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Last Updated: 4/3/08

Intelligent Design (ID) is Testable and Falsifiable

Introduction: The complaint often shows in the media that Intelligent Design (ID) is not science because it is not testable or falsifiable. In the early days of ID that was true. But like all good theories, as time passes, scientists refine the area of study. ID has been quantified and can be tested at any time with repeatable experiments. Since the media and general circulation science magazines prefer to repeat the past rather than look at what is true today in ID, we will explain how ID is real science.

The beginning concept of ID as science was Stephen Meyer’s Specified Complexity. This concept says that when we find a complex structure, for example a rock mountain, and we also recognize a common appearance, such as Mount Rushmore (a rock mountain carved into the likeness of four presidents of the USA), we can rationally say, we have found intelligent design.

We can look at DNA and see letters, words, sentences, chapters and so on. It appears to be designed. The letters are not random, they spell words which make sentences, etc. Specified Complexity make common sense but how can we really know Mt. Rushmore or DNA are designed? How does the specified complexity lend itself to a repeatable experiment? It doesn’t. Science? Maybe, but not good science.

Early this century, William Dembski quantified the concept, calling it the Explanatory Filter. Here is the filter. Think of Mt. Rushmore or the structure of DNA as you think about the filter:

1 Does a natural law explain the situation? Does, for example, the law of gravity explain what you observe? Solid theories also apply. Does the theory of relativity explain the observation. If natural law explains the situation, it is NOT designed. If natural laws do not explain the observation then...

2 What is the probability that the observation could occur randomly? If the probability of the observation occurring by chance is better than 1 chance in 10 (exponent) 150 (10 followed by 150 zeros!), then chance may be able to explain it. This step is very conservative. Scientist who look at impossibilities general define impossible as have less chance than 1 in 10 exp 90 because that is about the number protons in the known universe. Because the possibility is so conservative, the filter can result in what is known as a false negative. That means that something that IS designed could be called natural by this step.

3 If something passes through filter 1 and 2, then we have something that is intelligently designed. False positives are not allowed (this is how ID can be falsified). In other words, if something we know is natural is determined to be designed by this step, the concept of ID is falsified. Mt. Rushmore and DNA have a probability of occurring naturally of less than 10 exp 150. For example, Sir Fred Hoyle, the famous cosmologist, once calculated that the probability of a simple cell forming from non-living material is 1 in 10 exp 2040. According to the filter, a simple cell would have to be designed by intelligence.

NOW, we have something that is testable and falsifiable in repeatable observations. GOOD science!
Some evolutionists still claim ID is not science because it is untestable and unfalsifiable. Some say they have falsified ID (they haven't). The fact that evolutionists are trying to falsify ID indicates it is considered good science.

Here is the real hoot of the matter: Evolution (dinosaur to bird style, not natural selection) is UNtestable and Unfalsifiable. There is NOT ONE repeatable experiment to test evolution. To see evolution, one must first assume the untestable, unfalsifiable view that evolution is possible and true (recent DNA research shows it is impossible). That is NOT science. It is a religious belief system devised to deny our Creator, Jesus, the Christ of God.

So, in the end, it is actually evolution that is poor science because it is not testable or falsifiable.

In actuality, evolution HAS BEEN TESTED. For nearly 100 years, scientists have been bombarding fruit flies with mutagens (chemicals, radiation and other things that we know cause mutations). The results have been superficial changes in offspring, but mostly dead fruit flies. The most significant change has been that sometimes a fruit fly will grow an extra set of wings. But those extra wings have no muscles to move them. They interfere with the functional wings resulting in a fly that cannot fly. The mutation is harmful (deadly actually)! Whether the fruit fly has a new characteristic or dies, the result is always a fruit fly, never some new creature. That is because mutations cannot add new information. In the case of extra wings, the mutation has modified the location that determines how many wings are created. It does not add information. In this case the change is deleterious (harmful to life).

E. coli has also been subjected to mutagens. In just one year, E. coli will have so many generations of offspring that the total number of E. coli alive at the end of the year will be more than the number of mammals that have ever lived! That is from just one little bacteria. Subjecting the offspring of E. coli to mutagens for a year is the equivalent of all the generations of mammals that have ever lived. What do scientists get at the end of the year... E. coli. No new type of bacteria results.

Evolutionists claim that this does not falsify evolution. Technically is doesn't. The question is what can falsify evolution? The answer is that it cannot be falsified. Therefore, it is not science, it is a religiious belief.