|Science and Design
Harry G. Direen, Jr., Ph.D. September 7, 2005
Suppose we know a priori that the universe, earth, and all of life were in fact created. Does the comment mean that we could no longer use science to understand the world around us, that we can only do science if we assume evolution, and purely naturalistic processes?
One of the professional services that I provide is reverse engineering products to see if the product infringes on a given set of patents. I apply scientific engineering skills to work through the details of how a given product works and compare that operation to the technology disclosed in a patent or set of patents. Since most companies and designers are unwilling to divulge the details of the design of their product, I must carefully and painstakingly reverse engineer the product at hand to understand the details of how it works. In the process of reverse engineering a designed product, I find it quite useful to test an measure the product. I must use tests and measurements to evaluate the validity of various hypotheses I generate as to how the product operates and performs various functions. After painstaking scientific analysis of the product, the details of the operation of the product can be compared to the details of technology disclosed in the patent at hand.
The processes I use to reverse engineer a product are not very different in concept to what a biologist must do to unravel the operation of a living organism. Although I freely admit that living organism are much more complex than the products I reverse engineer. The point is, I have yet had to deny there being designers behind the products I have worked on in order to apply science based engineering skills to the understanding of the operation of the product at hand. In fact, if I am lucky enough to obtain information about the designer of the product, that information has often shed light on the product at hand. So far, I have yet to have had to assume that the product at hand came about by purely naturalistic causes in order to apply good scientific principals to the understanding of how the product works. And, even thought I typically assume the product Iím working on was designed, I always seem to find things that I can and must test and measure.
Science can only evaluate measurable, repeatable, phenomena. Historical events such as the origins of the universe, the earth, and life on earth are not directly measurable, nor are historical events repeatable. So, in one sense Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism are not science, but in the very same sense neither is Evolution. Each is attempting to understand the origin of the world around us. But, that origin is a non-repeatable, historical event that cannot be measured directly. Scientist can evaluate the remnants of historical events. They can make all sort of measurements and observations of the remnants, and they can compare the measurements to a model of what they believed occurred in the past. Those measurements and observations are independent of the model and what the scientist believes about what occurred in the past. As long as a scientist is doing good science, his believe system will not impact the measurements and observations that he/she is making. From this stand point, the Evolutionist, the Creationist and the ID advocate can all apply good scientific processes to understand the observable, measurable world around them.
A scientist believe system can and will impact his/hers interpretation of the observable, measurable phenomena. This seems especially true in regards to origins. As an engineer who evaluates products against patented technology, I am not in the legal position to determine whether or not a product infringes upon a patent. Infringement is determined in a court of law. My position is limited to providing measurable, observable, analysis of the operation of the product at hand as compared to technology disclosed in the patent or patents. This keeps my believe system isolated from the legal case of infringement. We have greatly blurred this boundary in the discussion of origins. Many believe Intelligent Design and Creationism belong in the philosophy classroom and Evolution is science. The fact is, if we relegate one to the philosophy department, they should all be pushed into the philosophy department, including evolution. An origins philosophy department can argue over the interpretations of data and analysis of data coming from the science department as it applies to different models of origin. Scientists, no mater what their philosophical belief system can, stick with measuring and analyzing the observable world around us.