Intelligent Design and the Demand for Falsifiable Predictions
One of the incessant demands from atheists and Darwinian evolutionists is that intelligent design proponents must provide falsifiable predictions in support of the ID hypothesis. This is a legitimate demand, in my opinion. Unless and until ID proponents come up with formal predictions that can be tested by other researchers, they do not have a leg to stand on.
My Take on the Design vs. Evolution Debate
I am a non-fundamentalist Christian evolutionist as opposed to a Darwinian evolutionist. In my opinion, it is not really evolution that is in dispute. There is no doubt that some form of evolution is happening now and has been happening for millions of years. What is in dispute is exactly how it happened. I disagree with the Darwinian stance regarding the origin of species. I believe that evolution was intelligently directed in the past through genetic engineering. I must add that I am not affiliated with the ID movement.
The way I understand it, most proponents of Darwinian evolution claim that the species originated as a result of random mutations and natural selection through sexual reproduction. They maintain that it happened naturally without intelligent intervention. Of course, as a Christian, I have to disagree with that stance, since it contradicts the Biblical teaching that the original species where created by God. The creation process obviously lasted millions of years (no, I don’t believe that God created the heavens and the earth in six twenty-four-hour days). Thus it is not surprising that the fossil record shows a progression in the sophistication of the species over time. Any creation process is necessarily an evolutionary process. The fact that biological research successfully relies on the evolutionary hypothesis is not surprising either but it is not evidence that evolution was not intelligently directed.
I have no idea whether or not ID advocates have proposed any experimental test that could potentially falsify the design hypothesis and silence their critics. All I have is my own research based on Biblical metaphors. I take an indirect approach to ID falsifiability. I believe that the Bible contains amazing and revolutionary scientific information hidden in clever metaphors. I believe that the metaphors, once properly deciphered, can be used to make precise scientific predictions that can be tested in the laboratory. It follows that if any of these predictions can withstand falsification, they would lend credibility to Biblical claims regarding the origin of the species.
My critics can always argue that any interpretation of Biblical passages is highly suspect because the Bible can be interpreted to support any point of view and I agree. However, based on my research over the last twenty years, I feel sufficiently confident in my understanding of certain Biblical metaphors to make testable predictions about various characteristics of brain operation and organization. These are precise predictions about aspects of the brain (unknown to science) that I could not possibly have any knowledge of, since I am neither a neurobiologist nor do I have access to a neurobiological research lab. What follows is one such testable prediction about an aspect of the cerebellum that is currently unknown to neurobiologists and brain experts.
Falsifiable Biblical Prediction About the Cerebellum
According to my interpretation of the Biblical texts, the cerebellum is a supervised automaton. It is trained by the motor cortex to take over certain routine motor tasks whenever the basal ganglia and motor cortex are busy reasoning internally or engaging in some other motor activity. My understanding of the metaphorical messages to the church of Pergamum (Broca's area) and Laodicea (cerebellum) in the book of Revelation is that speech is always an attentional or volitional (as opposed to automatic) process that involves corrective feedback from the basal ganglia. The cerebellum is not directly involved in processing speech and language. The indication is that the cerebellum can have motor control over the entire body except the mouth, throat and tongue muscles. This means that activities like eating, chewing and swallowing are also excluded from cerebellar control.
How can this prediction be falsified? In my opinion, it suffices to examine the brain pathways that link the motor cortex with the cerebellum. The prediction is that there are no pathways between the cerebellum and any parts of the motor cortex that controls the mouth, speech, etc… Another way to falsify this prediction would be to use MRI images to observe cerebellar activities when a subject is speaking (in a relaxed position) and engaging in non-speech related activities. I predict that the data will support the claim that the cerebellum cannot produce speech.
Another interesting consequence to this prediction is that serious damage to the cerebellum should be accompanied by a loss of speech capability while the subject is engaged in other motor activities (e.g., walking). The reason is that the subject can no longer rely on the cerebellum for routine tasks (while speaking) and must consciously attend to them. We can only attend to one conscious task at a time. This is why the cerebellum is so important. I suspect that it would take some time for the subject to train him/herself to sit or lay down in order to regain the ability to speak.
More falsifiable predictions to come…