Dear Scott Adams,
Thank you for your efforts to make our days a little bit less dark with your daily Dilbert strip, even if your primary motivation is to make your meals a little bit more tasty. To put it in another way: Thank you for choosing Dilbert as the path to follow for more tasty meals, or anything else that could contribute to your happiness, including dentist's office assistants.
The main subject of this open letter is Intelligent Design and the three post you served us last month [1, 2, 3]. A friend of mine have pointed me to your blog, knowing my implication on the subject recently. You've done a great job stirring up $#!T and adding to the confusion; reading your first post make me feel uncomfortable, not as much as the PZ fellow you mention in the second one. You are confusing even when you want to make things clear! And that's the fun ingredient in your cartoons.
Coming to the debate concerning Intelligent Design and Darwinism this is tricky, especially if you are seeking clear information to make your mind. The first question that was asked is: Is the Intelligent Design theory a scientific one? - According to the definition of "scientific", the answer is no. The main problem is that the fathers of the Intelligent Design are scientists and therefor they would like their theory to be accepted as such. As if scientist were unable to do anything else then acting scientifically.
The reason for not accepting it as a scientific one is simple. It lacks "refutability", and this have nothing to do with any competition with Darwinism. It just haven't this ingredient to make it a scientific theory; all it could pretend for, is the qualification as "scientific hypothesis". Where Darwinism come in the debate is that there isn't really necessary to spend time and efforts to build a new hypothesis; Darwinism covers our needs for the moment. Generaly, you need to be in front of observations unexplainable (and not just unexplained) by Darwinism, before starting to build new hypothesis and spending what is necessary to raise it to the scientific theory grade. Sitting in front of a complex biological feature, being marveled by it's complexity and deciding that it's unexplainable because you don't see how it evolved, then deciding that this must be the product of some superior intelligence, can't be qualified as scientific; there is another adjective for that: mystic. And I don't think you will find many scientist that will object to qualify the Intelligent Design theory as mystic.
Then there are people like you.
Logging three time: I DON'T believe in Intelligent Design. People, you are a pain in our scientific ass. Science isn't about beliefs, it's about knowledge. That doesn't means that you shouldn't believe to things, just that you should avoid to bring that on a scientific discussion.
Or saying that: If you find 50 Homo Erectus skeletons, it’s still only one relevant one as far as demonstrating human evolution. The others are somewhat extra from an argument standpoint. You are wrong! You have forgotten in your argument that the spatial and temporal distribution of each one is relevant to sustain the dynamic process which the Darwinism evolution model defend; making each of them unique from an argument standpoint. Scientists could take the time to correct each one of your misinterpretations. And they do so. At special places called universities, where you can attend classes treating the matter. And for those unable to be there, they even write books to be read by people comfortably installed, during week-ends. But you do argue despite the fact that you admit that you don't have any relevant scientific knowledge!
Or saying that You can't argue with the people who MAKE the definitions. Sure you can, you even MUST argue with them; that's collegiality and it's essential for Science to be credible. As a scientist I would hate being believed by you, or any one else, when I'm presenting my scientific positions. If you have the knowledge to discuss matters I would like to convince you. Else, I would like to be trusted as a representative of my discipline. Certainly not believed!
You go further, making the opposition to teaching the Intelligent Design theory in science classes seem like a weakness, saying that there isn't any reason not to use it as a counterexample of what is scientific. Fair enough. Would you like to transform a science class to a catalog of what isn't science? Do you think that there is enough time to talk about what isn't science AND teach science? Your example comparing astrology and astronomy is great. And could be completed: "Kids, astronomy is science and astrology isn’t. Darwinism is science and Intelligent Design isn't. Now, let's talk about science: astrology and darwinism". That doesn't mean that you will teach astrology and Intelligent Design. Right?
My last comment will be about the "thought experiment" you propose in your third post about ID. To your question "Should teachers be allowed to tell science students about the lightning messages?" the answer is clearly yes, adding that, there are no further scientific clues about how lighting could seem so directed. It would be really fun to be in front of this schema.
There is a little piece of scientific literature that you might enjoy reading: Message in the sky. Very much like your though experiment but from a more scientific point of view. And if you read french, you may enjoy my comments on it.
Thank you for being out there, it's a pleasure reading you.
P.S. You may want to consider some other blogging platform. Blogger is quite nice ;-)