Hallmarks of Science
The hallmarks of true science, among them hard evidence, testable hypotheses, critical analyses, and the ability to predict future events with reasonable accuracy, are absent from faith-based beliefs. A legitimate theory requires the concept of falsifiability, a situation in which the theory is proven false.
A fundamental failure of the faith-based belief as theory is that those advancing the idea of an intelligent designer are unable to consider, let alone accept, the possibility that their belief is false. It is the unshakeable faith in beliefs that distinguishes the proponents of intelligent design from scientists, who tenaciously seek falsifiable evidence as a matter of course.
Scientists support a theorywhen they do support a theorybased on accumulated evidence, falsifiable tenets, and the history of formulating predictions. A theory is scientifically sound only when it is supported by empirical evidence.
Faith-based beliefs are, by definition, based on faith even in the absence of supporting evidence, as well as in the presence of disproving evidence. The basic distinction is that a scientific theory begins with evidence, then a hypothesis to explain the evidence is constructed, followed by experiments or more observations directed to either falsify or support the explanation. The hypothesis is constantly revised and reworked to accommodate new evidence until eventually a sound theory emerges, one that stands the tests of falsifiability and makes accurate predictions.
In contrast, a faith-based belief system starts with the conclusion, then (perhaps) seeks evidence to support the predetermined conclusion. The evidence gathering itself is fundamentally different from science. In science, the pursuit of evidence is to seek truth. In faith, the pursuit of evidence is to support the belief. In science, all valid evidence, whether pro or con, is accommodated. In faith, any evidence not supporting the belief is categorically rejected as being tainted, heretical, or otherwise invalid.
Evolution as a theory generated many predictions and has been tested through many experiments and observations. The details certainly are debated, argued, and tested, with specific details rejected or adjusted to account for new test results and observations. But the overall evolutionary concept, that life changes over time as an adaptation to better fit an environment, continues to build credibility and respect.
For example, DNA uses the same code in all organisms, allowing the human insulin gene to be transferred to a bacterium, and have the bacterium synthesize insulin from that gene. Darwin knew nothing about DNA, yet his theory predicts a common genetic background for both humans and bacteria.
The common DNA code supports and buttresses the theory of evolution. But why would we predict one genetic code common to all species from an intelligent designer, who presumably could assign a different code to each species? What testable predictions arise from the belief that an intelligent designer created everything holus-bolus? This inability of intelligent design to predict and be tested precludes and rejects intelligent design as a scientific theory.
Attempts to manipulate science education by defining religious beliefs as scientific theories are not new. Understandably, those of strong faith desire to convince the agnostic, the nonbelievers, and other infidels by using any weapon available, among them appropriating the objective, non-denominational credibility of science.
Such efforts are redoubled when science is perceived to challenge the faith-based beliefswitness the persecution of Galileo for observing moons circling Jupiter, refuting the geocentric-universe belief held by the faithful of the day.