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Saturday, May 06, 2006

"Science" vs ID

Fascinating.

However, I believe that Peter Ward (anti-ID) missed a key assumption in this debate. He assumes that human intelligence can be made distinct from nature. If he thinks we all came from nature alone, then it would not be suprising that intelligence is reflected in nature, because it would be reflected in us.

As such, I do think the real debate is more philosophical and that the 'motive mongering' (as Stephen Meyer so aptly stated) as well as the theory-skeptics (as Mr Ward so poorly defended) and religious implications (as perhaps one of the only substantive points Mr Ward contributed) have caused this particular theory to become political. It's like arguments within small nuclear families - they're often about something else.

Here, people really want to argue about religion or politics, and as such have no problem finding those angles productive (even though the lead nowhere). Scientists have recreated these arguments by bandying about whether ID is a "theory" or not. Religious believers recreate it by pushing the claims of ID (and evolution) further than they belong. Politicians recreate it by separating into camps, vilifying the other side, and coming up with catchy slogans.

So what's it all about? Opposing worldviews and the inability to express them properly.

Michael Ruse (a philosopher of biology and opponent of ID) seems to understand this well (as well as another blogger I know), as an article in the Boston Globe May 2005 points out:
All told, Ruse claims, loading values onto the platform of evolutionary science constitutes ''evolutionism,'' an outlook that goes far beyond the scientific acceptance of evolution as a means of explaining the origins and development of species. Provocatively, Ruse argues that evolutionism has often constituted a ''religion'' itself by offering ''a world picture, a story of origins, and a special place for humans,'' while its proponents have been ''trying deliberately to do better than Christianity.''
Interestingly enough, the hope that the scientists who claim to be impartial will come to grips with the larger implications of the work they do (and that of the larger worldview) is mirrored in their own hope that ID proponents will realize the importance of the religious 'affiliations' that may indirectly control the theory's interests. However, to this point I would argue that the religious are more easily able to realize these consequences than the areligious, who it seems would prefer a certain amount of naivete in a the false grasp for impartiality.

What do you know? Naturalism vs Religion. Who could've guessed?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the links to my posts, by the way...

    You nailed it with this phrase:

    the areligious, who it seems would prefer a certain amount of naivete in a the false grasp for impartiality.

    Working among the areligious, for the most part, I see that naivete all the time. On the other hand, when you're perfectly willing to admit partiality, as I think we as Christians ought to be, it becomes a whole lot easier to be at least partly objective.

    When it comes to ID vs. evolution, I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I worry about the theological implications of locking God down into an particular "design" framework, but I also know that many, if not most, evolutionists take their theory far beyond the data into bad philosophy. I doubt I'll ever be able to come to a firm conclusion beyond simply that God created the world.

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  2. Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate your thoughts.

    I must echo your thoughts on ID vs evolution (finishing with a resolute "I don't know"), but what really interested me in the debate was not the bare facts about each topic, but the attitudes each debater seemed to bear, the attitudes I've heard in past debates, and how that interacts with the inherent difficulty of taking such a stand without discussing the [very relevant IMHO] philosophical implications.

    To put it another way, I'm tired of hearing about what we can know, and am more interested in specifying what we can't know.

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  3. To put it another way, I'm tired of hearing about what we can know, and am more interested in specifying what we can't know.

    Or, even better, specifying by which methods we can know what. I think there's a lot we can "know" by theology and philosophy that science cannot touch. The problem lies, in my opinion, when scientists exclude from the definition of "knowledge" anything that is outside their purview.

    I wish I had time to listen to that debate...

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