Field of Science

10 minutes on Intelligent Design

I have just watched this great recording of Ken Miller giving a lecture in front of a room full of students at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2006. The first half is an introduction to evolution, and the second half is about Intelligent Design and the 2005 trial in Dover, PA. Miller is a wonderful lecturer, and it's really worth watching.

As you might recall, I asked Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, with Miller sitting right next to her, if the NCSE would object to a university professor teaching Intelligent Design in a course on biology. Her answer was that that would be okay at the university level, but not in high school. But that it should not be done in as little as 10 minutes. A lot more time is needed. Doing it in 10 minutes would be a "disservice to science."

Now I have, ironically (for an understatement), just watched Ken Miller do exactly that. In the lecture on my DVD Miller spends 12 minutes and 42 seconds talking about ID (chapters 21-24). He talks about issues related to ID also (trial, religion), but the core aspects of ID are covered elegantly in less than 10 minutes. And here's the real kicker: the students are high schoolers!

So, I don't really know what to think of this, to be honest. The bottom line is that Scott thinks talking about ID for only 10 minutes is not a good idea. At least if it is with the aim of teaching what science is and isn't, even though I did start phrase the question to be about a course in biology, not philosophy. Oh well, I kick myself for not having a better answer on hand.


  1. Neither Eugenie Scott nor Ken Miller understand Intelligent Design so I would not worry too much about it.

    And even if you had the perfectly worded question it would have made no difference.

  2. Ken Miller understands ID very well, as far as I can see from what he says about it. Can you explain what you mean?

  3. Nothing can be understood when your goal is to disprove it.
    The only way to understand something is to try to prove it correct yourself. Then you will begin to see aspects of the issue that you had never seen before.
    You will also begin to see how your previous arguments are actually not valid. But you can never see this when all your effort is put into believing that your arguments are valid.

    You yourself can try this by arguing on behalf of Intelligent Design. If you are sincere you will begin to see many things that you do not see now. But it is useless for someone else to point them out. You must sincerely do it yourself.

  4. ID is easy to understand. Miller has first understood ID, and then he has disproved it.

    The validity of a hypothesis is assessed by testing it, not by trying to prove it correct, but rather by trying to disprove it.

    I have tried, for myself, to argue on behalf on ID, as you put it. It is an unscientific theory. How do you know what I "see" and what I don't? I could equally well state that I see ID more clearly than you do, and that you are fooling yourself by not being critical enough. What you are saying amounts to rejecting teaching, which is ludicrous.

  5. Can you point us to a link where you "argued on behalf of ID" as you said?
    Or if it is not in writing, how would you argue on behalf of it now?
    I would be very interested in seeing your argument on behalf of ID.

  6. I have nothing written, but am now in the process of writing something up. Please check back later.

    Also, since you are making this request, could I request that you identify yourself? If you are afraid of repercussions of any kind, rest assured that they will never come from me. I value open discussion despite our differences, as that is one of the ways to change one's own mind, but it is common courtesy to state your designation in some form (some recognizable pseudonym is fine).

  7. Anon, my attempt at arguing for ID is here.


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