Intelligent design "a sterile philosophy"

The following quote really sums up the problem with "intelligent design" as science, and why it is not taken seriously. It comes from a review by Alan D. Gishlick of Jonathan Wells' Icons of Evolution on the National Center for Science Education website.

When Alfred Wegener first proposed his theory of continental drift, he was laughed at and ridiculed. What did he do? Did he form a non-profit advocacy group and lobby state school boards and lawmakers to force teaching of "evidence against" geosynclinal theory? Write a book called Icons of Uniformitarianism? Evaluate and grade earth science textbooks and demand that they be rewritten to remove examples of "borderlands"? No. He went back and did more research. He found like-minded colleagues and they produced research. He fought in the peer-reviewed literature. He produced original research, not polemical popular tracts or politics. Eventually his ideas were adopted by the whole of geology -- not through politics but because of their overall explanatory power. If [Jonathan] Wells and his colleagues [in the ID movement] want "intelligent design" to succeed, they need to produce that research.

I like this because it appeals to the real spirit of scientific progress. If you want other people to believe your theory, then get to work! Test it against real evidence. Face the evidence, not your critics. This is the Internet Age, people, and making up stories about other peoples' work won't pass the Google test.

The thread is picked up by Paul Z. Myers, writing in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (I also link to his weblog version, since the Star-Tribune's articles are not permanently available).

Science is a conservative process. Most college-level introductory textbooks contain only material that has stood the test of time and has been confirmed independently. ID proponents have not only failed to provide any evidence for their thesis, they aren't even trying. There are no labs doing research on this subject; all the papers the Discovery Institute has tried to publish are exercises in spin, in which they try to distort biology researchers' work to fit their preconceptions. With no established body of results, no current work, and no promising prospects for future research, why should ID be supported? It's a dead end. It is absurd to propose that our kids learn about a subject that no legitimate scientists are pursuing and that has no utility.

Consider the progress being made in evolutionary science today:

My own discipline of developmental biology has been revolutionized in the last few decades as we've embraced evolution more fully than before; new papers in the rapidly growing field of evo-devo, or evolutionary developmental biology, pile up on my desk faster than I can read them. This is a genuinely exciting time to be studying biology, at a time when new syntheses of various disciplines with the ideas of evolutionary biology are fueling new innovations, new discoveries, and invigorating evolution yet further. When students ask me about the hot fields that promise great careers, I steer them towards evo-devo (and developmental biology in general, of course), bioinformatics, proteomics, and genomics, all fields in which knowledge of evolution is indispensable.

Intelligent design theory offers no future to students, no substantial likelihood of new insights or biotechnological advancements, and no

Of course, to the proponents pushing ID into school curricula, that is the point. Many of them want to stop progress in biological science, stop biotechnology, and make the world amenable to a very restricted and limited view of Biblical theology. Those who do not share these goals should understand what the stakes are. They should understand that evolutionary theory presents no conflict with religious belief, nor does it question the importance of human life and morality. And they should consider the future that is sapped from children in schools that lack good science instruction:

ID is a sterile philosophy whose proponents spend their time lobbying school boards, producing nothing new, and with no promise of new ideas for the future. Asking our schools to teach ID is like suggesting that they offer instruction in buggy whip manufacture -- it's a futile exercise that is going to leave the students unprepared for both college and the real world.