Four arguments are examined in order to assess the state of the IntelligentDesign debate. First, critics continually cite the fact that ID proponents have religious motivations. When used as criticism of ID arguments, this is an obvious ad hominem. Nonetheless, philosophers and scientists alike continue to wield such arguments for their rhetorical value. Second, in his expert testimony in the Dover trial, philosopher Robert Pennock used repudiated claims in order to brand ID as a kind of pseudoscience. (...) His arguments hinge on the nature of methodological naturalism as a metatheoretic shaping principle. We examine the use of such principles in science and the history of science. Special attention is given to the demarcation problem. Third, the scientific merits of ID are examined. Critics rightly demand more than promissory notes for ID to move beyond the fringe. Fourth, although methodological naturalism gets a lot of attention, there is another shaping principle to contend with, namely, conservatism. Science, like most disciplines, tends to change in an incremental rather than revolutionary manner. When ID is compared to other non- or quasi-Darwinian proposals, it appears to be a more radical solution than is needed in the face of the anomalies. (shrink)
In his recent anthology, IntelligentDesign Creationism and Its Critics, Robert Pennock continues his attack on what he considers to be the pseudoscience of IntelligentDesign Theory. In this critical review, I discuss the main issues in the debate. Although the rhetoric is often heavy and the articles are intentionally stacked against IntelligentDesign, there are many interesting topics in the philosophy of science to be found. I conclude that, contra Pennock, there is nothing (...) intrinsically unscientific about IntelligentDesign. At this stage, however, it remains more of a provocative idea than a research program. Whether design theorists can bridge this gap is still very much in question. In any case, the debate serves as a modern case study for such classic problems as the nature of scientific explanations, theory change, the demarcation problem, and the role of metaphysical assumptions in the development of science. (shrink)
A variety of different arguments have been offered for teaching ‘‘both sides’’ of the evolution/ID debate in public schools. This article reviews five of the most common types of arguments advanced by proponents of IntelligentDesign and demonstrates how and why they are founded on confusion and misunderstanding. It argues on behalf of teaching evolution, and relegating discussion of ID to philosophy or history courses.
Recently, the IntelligentDesign (ID) movement has challenged the claim of many in the scientific establishment that nature gives no empirical signs of having been deliberately designed. In particular, ID arguments in biology dispute the notion that neo-Darwinian evolution is the only viable scientific explanation of the origin of biological novelty, arguing that there are telltale signs of the activity of intelligence which can be recognized and studied empirically. In recent years, a number of Catholic philosophers, theologians, and (...) scientists have expressed opposition to ID. Some of these critics claim that there is a conflict between the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and that of the ID movement, and even an affinity between Aquinas’s ideas and theistic Darwinism. We consider six such criticisms and find each wanting. (shrink)
The so-called evolution wars (Futuyma 1995; Pigliucci 2002) between the scientific understanding of the history of life on earth and various religiously inspired forms of cre- ationism are more than ever at the forefront of the broader ‘‘science wars,’’ themselves a part of the even more encom- passing ‘‘cultural wars.’’ With all these conflicts going on, and at a time when a potentially historical case on the teach- ing of IntelligentDesign (ID) in public schools is being de- (...) bated in Pennsylvania, it may be useful to consider a number of books that have come out recently to help scientists and the public at large to understand what all the fuss is about. (shrink)
This paper aims at introducing a French audience to the IntelligentDesign debate. It starts by reviewing recent attacks on any possibility of a rational account of theism in light of the contemporary theory of evolution. A section is devoted to outlining the genesis of the "wedge" strategy, to distinguish it from young earth creationism, and to highlight the questioning of evolution as our meta-narrative bearing on overall conceptions of the scientific endeavor. The arguments propounded by Behe are (...) reviewed in detail, as the example of blood coagulation as a purported irreducibly complex mechanism is contrasted to the question of system boundaries. Counter-arguments by Miller are reviewed, and a few bottom-line questions are directed to invite a further consideration of the type of engineering this could testify to. The concept of complex specified information is then presented, and contrasted to traditional and lingering axiomatic problems in the theory of probabilities. The problem of the recognition of an intrinsic pattern is also brought together with some work in recent philosophy of causation and explanation. The two opposing strategies, naturalistic evolutionism and intelligentdesign, are seen as caught in each other's rhetoric, and some probing is offered in the direction of a theory that could surpass those stalling factors. (shrink)
Because there are omissions, simplifi- cations, and inaccuracies in some general biology textbooks, obviously the modern theory of evolution must be wrong. This is the astounding line of rea- soning that is the backbone of Jonathan Wells’s Icons of Evolution. It is the latest book in a series of neocreationist pro- ductions (this one dressed with the slightly more respectable label of “intel- ligent design theory” [Pigliucci 2000a]) to drive a stake into the perceived perni- ciousness of modern science, (...) and of bi- ology in particular. This is another astonishing example of the fact that evo- lution deniers seem to consider attacks on science popularizing to be genuine in- tellectual feats, as if they had found huge holes in the primary literature that con- stitutes the core of any respectable science. (shrink)
Intelligentdesign creationism (ID) is a religious belief requiring a supernatural creator’s interventions in the natural order. ID thus brings with it, as does supernatural theism by its nature, intractable epistemological difficulties. Despite these difficulties and despite ID’s defeat in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), ID creationists’ continuing efforts to promote the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms threaten both science education and the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. I (...) examine the ID movement’s failure to provide either a methodology or a functional epistemology to support their supernaturalism, a deficiency that consequently leaves them without epistemic support for their creationist claims. My examination focuses primarily on ID supporter Francis Beckwith, whose published defenses of teaching ID, as well as his other relevant publications concerning education, law, and public policy, have been largely exempt from critical scrutiny. Beckwith’s work exhibits the epistemological deficiencies of the supernaturally grounded views of his ID associates and of supernaturalists in general. I preface my examination of Beckwith’s arguments with (1) philosopher of science Susan Haack’s clarification of the established naturalistic methodology and epistemology of science and (2) discussions of the views of Beckwith’s ID associates Phillip Johnson and William Dembski. Finally, I critique the religious exclusionism that Beckwith shares with his ID associates and the implications of his exclusionism for public policy. (shrink)
