Response to Gabriel
|August 24, 2008||Posted by Dave S. under Intelligent Design|
I made the following response in the commentary on another thread. Because some people thought it deserved to become an article in its own right… here it is.
Also with an apology to Jonathan Wells for calling him a “Moonie”. I had no idea it was considered by many to be derogatory. I thought it was merely a neutral descriptive like “Jehovah” or “Mormon” or “Amish”.
don’t try to tell me that Christianity is not the engine running the ID movement
Obviously then we’re already guilty by association in your mind.
Guilt by association is a logical fallacy.
You can’t ask any ID proponents to give up their religious faith anymore than you can ask an atheist Darwinist to acquire some religious faith. That isn’t how science works.
However, since I’m not a religious person I can quite easily give up any notion that the designer of either the universe or of life itself is a deity. I have no data on the nature of the designer other than what I can determine through the nature of the design.
Now I’d like to ask you if it is true that either 1) life was designed in part or in whole or 2) life was not designed in any part. Is this a valid dichotomy? Is there a middle ground between the two choices?
If you agree that’s a valid dichotomy then is it true that some scientists are claiming and teaching that life was not designed?
If this is true then, and remembering your own concession (which I agree with) that there are no proofs in science, and the history of the origin and diversification of life is shrouded in millions and billions of years of antiquity (I accept both an old earth and universal common descent as the best current explanations for empiric observations), how can this claim be falsified?
I put to you that the claim can not be truly falsified as that would require proof of design and in science there are no proofs. It may only be rendered more doubtful than design in the heirarchy of possible explanations. It can be rendered more doubtful by either negative evidence (flaws) in the non-design theory itself and by positive evidence of design theory. Positive evidence has been ruled out of the question by definition rather than by analysis. Even though SETI, for example, can legitimately search through cosmic radio patterns in the universe for intelligent agency without any clue or promise of being able to discover the nature or source of the intelligence, it seems that applying the same search parameters to patterns found in living things or patterns in the laws that govern the universe, is no longer “science” as it is in SETI. A double standard is brought to light.
Other positive evidence of intelligent agency is 1) we know it exists in the universe today (it is ourselves) so we know that intelligent agency is possible and 2) the same agency is capable of doing the kind of things that need to be done to plan and/or alter the course of evolution for purposeful ends (designing and/or changing heritable DNA sequences; i.e. genetic engineering).
So we offer positive evidence that detection of design is an acceptable scientific methodology used in many disciplines (cryptology, forensic sciences, archeology, SETI, and so forth), we offer positive evidence that an intelligent designing agency is extant at least in the modern universe which proves that such agency can and does exist in nature, and we offer positive evidence, by demonstration, that intelligent agency is capable of the necessary tasks in directing or steering the course of organic evolution. We lack a smoking gun but that’s not unexpected when the trigger was pulled millions or billions of years ago. The gun and the weilder may no longer exist but the putative bullet holes (the effects), so to speak, remain for us to examine.
The counter-claim that chance & necessity is capable of the necessary tasks has not been demonstrated. It has not been shown that small mutations can ever accumulate into significant novel functional architectures that we observe in living things today. It has not been shown feasible by computer simulations of population genetics, in a laboratory, or in field observation. Yet this undemonstrated means of achieving grand ends has a legally enforced privilege of being the only possible explanation for the origin and diversity of life taught to our children in public schools. It is illegal to question the exclusive theory in a public school (see the Cobb County, Georgia “sticker” case where a disclaimer sticker attached to a biology textbook saying “evolution is a theory, not a fact, and should be critically examined” was ruled unconstitutional) and where mention of the name of any alternative to evolution by pure chance & necessity is also illegal (see Dover, PA trial where a verbal advisory to students that there exist alternative explanations to evolution by chance alone such as intelligent design was ruled unconstitutional).
So what do you propose we do? The gatekeepers of scientific orthodoxy, by majority rule (since when did science become decided by majorities?), or by claiming constitutional authority, who are demonstrably (we have the appropriate surveys to show) a majority composed of atheists, have a vested interest in the exclusionary practices set forth above to further entrench and expand their worldview in all segments of public schooling from kindergarten through post-doctorate.
How do you propose we respond to these unfair, Draconian methods arrayed against us? We do what we can to fight them in the courts where they block our right to have our children taught about the weaknesses of current theory and the nature of alternative theories, we do what we can to expose the ostracism, black balling, and career wrecking of scholars who support ID in public colleges and universities, we blog, we write books. We use whatever means are legally and ethically available to thwart or workaround the gatekeeper’s exclusionary practices. Is any of what we do somehow wrong or unfair in your opinion?
And please do me the courtesy of acknowledging that in no case did I use the holy bible (which I consider to be no more than a collection of stories, myths, legends, and largely unverifiable eyewitness accounts created and/or compiled by human authors with human agendas) to support my case in any fashion. My irreligious nature may not be a majority in ID circles but that doesn’t seem to have excluded me from it. Bill Dembski’s co-author in his latest book, Jonathan Wells, who is also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, is a Moonie for Pete’s sake. Wells believes some living dude in Korea or somewhere similar named the Reverend Moon is the messiah. It’s hard to imagine a more anti-Christian religion than holding out someone other than Christ as the savior. Yet Moonie Wells and agnostic David Scot Springer (me) are still solidly in the ID camp inner circles. Berlinski and Stein are Jews. The ID community is largely composed of Christians, that’s true, but the U.S. population is largely composed of Christians. One should expect that the frequency of different religious beliefs of ID adherents would reflect that of population in general if there is no religious bias, and it more or less does reflect that distribution. It reflects that distribution a hell of a lot more than the gatekeepers of scientific orthodoxy embodied in the National Academy of Science which is, survey says, composed of 70% positive atheists, 21% agnostics, and 9% believers in some sort of deity. THAT, my friend, is WAY out of line with the general population. If you want to talk about religious conspiracies in the science establishment I’ve got the smoking gun for you and it ain’t Christians holding it.