I was searching for something in my email archives, and I came across this fictional, though hilariously illustrative, dialogue between a scientist and an advocate for Intelligent DesignÂ©. The email was dated October 2005, so I figured it merited being dredged up from the internet meme catacombs and (re)introduced to you all.
Moderator: We’re here today to debate the hot new topic, evolution versus Intelligent Des—
(Scientist pulls out baseball bat.)
Moderator: Hey, what are you doing?
(Scientist breaks Intelligent Design advocate’s kneecap.)
Intelligent Design advocate: YEAAARRRRGGGHHHH! YOU BROKE MY KNEECAP!
Scientist: Perhaps it only appears that I broke your kneecap. Certainly, all the evidence points to theÂ hypothesis I broke your kneecap. For example, your kneecap is broken; it appears to be a fresh wound; and I am holding a baseball bat, which is spattered with your blood. However, a mere preponderance of evidence doesn’t mean anything. Perhaps your kneecap was designed that way. Certainly, there are some features of the current situation that are inexplicable according to the “naturalistic” explanation you have just advanced, such as the exact contours of the excruciating pain that you are experiencing right now.
Intelligent Design advocate: AAAAH! THE PAIN!
Scientist: Frankly, I personally find it completely implausible that the random actions of a scientist such as myself could cause pain of this particular kind. I have no precise explanation for why I find this hypothesis implausible — it just is. Your knee must have been designed that way!
Intelligent Design advocate: YOU BASTARD! YOU KNOW YOU DID IT!
Scientist: I surely do not. How can we know anything for certain? Frankly, I think we should expose people to all points of view. Furthermore, you should really re-examine whether your hypothesis is scientific at all: the breaking of your kneecap happened in the past, so we can’t rewind and run it over again, like a laboratory experiment. Even if we could, it wouldn’t prove that I broke your kneecap the previous time. Plus, let’s not even get into the fact that the entire universe might have just popped into existence right before I said this sentence, with all the evidence of my alleged kneecap-breaking already pre-formed.
Intelligent Design advocate: That’s a load of bullshit sophistry! Get me a doctor and a lawyer, not necessarily in that order, and we’ll see how that plays in court!
Scientist (turning to audience): And so we see, ladies and gentlemen, when push comes to shove, advocates of Intelligent Design do not actually believe any of the arguments that they profess to believe. When it comes to matters that hit home, they prefer evidence, the scientific method, testable hypotheses, and naturalistic explanations. In fact, they strongly privilege naturalistic explanations over supernatural hocus-pocus or metaphysical wankery. It is only within the reality-distortion field of their ideological crusade that they give credence to the flimsy, ridiculous arguments which we so commonly see on display. I must confess, it kind of felt good, for once, to be the one spouting free-form bullshit; it’s so terribly easy and relaxing, compared to marshaling rigorous arguments backed up by empirical evidence. But I fear that if I were to continue, then it would be habit-forming, and bad for my soul. Therefore, I bid you adieu.