i The 2005 decision by Judge John E. Jones in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was celebrated by all red-blooded American liberals as a victory over the forces of darkness. The result was probably inevitable, in view of the reckless expression by some members of the Dover School Board of their desire to put religion into the classroom, and the clumsiness of their prescribed statement in trying to dissimulate that aim.1 But the conﬂicts aired in this trial—over the status (...) of evolutionary theory, the arguments for intelligentdesign, and the nature of science—reveal an intellectually unhealthy situation. The political urge to defend science education against the threats of religious orthodoxy, understandable though it is, has resulted in a counterorthodoxy, supported by bad arguments, and a tendency to overstate the legitimate scientiﬁc claims of evolutionary theory. Skeptics about the theory are seen as so dangerous, and so disreputably motivated, that they must be denied any shred of.. (shrink)
While a great deal of abuse has been directed at intelligentdesign theory (ID), its starting point is a fact about biological organisms that cries out for explanation, namely "specified complexity" (SC). Advocates of ID deploy three kind of argument from specified complexity to the existence of a designer: an eliminative argument, an inductive argument, and an inference to the best explanation. Only the first of these merits the abuse directed at it; the other two arguments are worthy (...) of respect. If they fail, it is only because we have a better explanation of SC, namely Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. (shrink)
The intelligentdesign movement aspires to create a new scientific paradigm which will replace the existing Darwinian paradigm of evolution by random mutation and natural selection. However, the creation of such a paradigm is hampered by the fact that the movement pursues a 'big tent' strategy that refuses to make a choice between young-earth creationism, old-earth (progressive) creationism, and divinely directed natural selection. The latter two options are discussed in some detail, and it becomes apparent that either one (...) presents difficult challenges that the movement shows no signs of overcoming. It is concluded that there are not good prospects for the creation of an alternative paradigm in the foreseeable future. (shrink)
In recent controversies about IntelligentDesign Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of (...) the supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative. We will discuss five arguments that have been proposed in support of IMN: the argument from the definition of science, the argument from lawful regularity, the science stopper argument, the argument from procedural necessity, and the testability argument. We conclude that IMN, because of its philosophical flaws, proves to be an ill-advised strategy to counter the claims of IDC. Evolutionary scientists are on firmer ground if they discard supernatural explanations on purely evidential grounds, instead of ruling them out by philosophical fiat. (shrink)
IntelligentDesign creationism is often criticized for failing to be science because it falls afoul of some demarcation criterion between science and non-science. This paper argues that this objection to IntelligentDesign is misplaced because it assumes that a consistent non-theological characterization of IntelligentDesign is possible. In contrast, it argues that, if IntelligentDesign is taken to be non-theological doctrine, it is not intelligible. Consequently, a demarcation criterion cannot be used to (...) judge its status. This position has the added advantage of providing reasons to reject IntelligentDesign creationism without invoking potentially philosophically controversial demarcation criteria. (shrink)
Anyone new to the debate over intelligentdesign encounters many conflicting claims about whether it is science. A Washington Post front page story (Slevin 2005) asserts that intelligentdesign is “not science [but] politics.” In that same story, Barry Lynn, the director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, claims that intelligentdesign is merely “a veneer over a certain theological message,” thus identifying intelligentdesign not with science but with (...) religion. In a related vein, University of Copenhagen philosopher Jakob Wolf (2004) argues that intelligentdesign is not science but philosophy (albeit a philosophy useful for understanding science). And finally, proponents of intelligentdesign argue that it is indeed science (e.g., Dembski 2002a, ch. 6). Who is right? (shrink)
In the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Judge Jones ruled that a pro-intelligentdesign disclaimer cannot be read to public school students. In his decision, he gave demarcation criteria for what counts as science, ruling that intelligentdesign fails these criteria. I argue that these criteria are flawed, with most of my focus on the criterion of methodological naturalism. The way to refute intelligentdesign is not by (...) declaring it unscientific, but by showing that the empirical evidence for design is not there. (shrink)
This chapter offers a critique of intelligentdesign arguments against evolution and a philosophical discussion of the nature of science, drawing several lessons for the teaching of evolution and for science education in general. I discuss why Behe’s irreducible complexity argument fails, and why his portrayal of organismal systems as machines is detrimental to biology education and any under-standing of how organismal evolution is possible. The idea that the evolution of complex organismal features is too unlikely to have (...) occurred by random mutation and selection (as recently promoted by Dembski) is very widespread, but it is easy to show students why such small probability arguments are fallacious. While intelligentdesign proponents have claimed that the exclusion of supernatural causes mandated by scientific methods is dogmatically presupposed by science, scientists have an empirical justification for using such methods. This justification is instructive for my discussion of how to demarcate science from pseudoscience. I argue that there is no universal account of the nature of science, but that the criteria used to judge an intellectual approach vary across historical periods and have to be specific to the scientific domain. Moreover, intellectual approaches have to be construed as practices based on institutional factors and values, and to be evaluated in terms of the activities of their practitioners. Science educators should not just teach scientific facts, but present science as a practice and make students reflect on the nature of science, as this gives them a better appreciation of the ways in which intelligentdesign falls short of actual science. (shrink)
Intelligentdesign—the idea that a designing intelligence plays a substantive and empirically significant role in the natural world—no longer sits easily in our intellectual environment. Science rejects it for invoking an unnecessary teleology. Philosophy rejects it for committing an argument from ignorance. And theology rejects it for, as Edward Oakes contends, making the task of theodicy impossible.1 I want in this lecture to address all these concerns but especially the last. For many thinkers, particularly religious believers, intelligent (...)design exacerbates the problem of natural evil—intelligentdesign makes natural evil not an accident of natural history or a price exacted by evolution or a necessary consequence of creation’s freedom but an outcome fully intended by a sadistic designer. Or, as Robert Russell put it to me on the PBS program Uncommon Knowledge, “The notion of intelligentdesign is incoherent because it’s either a natural cause, in which case you don’t go anywhere, or it’s a divine cause, in which case you don’t have the biblical God.”2 The biblical God, presumably, would not design the rabies virus, the bubonic plague bacterium, or the mosquito. (shrink)
