• Peter Kupisz

If Intelligent Design is not "Scientific" does that Mean it's Wrong?

If something cannot be tested, does that make it wrong? And if something cannot be tested, should it be dismissed as “pseudoscience”? Many skeptics (including many scientists) dismiss a theory called Intelligent Design for being "untestable" and therefore "pseudoscience." Whether or not those accusations are true is a debatable matter. But assuming the accusations are correct there is still a deeper and more important issue to consider. And that is, whether or not something is “scientific” or "testable" does not determine whether it is true or not. Many things which are not necessarily “scientific,” may in fact be true. Those who oppose Intelligent Design, often fail to appreciate this. To see this, consider the fact that scientists often invoke ideas and theories that are not testable and could be labelled "pseudoscience." For example, in the past century scientists have discovered that the universe’s fundamental constants, as found in the laws of physics, display an amazing degree of fine-tuning. This fine-tuning is so incredibly improbable that it cries out for explanation. Two common ways of explaining it are design (i.e. God) and chance. Those who espouse the chance hypothesis argue that our universe could just be one universe amongst an infinite number of universes. And given this vast ensemble, it's entirely possible that a universe like ours could exist by chance.


But as George Ellis, one of the world’s leading cosmologists, points out, the existence of those other universes (i.e. multiverse) cannot be tested. He states,

...physicists and cosmologists are claiming to prove the existence of other expanding universe domains even though there is no chance of observing them, nor any possibility of testing their supposed nature except in the most tenuous, indirect way.... As a philosophical proposal, the multiverse idea is interesting and has considerable merit. The challenge facing cosmologists now is how to put on a sound basis the attempts to push science beyond the boundary where verification is possible — and what label to attach to the resultant theories.

So, given that there is no way to test for the existence of all the other universes, they could be labelled "pseudoscience." Of course, that does not determine whether those other universes exist or not. It's important to realize that just because a theory cannot be tested, does not necessarily make it false.


All of this relates back to Intelligent Design. Skeptics who dismiss Intelligent Design (ID) as “pseudo-scientific nonsense” often do so because, they claim, ID is not testable. Yet these same people frequently embrace the existence of other universes even though that idea is not testable. Given this, perhaps Intelligent Design should not be so easily and quickly dismissed.

Reference

George Ellis, “Physics Ain’t What It Used to Be,” Nature 438, no. 7069 (December 2005): 739–40, https://doi.org/10.1038/438739a.

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