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Intelligent String Theory Design - Patently Falsifiable


String Theory by Marlene Healey Prediction plays a crucial role in the continuing debate of whether string theory and intelligent design are linked by a common lack of falsifiability. Here’s how this argument goes:

1) ID does not make predictions that are testable, and therefore not falsifiable, failing Popper’s main criteria for categorization of a theory as scientific.

2) String Theory has not produced a prediction that is testable because it requires that there exist objects that are simply not observable - e.g extra dimensions. Therefore it is also not a scientific theory, making it analagous to ID (in a falsifiability sense).

It follow then that if you dismiss ID, you have to dismiss string theory. (See, e.g. W. Dembski’s Uncommon Dissent blog)

But do you? An interesting argument against this conclusion is provided by Amanda Gefter’s editorial in the Philly Inquirer titled A Scientific Leap Without the Faith. Gefter points out the distinct difference between string theory and ID as one of explanatory power combined with the internal elegance of the mathematics. In fact, it is the presence of mathematics that provides the oomph that catapults string theory over ID:

In the meantime, mathematical consistency could provide its own sort of falsification. Mathematics is the language science uses to describe the world, and if the equations of a theory lead to nonsensical results, the theory is mathematically falsified. Intelligent design cannot be described mathematically, so, to use physicist Wolfgang Pauli's famous phrase, "it's not even wrong."

You can be sure that there are many who disagree with Gefter. In fact, the link to Gefter I have provided is from a conservative site - The Free Republic - so reading the comments that follow Gerter’s piece is informative. The tone of these responses are pretty consistent - string physicists are relying on faith just as much as ID’ers - so ID can’t be dismissed by "hypocritical" scientists.

Of course, this position doesn’t prove whether ID is valid or not.

For that, one has to turn to a scientific look at ID. The best scientific summary of arguments against the validity of ID I have read is The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name by Jerry Coyne, who as the title implies, sees a deep connection between religious conservatism and the proclivity to accept ID. It is essential reading for ID’ers & evolutionists.

And string theorists.