This paper addresses the intellectual motivation of some of those involved in the intelligentdesign movement. It identifies their concerns with the critique of the claim that Darwinism offers an adequate explanation of prima facie teleological features in biology, a critique of naturalism, and the concern on the part of some of these authors including Dembski, with the revival of 'Old Princeton' apologetics. It is argued that their work is interesting and is in principle intellectually legitimate. It is (...) also suggested, however, that it needs to be appraised qua 'research programme' (after the fashion of the early work of Lakatos), and that, seen in that light, what needs to be accomplished might seem daunting. (shrink)
Biological systems exhibit complexity at all levels of organization. It has recently been argued by Michael Behe that at the biochemical level a type of complexity exists--irreducible complexity--that cannot possibly have arisen as the result of natural, evolutionary processes and must instead be the product of (supernatural) intelligentdesign. Recent work on self-organizing chemical reactions calls into question Behe's analysis of the origins of biochemical complexity. His central interpretative metaphor for biochemical complexity, that of the well-designed mousetrap that (...) ceases to function if critical parts are absent, is undermined by the observation that typical biochemical systems exhibit considerable redundancy and overlap of function. Real biochemical systems, we argue, manifest redundant complexity--a characteristic result of evolutionary processes. (shrink)
This paper defends two theses about probabilistic reasoning. First, although modus ponens has a probabilistic analog, modus tollens does not – the fact that a hypothesis says that an observation is very improbable does not entail that the hypothesis is improbable. Second, the evidence relation is essentially comparative; with respect to hypotheses that confer probabilities on observation statements but do not entail them, an observation O may favor one hypothesis H1 over another hypothesis H2 , but O cannot be said (...) to confirm or disconfirm H1 without such relativization. These points have serious consequences for the IntelligentDesign movement. Even if evolutionary theory entailed that various complex adaptations are very improbable, that would neither disconfirm the theory nor support the hypothesis of intelligentdesign. For either of these conclusions to follow, an additional question must be answered: With respect to the adaptive features that evolutionary theory allegedly says are very improbable, what is their probability of arising if they were produced by intelligentdesign? This crucial question has not been addressed by the ID movement. (shrink)
Nature exhibits a rich variety of adaptations. Cells contain complex biomolecular structures, such as proteins, that are exquisitely adapted to perform specific biological functions. Evolutionary biology explains how biomolecular structures evolve. Intelligentdesign creationists reject evolutionary explanations. They want to believe that all adaptations in nature are the handiwork of God. Their critics aver that “it ain't necessarily so.” The anthology under review is an excellent display of the issues between intelligentdesign creationists and their critics. (...) I agree with the critics. (shrink)
To detractors, IntelligentDesign is creationism â€” the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis â€” in a thin guise, or simply vacuous, about as interesting as "I donâ€™t understand," as has always been true in the sciences before understanding is reached. Accordingly, there cannot be a "debate.".
That IntelligentDesign Creationism rejects the methodological naturalism of modern science in favor of a premodern supernaturalist worldview is well documented and by now well known. An irony that has not been sufficiently appreciated, however, is the way that ID Creationists try to advance their premodern view by adopting (if only tactically) a radical postmodern perspective. This paper will reveal the deep threads of postmodernism that run through the ID Creationist movement’s arguments, as evidenced in the writings and (...) interviews of its key leaders. Seeing their arguments and activities from this perspective highlights the danger to science posed by both ID Creationism and radical postmodernism. (shrink)
To reach the conclusion that the universe is infinite, physicists (a) make some observations; (b) fit those observations to some mathematical model; (c) find that the neatest model that accommodates the data extrapolates to an infinite universe; (d) conclude that the universe is infinite. In my presentation I will examine the logic by which physicists reach this conclusion. Specifically, I will show that there is no way to empirically justify the move from (b) to (c). An infinite universe should therefore (...) properly be viewed as a metaphysical hypothesis consistent with certain physical theories but hardly mandated by them. By contrast, I will argue that the hypothesis of intelligentdesign—that a designing intelligence has left clear marks of intelligence in the biophysical universe—is not a metaphysical hypothesis at all but a fully scientific one. In particular, I will argue that whereas an infinite universe does not (and indeed cannot) admit empirical evidence, intelligentdesign can. Finally, I will indicate why an infinite universe, though sometimes introduced to get around the problem of design, in fact cannot get around it. (shrink)
With its metaphors of war and calls to martyrdom, the IntelligentDesign (ID) Creationist movement is reigniting old animosities between religion and science. This article discusses several of the key religious controversies involving ID Creationism, especially the flaws in William Dembski’s defense of ID. It also rebuts his charge that science’s naturalistic method is a “pre-modern sin” and shows how this is a problem not for science but for ID, which aims to resurrect occult explanations. Contrary to Demski’s (...) claim, methodological naturalism is not a constraint upon the world but a constraint upon science. The difference between science and creationism is like the difference between seeing hurricanes and thunderstorms as natural disasters rather than as acts of God. (shrink)
When proponents of IntelligentDesign (ID) theory deny that their theory is religious, the minimalistic theory they have in mind (the mini-ID theory) is the claim that the irreducibly complex adaptations found in nature were made by one or more intelligent designers. The denial that this theory is religious rests on the fact that it does not specify the identity of the designer—a supernatural God or a team of extra-terrestrials could have done the work. The present paper (...) attempts to show that this reply underestimates the commitments of the mini-ID Theory. The mini-ID theory, when supplemented with four independently plausible further assumptions, entails the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer. It is further argued that scientific theories, such as the Darwinian theory of evolution, are neutral on the question of whether supernatural designers exist. (shrink)
I was recently on an NPR program with skeptic Michael Shermer and paleontologist Donald Prothero to discuss intelligentdesign. As the discussion unfolded, it became clear that they were using the phrase "intelligentdesign" in a way quite different from how the emerging intelligentdesign community is using it.
