Centennial Museum gecko logo

Desert Diary
Biology/Intelligent Design


Apparently one of the hardest concepts for many students to grasp is that science depends on being able to potentially disprove explanations rather than prove them (meaning 100% assurance of being right). But being 100% sure is no easy thing; unavailable data can always turn around and bite the too-confident.

Take continental drift, where especially arrogant geologists until the 1960s thought it proven that continents couldn't move. Boy, were they wrong! On the other hand, good evidence that an explanation is wrong kills the acceptance of that theory, at least pending new data or modified ideas. The hypothesis that flame was the escape of a substance from a fuel died when it was shown that sometimes material was added during burning. The dependence of science on the opportunity to show something wrong, if indeed it is wrong, means that an explanation has to have some way to be tested. And this is where the so-called Intelligent Design theory shows itself to be outside of science, for there is no way yet demonstrated that could show it scientifically to be invalid.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.



Scott, E. C. 2004. Evolution vs. creationism. An introduction. Greenwood Press, Westport, CN. 273 pp.

Web Resources

National Center for Science Education