Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If Intelligent Design Were a Scientific Theory

If Intelligent Design Were a Scientific Theory

(revision 1)

A short screenplay written by Ramin Honary


Copyright © December 23, 2008.
The author has released the full text of this document to the public domain in the hopes that it will be useful as an educational aid. As such, this text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Please be sure you understand the terms of the license before you copy this document in any way to any medium. The license text is available at: <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html>.

News Anchor:

And now, some "good news" for the scientific community, a recent breakthrough by the Discovery Institutes's research and development team has discovered the force field that occurs naturally as a result of the presence of God. This research has led to the invention of the worlds first working Theometer, a device that can predict when and where God will appear. Dr. John Priestley is the leader of the research team which made this breakthrough scientific discovery, he is here with us in the studio, Dr. Priestly, thank you for joining us!

Dr. Priestley:

(smiles and nods acknowledging to the anchor person) Thank you for having me!

News Anchor:

Dr. Priestley, would you mind giving us a brief history of the work which led to this remarkable discovery?

Dr. Priestley:

Certainly. Well, it all started as part an initiative to publish more useful scientific data to verify Intelligent Design theory...

News Anchor:

...which of course is the theory that all living things are designed by an Intelligent Agent such as Jesus.

Dr. Priestley:

Exactly. The problem was that Intelligent Design theory posits the existence of an Intelligent Agent -- as you said, Jesus -- which, until recently, was completely without any scientific definition. Then, last year Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, approached us and basically said, "hey, we need a mathematical model for Jesus or no one will ever take our theory seriously. After all, Darwin's theory of Evolution can be expressed mathematically to perform computer simulations."

News Anchor:

(Surprised) There are computer simulations of Darwin's Theory of Evolution? (makes a disgusted face when saying "Darwin")

Dr. Priestley:

There have been some simulations that they call Evolutionary Computation Algorithms.

News Anchor:

Uh, huh.

Dr. Priestley:

...So we figure, how hard could it be to do the same for Intelligent Design?" So we consulted The Bible, specifically Numbers, Genesis, Exodus, and Acts I and II, and discovered that God had already explained exactly how to define the Christ as a math formula, thus defining what exactly Intelligent Agent really means in concrete scientific terms.

News Anchor:

Well wait a minute, I've read those books as well and I never saw any math formulas.

Dr. Priestley:

Well of course, you need to pray to Jesus for knowledge as well, it wouldn't give you the answer to just read the Bible because it helps everyone differently.

News Anchor:

Oh, of course.

Dr. Priestley:

So, after praying diligently every day for, oh I would say a good 40 days and 40 nights, the mathematical formulas miraculously appeared to me and several of my grad students in a dream.

News Anchor:

Wow, that must have been really exciting!

Dr. Priestley:

Yes it was! It was, without question, the most wonderful moment in my career! We were all crying and praising the lord, but of course we were still humble. We knew all of our work was still ahead of us. After a great deal of work, we were finally able to develop a method to test these math formulas.

News Anchor:

Test? But didn't you already know the formulas were correct? They did come from Jesus, after all.

Dr. Priestley:

They did come from Jesus, so we were completely certain the formulas were correct. But in science, a math formula alone is only a model. You absolutely must verify your model with experimental data before you can consider it a valid scientific theory.

News Anchor:

Which is why Intelligent Design theory had been so controversial?

Dr. Priestley:

That's exactly right. Without a mathematical model and falsifiable data to verify it, the scientific community would never accept any such theory, no matter how convenient it is to Christians. That the term Intelligent Agent was undefined was precisely why, until now, no scientist in his right mind would have ever accepted the theory of Intelligent Design. In fact, it was often the case that professors who would try to publish a paper in intelligent design would loose their tenure, or even possibly be fired for incompetence.

News Anchor:

Right, which is what that documentary "Expelled" by Ben Stein was about, right?

Dr. Priestley:

Yes, Ben Stein had made a movie about that. So anyway, now that we had a working formula that mathematically defined the Intelligent Agent of Intelligent Design theory, we simply had to design some experiments to test it, which led to the development of the Theometer.

News Anchor:

OK, so could you explain more about the Theometer? ...In like really easy, non-scientific terms?