Proponents of intelligentdesign have been remarkably successful, at least in the United States, in creating a cultural movement. They have also been remarkably successful at exasperating a scientific and intellectual world that dismisses intelligentdesign as the latest incarnation of creationism—more sophisticated than previous incarnations to be sure, but with many of the old faults. In this paper I want to focus on intelligentdesign’s merits as an intellectual project. I will show that (...) the questions it raises are legitimate and cannot be dismissed on a priori grounds. Having demonstrated that intelligentdesign constitutes a valid intellectual project, I want next to review intelligentdesign’s progress to date. Finally, I will indicate certain milestones that intelligentdesign needs to achieve before it can expect broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a fruitful contribution to our understanding of the natural world. (shrink)
Key Words creation science, evolution education s Abstract Creationism, the rejection of evolution in favor of supernatural design, comes in many varieties besides the common young-earth Genesis version. Creationist attacks on science education have been evolving in the last few years through the alliance of different varieties. Instead of calls to teach “creation science,” one now ﬁnds lobbying for “intelligentdesign” (ID). Guided by the Discovery Institute’s “Wedge strategy,” the ID movement aims to overturn evolution and what (...) it sees as a pernicious materialist worldview and to renew a theistic foundation to Western culture, in which human beings are recognized as being created in the image of God. Common ID arguments involving scientiﬁc naturalism, “irreducible complexity,” “complex speciﬁed information,” and “icons of evolution,” have been thoroughly examined and refuted. Nevertheless, from Kansas to Ohio to the U.S. Congress, ID continues lobbying to teach the controversy, and scientists need to be ready to defend good evolution education. (shrink)
Intelligentdesign begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? To see what’s at stake, consider Mount Rushmore. The evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design is direct—eyewitnesses saw the sculptor Gutzon Borglum spend the better part of his life designing and building this structure. But what if there were no direct evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design? What (...) if humans went extinct and aliens, visiting the earth, discovered Mount Rushmore in substantially the same condition as it is now? (shrink)
Until recently, little attention has been paid in the school classroom to creationism and almost none to intelligentdesign. However, creationism and possibly intelligentdesign appear to be on the increase and there are indications that there are more countries in which schools are becoming battle-grounds over them. I begin by examining whether creationism and intelligentdesign are controversial issues, drawing on Robert Dearden's epistemic criterion of the controversial and more recent responses to and (...) defences of this. I then examine whether the notion of ‘worldviews’ in the context of creationism is a useful one by considering the film March of the Penguins. I conclude that the ‘worldviews’ perspective on creationism is useful for two reasons: first it indicates the difficulty of using the criterion of reason to decide whether an issue is controversial or not; secondly, it suggests that standard ways of addressing the diversity of student views in a science classroom may be inadequate. I close by examining the implications of this view for teaching in science lessons and elsewhere, for example in religious education lessons and citizenship lessons and at primary level where subject divisions cannot be made in so clear-cut a manner. (shrink)
The design argument for the existence of God took a probabilistic turn in the 17th and 18th centuries. Earlier versions, such as Thomas Aquinas’ 5th way, usually embraced the premise that goaldirected systems (things that “act for an end” or have a function) must have been created by an intelligent designer. This idea – which we might express by the slogan “no design without a designer” – survived into the 17th and 18th centuries,1 and it is with (...) us still in the writings of many creationists. The new version of the argument, inspired by the emerging mathematical theory of probability, removed the premise of necessity. It begins with the thought that goal-directed systems might have arisen by intelligentdesign or by chance; the problem is to discern which hypothesis is more plausible. With the epistemic concept of plausibility characterized in terms of the mathematical concept of probability, the design argument was given a new direction. (shrink)
Intelligentdesign theorists claim that their theory is neutral as to the identity of the intelligent designer, even with respect to whether it is a natural or a supernatural agent. In a recent issue of Faith and Philosophy, Elliott Sober has argued that in fact the theory is not neutral on this issue, and that it entails theexistence of a supernatural designer. I examine Sober’s argument and identify several hurdles it must overcome.
