The Ham/Nye debate brought up a very important question. What would make me change my mind about creationism (including Intelligent Design)?
There’s a lot of parts to that and I’ll talk about a few of them.
What would make me change my mind about creationism/ID not being science?
I do not think that any form of creationism is correct science. Parts of the things that they claim can be investigated by science (e.g. did a world wide flood occur?). But in general, creationism does not offer a testable hypothesis. To be a part of science, this would have to change.
One way creationists could go about this would be to identify possible designers, determine what effects/situations would be present with one type of designer and not others, then look for those effects. This is similar to what science does when there is an effect with an unknown cause.
Creationism needs to make testable predictions… then test them. Just saying “we predicted junk DNA wouldn’t exist” isn’t enough. Anyone can say anything, especially after the fact. But taking those predictions and making the tests and investigations would be a big start.
Another thing that would be very helpful to creationists is to settle on a single idea. If you go to a forum or blog about creationism or ID, you’ll see dozens of different ideas about what it is, how it works, what it means. There’s Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, Intelligent Design of organisms, Intelligent Design of the Universe, and multiple variations on all of them. These guys need to all sit down and do some serious thinking about one thing, test it, determine the validity of that idea and move on.
This will likely never happen because, as we all know, creationism and ID isn’t about evidence, it’s about beliefs.
Evidence for a Young Earth/Universe
The Young Earth Creationists have the biggest problem. There is simply no data consistent with a young Earth (less than 3.5 billion year old). However, what things would be evidence of that?
If the universe were only 10,000 lightyears in diameter. If the speed of light where known (or found) to vary as much as 100,000,000% (estimate).
Evidence of a Biblical Young Earth might be if there was a single layer of rock on Earth that was eroded, covered by a single layer of rock that was depositional. If the mutation rates of organisms were known (or found) as much as 100,000% (estimate) and not destroy the offspring. If no radioactive samples were shown to be older than 10,000 years or that the weak nuclear force (responsible for radioactive decay) was known (or discovered) to vary by as much as 100,000,000% (estimate).
Evidence for Special Creation
What I mean be special creation here is, just as the creationism/ID textbook Of Panda’s and People describes it.
Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.
What we would see in the fossil record (the actual fossil record, not the one creationists think exists), is the sudden appearance of major features. Yet, in every single case, so far, there is significant evidence of precursor features in the fossil record. Feathers, for example and since they are specifically mentioned, have a long and detailed fossil record.
Other evidence for special creation would be that no organisms have similar, but slightly altered genes. Indeed, I would think that many organisms have exactly the same genes (in many different areas) would be evidence, at least, against evolution, which is not the same thing as evidence for creation.
Totally no genetic similarities would also be evidence against evolution (common descent), but probably not evidence for special creation.
A long time ago, we just to talk about Precambrian bunnies. And that would certainly help to discredit evolution. But if there were sudden appearances of many different groups, where they had no right to be, that would be evidence for special creation. This goes much beyond what Meyer (for example) thinks happened in the Cambrian explosion. Here, we’re talking about the appearance of birds before dinosaurs, mammals before sharks, or real anachronisms. Not just missing fossils between one group of arthropods and another group of arthropods.
Evidence for Intelligent Design
Evidence that make me consider ID to be a scientifically useful concept would be thinks like: ID being used to predict whether something was designed or not. If any ID proponent could use the principles of ID to determine whether a gene, a string of text or anything else was designed or not would be an amazing step forward. In the decade or so that I’ve been asking for this, no ID proponent has even attempted to try it. A few scientists have, using tools of science. I posted a string of digits and several scientists correctly identified it as designed, by using a statistical analysis of the numbers and judged that they were non-random.
Other evidence supporting ID would be discovery of the actual designer or the tools used by the designer (here’s a hint, if the designer used evolution, then it wasn’t really ‘designed’).
In reality, these things will never happen because these notions of how things came to happen are useless. They are worse than useless, they are fundamentally broken.
If all these disparate groups engaged one another and developed a research plan and then did the research and accepted the results, then they would all come to the same conclusion. There is no evidence for a creator or designer and there is mountains of supporting evidence for evolution.
The simple truth was uttered by Ken Ham in the debate. “What would make you change your mind?” Ham responded, “Nothing.”
Science and skeptics can change their mind. Deniers do not. Oh, some say that they will, provided that science meet their standard for evidence. But we all know that’s not true. If they held their standards of evidence for their own chosen notion, then it would fail.
The consensus is in. Evolution (and science) is simply to useful and too good at figuring stuff out. I’ll tell you honestly, even if evolution were 100% wrong, it wouldn’t be the creationists who figure it out. It would be scientists.