Dr. Priestley:

Sure. Well basically, God moves throughout the universe much like how clouds move across the sky on a cloudy, windy day. He is always present, but is always changing shape; God is always in a state of flux. At any given time, some places have a higher concentration of God, and some places have a lower concentration.

News Anchor:

Whoa! Brain overload!

Dr. Priestley:

Well, the important thing to remember is that in any given place in the universe, like in this very room for example, there may be a positive amount of God, or a negative amount.

News Anchor:

A negative amount? Like if the room temperature goes below zero?

Dr. Priestley:

Exactly, like sometimes the temperature can go below zero, that would be a "negative temperature." Likewise, a below zero amount of God, would indicate a "negative amount" of God, and of course a negative amount of God would indicate the presence of Satan.

News Anchor:

OK, that's a bit too much math for me, but I think I get it. Your saying you can predict Jesus or Satan like how the weather guy can predict the temperature?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, sort of. It would be like a "Jesus thermometer", if we were to use the temperature analogy.

News Anchor:

OK, this is still way over my head, but I think I get the basic idea now. So, what could this Theometer be useful for?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, all sorts of things. In a recent double-blind experiment, we found we could predict with better than 70% accuracy exactly when a person would be overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and start speaking in tongues.

News Anchor:

Wow! That would be very handy, especially to me as a news anchor.

Dr. Priestley:

Me too. Just the other day I was at a conference hosted by the National Science Foundation, and I started speaking in tongues right as I started to give my presentation. It was wonderful, but it also put us behind schedule by about twenty minutes. With this new Jesus-predictive technology, that will hopefully be less of a concern.

News Anchor:

Very handy! And you also mentioned you can predict the Devil, so does that mean you can also predict demonic possession?

Dr. Priestley:

Indeed we can, but its accuracy is just a little bit less than 60%.

News Anchor:

Still, that's pretty good.

Dr. Priestley:

Well, it will get better as our technology improves. The most important thing is that our technology will make Satan a bit easier to predict.

News Anchor:

That's great! It is always so scary when one of my kids or myself becomes possessed by a demon, and then someone has to call the priest, and he has to do an exorcism, and ugh! It's just no fun.

Dr. Priestley:

Yes, it is a big problem. In fact, the the Discovery Institute estimates that up to 11% of all prayer services are interrupted by demonic possession, and that number has been increasingly slowly but steadily ever since the year 2000.

News Anchor:

That's a lot, isn't it? Well, it looks like now there is something more we can do other than beating up liberals to maybe reduce the number of demonic possessions in our Churches?

Dr. Priestley:

Fortunately yes, although I wouldn't stop beating up liberals if I were you.

News Anchor:

Obviously. So it's not only useful at home, but it can improve our Church life as well, it seems.

Dr. Priestley:

Almost any new technology can improve the quality of life. But probably more importantly, its a safe bet that this research will improve national security as well. We may be able to, for example, predict who is a terrorist -- or anyone who is permanently possessed by the devil for that matter: gays, Mormons... Or we could, say, determine whether or not the president has made a decision while he is under the influence of Lucifer, these kind of things.

News Anchor:

You think the president is at risk of being possessed?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, George W. Bush was completely safe, that much is certain. But the Discovery Institute scientists estimates that Barrack Obama has, so far as president, been possessed by Satan at least once every five days.

News Anchor:

That's much worse than president Bush!

Dr. Priestley:

Well, we can only hope Obama makes use of our Theometer technology, as he claims to be such a technology lover all the time. However, given the chief science adviser and chief technology adviser he has appointed to his cabinet, Obama probably won't even touch a Theometer, that stupid little... But I digress.

News Anchor:

Now, you mentioned earlier that Darwin's Theory of Evolution (makes a disgusted face when saying "Darwin") had been converted to a computer simulation? Will you release your Theometer as computer software?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, the Theometer requires special technology that can't be created using only software. The computer simulations of Darwin's Theory of Evolution (makes a disgusted face when saying "Darwin") simulate the theory of Evolution. One example of this is called evolutionary computation. Likewise we can program our Intelligent Agent equations -- the Jesus equations -- into a computer to simulate the theory of Intelligent Design.