This article shows how Bernard Lonergan's philosophy of science can bring resolution to a recent controversy: the controversy that arises from IntelligentDesign theorists' and proponents of neo-Darwinian evolution. IntelligentDesign theories argue that the complex structures of living organisms cannot be adequately explained by neo-Darwinian theories, especially by its postulate of random variations. Hence, an "intelligent designer" must be postulated in order to fill out scientific explanations. This article finds fault with the Intelligent (...)Design arguments, but proposes a different form of design argument–one that accepts neo-Darwinian evolution (or something very much like it). It shows how Lonergan's analysis of scientific methods grounds his account of evolution, and how much this can overcome the most basic IntelligentDesign objections. It then shows how Lonergan's philosophy of God also can offer a design argument based, not in the complexity of this or that organism, but in the "design" of evolution itself. /// O presente artigo mostra até que ponto a filosofia da ciência de Bernard Lonergan pode trazer resolução à recente controvérsia suscitada pelos defensores da Teoria do Desígnio Inteligente, teoria essa fortemente atacada pelos defensores neo-darwinistas da teoria da evolução. As teorias do Desígnio Inteligente defendem que as estruturas complexas dos organismos vivos não podem ser adequadamente explicadas pelas teorias neo-darwinistas, especialmente pelo seu postulado relativo às variações de acaso. Nesse sentido, um agente Inteligente teria de ser postulado em ordem a prover as necessárias explicações científicas. O autor do presente artigo, porém, considera que a argumentação dos defensores do Desígnio Inteligente é defeituosa, pelo queavança um novo argumento de desígnio, um efectivamente que aceita a teoria da evolução neo-darwiniana (ou algo muito semelhante a ela). Em suma, o artigo mostra até que ponto a análise lonerganiana dos métodos científicos subjaz à sua própria teoria da evolução, mostrando-se assim também de que forma esta doutrina ultrapassa as objecções mais elementares dos defensores da Teoria do Desígnio Inteligente. Por fim, mostra-se ainda de que modo a filosofia de Lonergan sobre Deus pode oferecer um argumento de desígnio baseado, não na complexidade deste ou daquele organismo, mas no "desígnio" da evolução em si mesma. (shrink)
This response to Sober's (2008) Evidence and Evolution draws out and criticizes some consequences of his analysis because of its reliance on a likelihood framework for adjucating the dispute between (IntelligentDesign) creationism and evolution. In particular, Sober's analysis does not allow it to be formally claimed that evolutionary theory better explains living phenomena than IntelligentDesign and makes irrelevant the contribution of the theory of evolution by natural selection to assessments of the status of the (...) argument from design. Finally, a rudimentary alternative framework for theory confirmation is presented here which avoids these conclusions by rejecting likelihoodism and deploying multiple criteria to the problem of scientific theory choice. (shrink)
In a recent article, Thomas Nagel argues against the court’s decision to strike down the Dover school district’s requirement that biology teachers in Dover public schools inform their students about IntelligentDesign. Nagel contends that this ruling relies on questionable demarcation between science and nonscience and consequently misapplies the Establishment Clause of the constitution. Instead, he argues in favor of making room for an open discussion of these issues rather than an outright prohibition against IntelligentDesign. (...) We contend that Nagel’s arguments do not succeed. First, we argue that Nagel’s case trades on an ambiguity regarding the content of non-theological views and fails to engage adequately some of the problems of ID. Then we raise concerns about Nagel’s conclusion; specifically, we will point to three incongruities between Nagel’s argument and his conclusion, and then we will raise a more general worry about the likely impact of Nagel’s view. (shrink)
Abstract. This paper examines the impact of two formalizations of evolutionary biology on the antiselectionist critiques of the IntelligentDesign (ID) movement. It looks first at attempts to apply the syntactic framework of the physical sciences to biology in the twentieth century, and to their effect upon the ID movement. It then examines the more heuristic account of biological-theory structure, namely, the semantic model. Finally, it concludes by advocating the semantic conception and emphasizing the problems that the semantic (...) model creates for ID's negative and positive theses. (shrink)
This document explains, from the viewpoint of a philosopher/scientist atheist, why intelligentdesign should be taught alongside standard evolutionary theory. I have been very disappointed by things I have read by scientists recommending suppression of this topic, and even in one case arguing that the worst arguments in favour of ID should be collected together and refuted, which is a prescription for scientific dishonesty. An honest attack would present the best arguments, as cogently as possible, before exposing their (...) flaws. (Something I learnt from the writings of Karl Popper.). (shrink)
This essay offers a critical introduction to the intellectual issues involved in the Kitzmiller case relating to intelligentdesign, and to Steve Fuller’s involvement in it. It offers a brief appraisal of the intelligentdesign movement stemming from the work of Phillip E. Johnson, and of Steve Fuller’s case for intelligentdesign in a rather different sense.
Based on an analysis of the origins and characteristics of IntelligentDesign (ID), this essay discusses the related issues of probability and irreducible complexity. From the viewpoint of complex systems theory, I suggest that IntelligentDesign is not, as certain advocates claim, the only reasonable approach for dealing with the current difficulties of evolutionary biology.
In Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005), the only U.S. federal case on teaching IntelligentDesign in public schools, the plaintiffs used the same argument as in the creation-science trials of the 1980s: IntelligentDesign is religion, not science, because it invokes the supernatural; thus teaching it violates the Constitution. Although the plaintiffs won, this strategy is unwise because it is based on problematic definitions of religion and science, leads to multiple truths in society, and is unlikely to (...) succeed before the present right-leaning Supreme Court. I suggest discarding past approaches in favor of arguing solely from the evidence for evolution. (shrink)
Talk delivered at CSICOP's Fourth World Skeptics Conference in Burbank, California, 21 June 2002, at a discussionÂ titled "Evolution and IntelligentDesign." The participants included ID proponents William Dembski and Paul Nelson as well as evolutionists Wesley Elsberry and Kenneth Miller. Massimo Pigliucci moderated the discussion.
