In the February 19th edition of The Oswegonian, an article was published in the Opinion section titled "Academic freedom ends with Darwin." Now that’s an interesting name for the article. No wonder I had such a problem with it. Aside from the idea that the writer of this article was trying to mix religion and science, did he even do the research? Is he even aware of what he is talking about? The very tone of the writing suggests that because scientists are trying to keep "intelligent design" out of scientific study, they are disregarding a perfectly good theory.
This is simply not the case. Mr. Brian Schaedler is sadly misinformed on the subject of evolution as a whole. Mr. Schaedler writes "due to the overwhelming number of people who believe in ["intelligent design"], why should it be a subject swept under the carpet of scientific research?"
First of all, let’s address the concept of belief. The dictionary defines belief as "1. something believed; an opinion or conviction. 2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof." Not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof would be the key phrase there that needs to be focused on.
Belief and fact occupy completely different sides of the street. One could even say they don’t occupy the same city, state, country or even world. Just because enough people believe that the earth is flat, or that we never landed on the moon, or that tin foil hats stop alien rays from messing with our minds, does not make them true and valid for scientific study.
Now why does evolution get the top spot, when it’s only a theory, just like all those other examples? This argument only furthers my sadness toward the human race. Theory, in popular vernacular, and theory in the scientific sense, mean completely different things.
In popular speech, a theory essentially means "Well, it could be this way." In the scientific sense; however, a theory is a broad interpretation of scientific facts. People who use this argument to disregard evolution might as well disregard gravity as well because contrary to popular belief, gravity is nothing but a theory.
The same goes for the term proven. Proof, in the scientific world, does not exist. The term you would be looking for instead is validated. Natural sciences have no proof. It simply cannot be done. There are far too many variables in the world at hand in order to successfully prove evolution as fact rather than just a theory.
So why is keeping "intelligent design" out of academic circles not limiting academic freedom as Mr. Schaedler says? One word: facts. "Intelligent design" has many proponents, many people who write books on the subject. But there are very few facts to solidly back them up.
Even the so-called facts that already do exist are far from being credible. Michael Behe, the author of Darwin’s Black Box, which is currently one of the more in-depth "intelligent design" books out on the market today, went on record with an article in Time Magazine, called "The Evolution Wars" as saying, "You can’t prove ‘intelligent design’ by an experiment."
That same article also explains that scientists who study "intelligent design" do not publish their studies in scientific journals, appealing directly to the public which is, in turn, fueling court battles, school controversies and causing people to bring up absurd thought experiments such as "The Flying Spaghetti Monster." I could just as easily say, "a wizard did it" as "we were intelligently designed!"
Facts are the reason, Mr. Schaedler, that "intelligent design" is being turned away. It is not because a bunch of scientists are feeling threatened about their jobs or their credibility. Without facts, you do not have real proof. A scientific paper published without facts is as useful and informative as a random blogger posting information on the Internet. Or, as it seems, an article in the newspaper.