After all, science is more than just proven theories (like natural selection, the standard model of particle physics, etc.). Science also includes facts (e.g., fossils, DNA patterns, atomic and molecular spectra, etc.) and speculative (yet to be proved) ideas (eg., string ‘theory’). We have got to encourage speculation and novel ideas in science. There must be room to dream. After all, how else we will get hypotheses for testing?
Of course most ideas in science are actually wrong – and we know that because they are proven wrong by testing. There’s no shortage of examples but here is one. In the early 1960s a colleague proposed the idea that the dark areas on the moon (the ‘seas’) were actually composed of organic material – a sort of ashphalt. He had his reasons for this. However, within a few years we knew that was not the case. So another idea bit the dust. He accept the fact that his idea was not good – but it didn’t stop him going on to propose other ideas.
That’s how science works.
Judging scientific ideas
Lee Smolin (in his book The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next) describes how ideas in science are eventually judged:
” . . . assessment can not be based on unrealised hypotheses or unproved conjectures, or on the hopes of the theory’s adherents. This is science, and the truth of a theory can be assessed based only on results that have been published in the scientific literature; thus we must be careful to distinguish between conjecture, evidence, and proof.”
And that is the problem with ID. It is only a conjecture – a speculative idea. There is no evidence. Nothing of substance has been published in the scientific literature. And it’s not as if the idea is new – it’s been around at least since William Paley’s “argument from design” in 1802. ID ‘research’ is limited to trying to find ‘gaps’ in evolutionary science and ‘quote mining‘ the literature is search of justification for their own unproven idea. They even have a name for this – reinterpretation research.
They do no work at all on an ID theory – they don’t even have a hypothesis to test!
Yet the proponents of ID attempt to claim their idea a solid science – solid enough to be taught to children in science classes! Alongside scientific theories which have oodles of evidential support and produce testable predictions! This would be like my colleague from the early sixties demanding that his theory of asphalt lunar seas should have been taught as science.
ID proponents go so far as demanding that the whole nature of science be changed so that ideas without evidential support can be accepted as respectable theory. This is the real logic of their attack on science for being naturalistic or materialist. As Ken Miller says, this is really a proposal to create “an intellectual welfare for an idea that can’t make it on its own.“