In this book Niall Shanks aims to debunk thoroughly “intelligentdesign theory” (henceforth IDT). The aim of proponents of IDT, Shanks warns us (p. xi), “is to insinuate into public consciousness a new version of science – supernatural science – in which the God of Christianity (carefully not directly mentioned for legal and political reasons) is portrayed as the intelligent designer of the universe and its contents.” He thinks the answer to the two basic questions about IDT (...) – “Is intelligentdesign theory a scientific theory? Is there any credible evidence to support its claims?” (p. xii) – is an emphatic “no.” Such a response, Shanks thinks, is urgent, because IDT is just the thin edge of a wedge; “at the fat end of the wedge lurks the specter of a fundamentalist Christian theocracy” (p. xii). (shrink)
The National School Boards Association enlisted Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch to criticize intelligentdesign bullet point fashion. Here I want to respond to these bullet-point assertions. I would repeat the entire article, but copyright restrictions prevent me. The article is available at http://nsba.org/sbn/02-jul/070202-8.htm.
While “scientism” is typically regarded as a position about the exclusive epistemic authority of science held by a certain class of “cultured despisers” of “religion”, we show that only on the assumption of this sort of view do purportedly “scientific” claims made by proponents of “intelligentdesign” appear to lend epistemic or apologetic support to claims affirmed about God and God’s action in “creation” by Christians in confessing their “faith”. On the other hand, the hermeneutical strategy that better (...) describes the practice and method of Christian theologians, from the inception of theological reflection in the Christian tradition, acknowledges the epistemic authority of the best available tests for truth in areas of human inquiry such as science and history. But this strategy does not assume that such tests, whose authority must be regarded as provisional, provides authority for the warrant of affirming claims constituting the confessed “faith”. By attributing theological import to claims advanced by appeal to the best available tests for truth in the practice of science, supporters of ID not only confuse the epistemic authority of these tests with the normative authority of a faith community’s confessional identity, but impute to scientific tests for truth a sort of authority that even goes beyond the “methodological naturalism” against which they counterpose their claims. (shrink)
Intelligentdesign, though unnecessary in the study of biological evolution, is essential to the study of cultural evolution. However, the intelligent designers in question are not deities or aliens but rather humans going about their lives. The role of intentionality in cultural evolution can be elucidated through the addition of signaling theory to the framework outlined in the target article. (Published Online November 9 2006).
There are good and bad reasons to be skeptical of intelligentdesign. Perhaps the best reason is that intelligentdesign has yet to establish itself as a thriving scientific research program. Thus far philosophical, theoretical, and foundational concerns have tended to predominate. From the vantage of design advocates, this simply reflects the earliness of the hour and the need to clear the decks before a shift of paradigms can take place. Give us more time, and (...) we'll deliver on the program. That's our promise. Skeptics are at this point in their rights to refuse such promissory notes, albeit without sabotaging our efforts to make good on this promise. (shrink)
In my paper “IntelligentDesign Theory and the Supernatural—the ‘God or Extra-Terrestrial’ Reply,” I argued that IntelligentDesign (ID) Theory, when coupled with independently plausible further assumptions, leads to the conclusion that a supernatural intelligent designer exists. ID theory is therefore not neutral on the question of whether there are supernatural agents. In this respect, it differs from the Darwinian theory of evolution. John Beaudoin replies to my paper in his “Sober on Intelligent (...) class='Hi'>Design Theory and the Intelligent Designer,” arguing that my paper faces two challenges. In the present paper, I try to address Beaudoin’s challenges. (shrink)
There are various questions that arise in connection with the “intelligentdesign” (ID) controversy. This introductory section aims to distinguish five of these questions. Later sections are devoted to detailed discussions of each of these five questions. The first (and central) question is the one that has been discussed most frequently in the news lately: (Q1) Should ID be taught in our public schools? It is helpful to break this general “public school curriculum question” into the following two (...) more specific sub-questions: (Q1.1) Should ID be included in the science curriculum of our public schools? (Q1.2) Should ID be included in some part of our public school curriculum? Of course, these public school curriculum questions should be distinguished from other (perhaps related, but distinct) questions that are often asked about ID. Here is another question that is very frequently discussed, not only in the debate about (Q1), but in the ID controversy generally: (Q2) What is ID? In other words, is ID a scientific theory, a religious doctrine, an.. (shrink)
Social epistemology is the normative theory of socioepistemic practices. Teaching is a socioepistemic practice, so educational practices belong on the agenda of social epistemology. A current question is whether intelligentdesign should be taught in biology classes. This paper focuses on the argument from “fairness” or “equal time.” The principal aim of education is knowledge transmission, but evidence renders it doubtful that giving intelligentdesign equal time would promote knowledge transmission. In making curricular decisions, boards of (...) education should consult the experts. Are novices capable of identifying genuine experts? This social epistemological question is answered affirmatively. (shrink)
Abstract Jeffrey Koperski claims in Zygon (2008) that critics of IntelligentDesign engage in fallacious ad hominem attacks on ID proponents and that this is a “bad way” to engage them. I show that Koperski has made several errors in his evaluation of the ID critics. He does not distinguish legitimate, relevant ad hominem arguments from fallacious ad hominem attacks. He conflates (or equates) the logical use of valid with the colloquial use of valid. Moreover, Koperski doesn't take (...) seriously the legitimate concerns of the ID critics, and in doing so, commits the straw man fallacy. In the end, I show that no one disagrees with the criticism of improper use of fallacies as methods of evaluation. But what constitutes proper, relevant evaluation of the ID theorists and their motivation is a matter of dispute. And sometimes attacking a person as a method of evaluation is justified, and thus is not fallacious. The definition of ad hominem arguments as either a “good way” or a “bad way” rests on justification, which I argue ID opponents have. The basis for these good objections relies on the motivation many Christians have to share their faith with non-Christians, which they call the “great commission.”. (shrink)
Intelligentdesign is the science that studies how to detect intelligence. Recall astronomer Carl Sagan’s novel Contact about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (or SETI). Sagan based the SETI researchers’ methods of design detection on scientific practice. Real-life SETI researchers have thus far failed to detect designed signals from distant space. But if they encountered such a signal, as the astronomers in Sagan’s novel did, they too would infer design. Intelligentdesign research currently focuses (...) on developing reliable methods of design detection and then applying these methods, especially to biological systems. (shrink)