News Anchor:

So will you create your Intelligent Design software based on these Intelligent Agent equations?

Dr. Priestley:

We already have actually, it's a fantastic teaching tool. You can download a demo from the Discover Institute's website; the full version is $199. It's so easy to use, anyone can use it! The best thing about it is it's simplicity. I saw some of these Evolutionary Computation programs, you had to be a math genius to use them! They demanded that every parameter be defined; they had these overly-complicated random number generators to simulate "random genetic mutations", and they had what you called these "fitness functions" and "cost functions" which were super-complex math equations that simulated the natural selection of Evolution theory.

News Anchor:

(Staring blankly) ...uhh, sounds complicated!

Dr. Priestley:

It was incredibly complicated. Any great scientists knows that the best and most beautiful math and science theories are beautiful because they are simple. The Intelligent Design software is so simple, it is profoundly beautiful! Of course, that is to be expected as the Intelligent Agent equation was taught to us by Jesus.

News Anchor:

So what does your software do?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, like I said, it simulates Intelligent Design in the same way Evolutionary Computation simulates Darwin's Theory of Evolution (makes a disgusted face when saying "Darwin"), except it is much more simple and beautiful. So basically, you double-click the icon to run the software and the first thing you see a world that has already been created by God up to the fifth day of creation according to the book of Genesis. You may then create all living creatures on this virtual earth. So for example, if you want to create a dog, you would select "dog" from the animals menu and then click the mouse to place the dog on the earth. The simulation then makes a male and female dog appear on the earth, and they can have cute little puppies and everything. And that's it! There is nothing more to it!

News Anchor:

Wow, that is much simpler!

Dr. Priestley:

...And therefore much more profound, beautiful, and correct. And the puppies and kittens and other animals are so cute! It's much better than those vile, disgusting creatures in some other software programs, like "Spore" for example.

News Anchor:

I almost fainted when I saw my friend's children playing "Spore." So what do you see in the future as a result of this scientific breakthrough?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, undoubtedly, this will lead to a revolution even bigger than that of the invention of electricity by Benjamin Franklin in 1752. Now we have computers, the Internet -- which of course runs on electrical computers -- and all kinds of wonderful electrical things. I don't think anyone could imagine what wonders of technology will result from our research twenty, even ten years from now! I envision a galactic network of Theometers that could possibly predict the second coming of the Christ.

News Anchor:

So what is the immediate future of this research?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, our research lab is currently just trying to improve the accuracy of our predictions. We think eventually we may be able to predict who will be saved by prayer and who will die as a result of God's mysterious plan. After all, God's mysterious plan is bound to be much less mysterious with this technology.

News Anchor:

Oh, that sounds very interesting!

Dr. Priestley:

Yes, our current experiment has a shotgun triggered by a random number generator pointed at someones head. If they pray really hard, they may be able to convince Jesus to affect the random number generator and spare their own lives.

News Anchor:

Now wait a minute, that sound's unethical!

Dr. Priestley:

Ordinarily it would be very unethical. Science usually takes great care not to cause harm to any living person. But keep in mind, we are doing the lords work. The shotgun is triggered by a random number generator, so if it kills someone it is not our fault because God decided it was just their time to die.

News Anchor:

Still, I wouldn't volunteer for that experiment!

Dr. Priestley:

It sound's like you doubt Jesus's power to save!

News Anchor:

No, no!

Dr. Priestley:

(laughing) I'm just kidding!

News Anchor:

(starts laughing) Oh, OK!

Dr. Priestley:

No seriously though, we all checked the Bible very thoroughly to make sure this experiment was ethical, and of course it confirmed what we already knew: that using a shotgun to kill people of my own free will would be wrong, but a randomly triggered shotgun killing people is perfectly ethical because free will isn't involved. Still, for additional safety, we also have prayer services several times a day to check with Jesus to make sure our experiment is ethical. Take my word for it, every single time He says the same thing, which is basically that I just have to do the experiment, and He will decide who is saved and who is not.

News Anchor:

Do you ever sit in front of the randomly triggered shotgun?

Dr. Priestley:

No, Jesus told me not to do that, so I just do what He says.

