March 8 Cleveland
Plain Dealer op-ed article
by Patrick H. Young, Ph.D.
(this is how the article appeared before editing)
The State Board of Education should be applauded for evaluating cutting edge research as part of the new science and technology standards in Ohio schools. One of the subjects inviting a curious amount of controversy is the theory of Intelligent Design. There appears to be numerous misconceptions about this theory, so hopefully the facts presented below will shed new light.
A fundamental component in the theory of Intelligent Design is the concept of irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity did not emanate from religion, but originated due to the failure of Darwinian evolution to provide viable intermediate mechanisms for numerous systems observed in biology and biomolecular science. Intelligent Design further seeks to determine the origin of new genetic information required to elucidate the mechanisms of simplicity to complexity. To date, the Darwinian theory of undirected mutations only results in a neutral or effective loss of genetic information and is ineffective at explaining these scientific processes.
Irreducible complexity is an expression to characterize an individual system comprised of several interdependent components. The assemblage is further defined where the elimination of any one of these components results in a completely nonfunctional system. One example of a biochemical system described as irreducibly complex is the Flagellum. The success of this system depends on a series of elaborate parts of staggering complexity and resistant to any gradualistic evolutionary explanation.
Two primary criteria for acceptance as a science are falsification and measurability. Evolutionists have argued Intelligent Design does not meet either of these standards. However, irreducible complexity as a primary component of this theory, certainly is falsifiable. Evolution just needs to provide an experimentally valid reproducible mechanism via mutations and natural selection to elucidate a pathway in the development of complex biomolecular structures. If the structure can be experimentally justified by the Darwinian evolutionary mechanism, the system is then falsified.
The fundamental parameter in measuring irreducible complexity is interdependence. As the number and quality of interdependent components that makeup the system increases, we can be more confident of its design. As the system is characterized as more and more complex, the probability of explaining the structure by Darwinian gradualism becomes increasingly remote.
What seems absent from this intellectual quandary is the original reason for educating our children. The public school system is designed to educate and create citizens capable of independent critical thinking. The future of this republic is built on the foundation that any citizen can be trusted in positions of authority if the educational system prepares them to be rational thinkers.
Certain aspects of education can be thought of as dictatorial so schedules may flow smoothly. However, the key to learning is not by teaching it is my way because I say so. Education should graduate young people who can reason logically and determine answers to questions independently. If the evidence for evolution is so convincing, then allowing a teacher to expose students to the ample body of contrary evidence should only serve to strengthen the argument. Educational excellence is best achieved when foundational truths are presented with corresponding dissenting opinions and understanding the knowledge that formed the ideas.
The Ohio grade six life sciences standard number four says, "Know that living cells can only come from other living cells". This statement is made due to the inadequacy of Darwinian evolution to elucidate any viable mechanism for life to originate from non-life. Intelligent Design purports to address this issue (among many others), and censoring the concept will not only result in confusing the life sciences curriculum, but will not accurately portray facts well recognized in the biomolecular sciences.
Patrick H. Young is a resident of Canal Winchester, Ohio. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and has been employed in industry as a Research Chemist and Materials Scientist for over 17 years.
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