Ongoing hostilities between evolution and intelligentdesign adherents reveal deeper epistemological and ethical crises in American life. First, when adjudicating sociopolitical differences among people, how much epistemological “diversity” can be embraced before the very canons of judgment become suspect? Pragmatist notions of inquiry, warranted assertability, and pluralism can help strike a better balance. Second, the related crisis of factionalized “communities” might be addressed, along Deweyan lines, by the construction of a philosophical “total attitude” redolent of democratic ideals, more (...) broadly conceived. This attitude could grow out of reconstructed educational methods that train imaginative and interactive habits of inquiry and communication. (shrink)
In the movie Dream Team starring Michael Keaton, Keaton plays a psychiatric patient who must feign sanity to save his psychiatrist from being murdered. In protesting his sanity, Keaton informs two New York City policemen that he doesn’t wear women’s clothing, that he’s never danced around Times Square naked, and that he doesn’t talk to Elvis. The two police officers are much relieved. Likewise, I hope with this essay to reassure our culture’s guardians of scientific correctness that they have nothing (...) to fear from intelligentdesign. I expect to be just as successful as Keaton. (shrink)
Proponents of intelligentdesign theory seek to ground a scientific research program that appeals to teleology within the context of biological explanation. As such, intelligentdesign theory must contain principles to guide researchers. I argue for a disjunction: either Dembski’s ID theory lacks content, or it succumbs to the methodological problems associated with creation science—problems that Dembski explicitly attempts to avoid. The only concept of a designer permitted by Dembski’s explanatory filter is too weak to give (...) the sorts of explanations which we are entitled to expect from those sciences, such as archeology, that use effect-to-cause reasoning. The new spin put upon ID theory—that it is best construed as a “metascientific hypothesis”—fails for roughly the same reason. (shrink)
IntelligentDesign proponents consistently deny that science is rightfully governed by the norm of methodological naturalism—that independent of one’s actual metaphysical commitments regarding the natural/supernatural, a scientist, qua scientist, must behave as if the world is constituted by the natural, material world. This essay works to develop more fully a pragmatic justification for methodological naturalism, one that focuses on a number of key elements found in 17th and 18th century embryology.
For many natural scientists, design, conceived as the action of an intelligent agent, is not a fundamental creative force in nature. Rather, material mechanisms, characterized by chance and necessity and ruled by unbroken laws, are thought sufficient to do all nature’s creating. Darwin’s theory epitomizes this rejection of design.
William Paley ( Natural Theology , 1802) developed the argument-from-design. The complex structure of the human eye evinces that it was designed by an intelligent Creator. The argument is based on the irreducible complexity ("relation") of multiple interacting parts, all necessary for function. Paley adduces a wealth of biological examples leading to the same conclusion; his knowledge of the biology of his time was profound and extensive. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species is an extended argument demonstrating that the (...) "design" of organisms can be explained by natural selection. Moreover, the dysfunctions, defects, waste, and cruelty that prevail in the living world are incompatible with a benevolent and omnipotent Creator. They come about by a process that incorporates chance and necessity, mutation and natural selection. In addition to science, there are other ways of knowing, such as art, literature, philosophy, and religion. Matters of value, meaning, and purpose transcend science. (shrink)
Why do design arguments—particularly those emphasizing machine metaphors such as “Organisms and/or their parts are machines”—continue to be so convincing to so many people after they have been repeatedly refuted? In this essay I review various interpretations and refutations of design arguments and make a distinction between rationally refuting such arguments (RefutingR) and rendering them psychologically unconvincing (RefutingP). Expanding on this distinction, I provide support from recent work on the cognitive power of metaphors and developmental psychological work indicating (...) a basic human propensity toward attributing agency to natural events, to show that design arguments “make sense”unless one is cued to look more closely. As with visual illusions, such as the Müller-Lyer arrow illusion, there is nothing wrong with a believer's cognitive apparatus any more than with their visual apparatus when they judge the lines in the illusion to be of unequal length. It takes training or a dissonance between design beliefs and other beliefs or experiences to play the role that a ruler does in the visual case. Unless people are cued to “look again” at what initially makes perfect sense, they are not inclined to apply more sophisticated evaluative procedures. (shrink)
The explanatory filter is a proposed method to detect design in nature with the aim of refuting Darwinian evolution. The explanatory filter borrows its logical structure from the theory of statistical hypothesis testing but we argue that, when viewed within this context, the filter runs into serious trouble in any interesting biological application. Although the explanatory filter has been extensively criticized from many angles, we present the first rigorous criticism based on the theory of mathematical statistics.
Walter Thorson's two articles on the legitimacy and scope of naturalism within science attempt to identify a mediating position between the reductive naturalism of thinkers like Richard Dawkins and the complete rejection of naturalism by thinkers like Phillip Johnson. Thorson rightly notes that the purely mechanistic approach to science characteristic of reductive naturalism is inadequate. Nonetheless, he argues that science still needs naturalism as a methodological or regulative principle. Thorson's methodological naturalism leaves room for teleology in nature, though a (...) teleology that falls short of full intelligent agency. (shrink)
Goal-directed problem solving as originally advocated by Herbert Simon’s means-ends analysis model has primarily shaped the course of design research on artificially intelligent systems for problem-solving. We contend that there is a definite disregard of a key phase within the overall design process that in fact logically precedes the actual problem solving phase. While systems designers have traditionally been obsessed with goal-directed problem solving, the basic determinants of the ultimate desired goal state still remain to be fully (...) understood or categorically defined. We propose a rational framework built on a set of logically inter-connected conjectures to specifically recognize this neglected phase in the overall design process of intelligent systems for practical problem-solving applications. (shrink)
Another look is taken at the model assumptions involved in William Dembski’s (2002a, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence. Roman & Littlefield, Lanham, MA) use of the NFL theorems from optimization theory to disprove the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection, and his argument is shown to be irrelevant to evolutionary biology.