News Anchor:

I see. But don't you worry that maybe you are getting the wrong message from God, or perhaps that the Devil is influencing you to do unethical things?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, no, first of all the Theometer tells us that we are in the presence of Jesus when we pray.

News Anchor:

But you said it was only 70% accurate, didn't you?

Dr. Priestley:

Well, yes, But it is a moot point anyway. It doesn't matter how ethical or unethical you are because we are all sinful no matter what we do. Jesus only saves people who believe in Him. So we can conduct these deadly experiments and still be confident knowing that our volunteers and ourselves will still go to heaven. It depends solely on whether or not we believe in Jesus when we die.

News Anchor:

Oh, I knew that! (chuckles, a bit embarrassed) Now I feel I've made a fool of myself.

Dr. Priestley:

(laughing) Don't worry, its a very common mistake to think that being good means going to heaven.

News Anchor:

So now we can tell if our prayers are good or bad?

Dr. Priestley:

With a little more research, I think so. Really, what we are doing is testing if Jesus approaches you when you pray, and if He does approach you, how quickly or urgently He is willing to answer your prayers.

News Anchor:

I've always wanted to know if the way I pray is the way that Jesus likes most.

Dr. Priestley:

Well, come on down to our laboratory and we'll test you out!

News Anchor:

I think I might! And so you can now test if God approaches you when you pray, this would be useful in Churches, Hospitals...

Dr. Priestley:

Yes, but think of the sociological implications! Once this technology improves, we will be able to predict with much greater accuracy things like, for example, which soldiers will return home from battle and which soldiers we should pray for more diligently. Not only that, we can also prove which religion's prayers are more effective -- in other words we can prove with scientific accuracy exactly who God loves more!

News Anchor:

Which would be great news for the Jews!

Dr. Priestley:

...and the Muslims, and atheists, and anyone who isn't a Christian! At first our plan was just to prove why we should stop teaching Darwinian Evolution in schools (makes a disgusted face when saying "Darwin"), but there are just all kinds of good things that will come of this research.

News Anchor:

It's hard to believe we could have ever got along without this technology!

Dr. Priestley:

I feel the same way!

News Anchor:

Well, I'm afraid that's all the time we have for now. Dr. Priestley, thanks so much for being with us, and good luck with your research.

Dr. Priestley:

Well, I won't be needing luck (chuckles).

News Anchor:

(laughing)

Dr. Priestley:

It was my pleasure, thanks for having me!

News Anchor:

(to the audience) ...and up next a little boy from Tennessee is able to speak with the spirit of Jerry Falwell -- and predicts disaster for President Obama! Don't go away!

2 comments:

James said...

I predict great riches for President Obama and disaster for the nation. Those are just my predictions, Jerry and I just talk about football.

Dustin said...

What can I compare this to? One time, I saw on television a segment about a tribe whose initiation rite into manhood required them to stick their hands in mitts laced with biting fire ants for an extended period of time, while they danced in a circle to take their mind off the pain. They had to do this not once, but multiple times, to prove they were ready for the challenges of adulthood and adult status in their society. I didn't understand what would ever compel someone to do such a thing, and it has stayed with me ever since, bothering and upsetting me. I can't understand all the pain and what kind of a culture and history would involve such things.

If I took my irritation and wrote a screenplay based on it, steeped in self-serving, cathartic, lampooning propaganda, and with only the smallest picture of that tribal people's culture, which I had been brooding and forming opinions on in my free time, not the least bit educated into their culture (though I confess that were I to research and learn their culture and history, while I would understand the dynamics, this soothing would not equal my allegiance and admiration to their society) but if I wrote a screenplay with such ignorance as its basis, I would have a working parallel to yours.

It would wink at the audience the entire time, and people with my sense of humor could all share big laughs when TRIBAL ELDER says to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC WRITER, "We must appease the gods, because they get a big kick out of all the dance moves when we put those ant-filled gloves on the initiates." And NAT'L GEO. WRITER says in response, "And who could pass up entertainment like that! No wonder you have so many encores!"

As a side note, I hope "Acts I and II" was a botched joke that didn't play out as sarcastically as hoped, but I'll leave assuming it was one terribly ignorant inaccuracy among many.