panel that represents both sides, with the money to be awarded to
anyone who can put together a scientific experiment that has a
reproducible result.

The debate is whether or not ID can function as a scientific theory or
not. The fund would be presented to the first person or organization
that could propose an experiment that passes scientific peer review
guidelines and proves ā€“ or disproves ā€“ any prediction of the ID
theory. If ID truly is a scientific theory, then it must make
predictions that can be tested. Let’s accept that at face value and
let the chips fall where they may.

If this sounds familiar, it is. A similar proposal has been in place
for a number of years for any paranormal claim. The magician, James
Randi, has offered a cash award for years, to anyone who could
demonstrate under controlled, double blind conditions, any occurrence
of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition or telekinesis. No winners
have come forward to claim the money.

I’ll be upfront here. This is a sucker bet, because ID is not science
in any way, shape or form. It makes no predictions that I’m aware of
and no ID adherent has ever proposed any experiment, ever. Why?
Because there are no predictions to test.

I’m not rich, unfortunately, and can’t put up a huge cash prize, but I
will go so far as to put up $250 as seed money. I’m forwarding this
proposal to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims
of the Paranormal (CSICOP) with a request for others to start putting
money together. Perhaps someone rich who has demonstrated a concern
for science education in this country will also put up money. [Bill
and Melinda Gates come to mind. Over the past decade, the two of them
have shown a great deal of sense and civic concern.] My goal would be
a cash award of $1,000,000. That’s enough money to make the idea
attractive to even the most cynical of ID adherents.

God knows I could be wrong. Perhaps some very smart, incisive person
can think of an experiment that would actually test Intelligent Design
as a scientific theory. I’d be the first to applaud such a test. I
don’t look for any such test in the near future, however, and will
make a non-psychic prediction for you all. None will be put forth.

I strongly doubt that Michael Behe, William Dembski and Jonathan Wells
(three big name ID proponents), will back such a proposal because the
truth of the matter is that Behe and his fellow ID advocates know full
well that no such test is possible.


Because ID is not science.

It’s a simple as that.

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