In the movie Contact, an astronomer played by Jodie Foster discovers a radio signal with a discernable pattern, a sequence representing prime numbers from 2 to 101. Because the pattern is too specifically arranged to be mere random space noise, the scientists infer from this data that an extraterrestrial intelligence has transmitted this signal on purpose.
According to Darwinism, undirected natural causes are solely responsible for the origin and development of life. In particular, Darwinism rules out the possibility of God or any guiding intelligence playing a role in life's origin and development. Within western culture Darwinism's ascent has been truly meteoric. And yet throughout its ascent there have always been dissenters who regarded as inadequate the Darwinian vision that undirected natural causes could produce the full diversity and complexity of life.
This is an unpublished talk written for a meeting of French philosophers. The paper describes the evolution versus creationism/intelligentdesign controversy in the U.S. A number of philosophers and scientists try to resolve this issue by sharply distinguishing the realm of science versus any talk of the supernatural. These pro-evolutionists often appeal to science's essential commitment to "methodological naturalism," the view that scientific methodology is essentially committed to naturalism and cannot meaningfully entertain hypotheses concerning the supernatural. I criticize (...) methodological naturalism, suggesting that such an appeal is misguided and counterproductive. I suggest an alternative view of the supernatural consistent with scientific knowledge. (shrink)
It began in 1945 when I was a 14 year old at Mt Albert Grammar. Our Fourth Form English teacher decided we should learn the skills of debating. The topic chosen was "Creation versus Evolution". And I, as an ardent young Baptist, volunteered, along with a Seventh Day Adventist, to take up the cudgels on behalf of Creation.
This paper continues a dialogue that began with an article by Jeffrey Koperski entitled “Two Bad Ways to Attack IntelligentDesign and Two Good Ones,” published in the June 2008 issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. In a response article, Christopher Pynes argues that ad hominem arguments are sometimes legitimate, especially when critiquing IntelligentDesign (2012). We show that Pynes’s examples only apply to matters of testimony, not the kinds of arguments found in the (...) best defenses of ID. (shrink)
This paper first outlines the main ideas of British natural theology, and shows the perennial value some of them have kept. It then outlines ways of searching for connections between God and nature, seeking traces of intelligence, first in the context of the setting of the modern ontology of the laws of nature, and then in the context of the design argument. It contrasts the positions of Hume and Paley. A presentation of recent "intelligentdesign" proposals is (...) then offered, from the perspective of their continuing that tradition of argumentation. They are contrasted with a Millian acount of their leaving the problem of evil unanswered. Behe's concept of irreducible complexity is presented in greater details, followed by Dembski's attempt to turn it into a logically valid mode of inference. Objections stemming from philosophers of science are lastly considered. The nature of life's strategies is in the end found to escape both attempts to have it on one's side. (shrink)
Mainstream modern science, with its analytical methods and its “objective” teachings, is the dominant force in modern culture. If science simply discovered and taught the truth about reality, who could object? But mainstream science does not simply “discover the truth”; instead it relies in part on a set of unscientific, false philosophical presuppositions as the basis for many of its conclusions. Thus, crucial aspects of what modern science teaches us are simply shabby philosophy dressed up in a white lab coat.
Why is that? The stakes are now considerably higher. Darwinism: Science or Philosophy? is the proceedings of a symposium that took place at Southern Methodist University in the spring of 1992. The focus of that symposium was Phillip Johnsonâ€™s then recently published book Darwin on Trial. At the time, Johnson was a novelty -- a respected professor of criminal law at Cal Berkeley who was raising doubts about evolution. All harmless, good fun, no doubt. And Berkeley has an illustrious history (...) of harboring eccentrics, kooks, and oddballs. (shrink)
There are various non-contrastive questions that one can ask about a single hypothesis H and a body of evidence E: What is the probability of H, given E [Pr(H | E)]? What is the likelihood of H on E [Pr(E | H)]? Does E support/counter-support H? Should we accept/reject H in light of E? There are also contrastive questions concerning pairs of alternative hypotheses H1 vs H2 and a body of evidence E: Is H1 more probable than H2, given E? (...) Is the likelihood of H1 greater than that of H2 on E? Does E favor H1 over H2 (or vice versa)? (shrink)
In the spring of 1992, I had lunch with Michael Ruse during a symposium at Southern Methodist University. The symposium addressed Phillip Johnson's then recently published book, Darwin on Trial . Johnson and Ruse were the keynote speakers, with Johnson defending his critique of evolution, Ruse challenging it. My role, and that of several other speakers, including Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Fred Grinnell, and Arthur Shapiro, was to contribute to the primary discussion between Johnson and Ruse. (The symposium proceedings, under (...) the title Darwinism: Science or Philosophy? are available through the Foundation for Thought and Ethics at www.fteonline.com.). (shrink)
I have before me a letter dated January 5, 2000 from Bradford Wilson, the executive director of the NAS. It begins, “I really enjoyed your contribution to the recent symposium in the January issue of First Things, so much so that I’ve also decided to invite you to join the NAS. Many of your fellow contributors including Robert George, Jeffrey Satinover, and Father Neuhaus are among our current members, and I think you’d find it well worth your while if you (...) joined ranks with us yourself.”. (shrink)