Friday, May 12, 2006

Thoughts on intelligent design

I'm not really interested in starting a debate on this here, primarily because the debate is often fruitless, but I do want to preserve for myself, on this site, some comments I made at this blog. My closing point:

I agree that the driving force behind modern evolutionary science is a deep-seated conviction that naturalistic philosophy is absolutely true. But it is better science. (not great, but better) Evolutionists like Richard Dawkins and his intellectual progeny argue from observations backwards. Lacking any religious convictions, they trust their senses, and assume things we see on a small scale today (development of antibiotic resistance, variation in finch beaks, etc.) account for the large scale variation we see in the world.

ID unfortunately has a fundamental problem: they are approching from the other end. ID guys assume there is a creator and look for evidence of him/her/it. They insist this isn't the case, but the only defense they have of their actions if they truly aren't arguing from a first cause is intellectual laziness, a refusal to probe that black box on the empiricist terms set by modern science.

The difference between the two, and why ID will never win the debate, is that naturalists don't assume anything more than observation as a basis for their proposals. They may be wrong in their assumption, but they are based in a simplistic, empirical worldview. ID-ers must assume something outside the test tube, and in so doing, they make pure scientists nervous.

Oddly, perhaps, I am much more in the ID camp than the naturalist camp, but that stems from my religious convictions. I just am willing to admit that.

The key that the ID camp is missing is that they are attempting to win a debate on empiricist grounds, using rules defined by empiricists. What they ought to be doing, and what people like Philip Johnson do well, is attack that empiricist mindset, show the logical inconsistency of the rules as they exist. They can't win by saying it is science. What they can do is say that our perception of what science is must change.

6 comments:

S. Lee said...

Nate, I posted another thought on the issue in some semblance of detail on my site. Thanks for the post. daglof! <-- that was my word verification.

MrStandfast said...

Nathan...I know you didn't mean to start a debate, but I simply cannot agree with your assessment. I say this with the utmost respect for your mental prowess...you've mistaken the argument a bit I think.

ID has beeb successful in one thing, and I think ultimately will not failt because of this success. It has begun to show the world that the dominant theory of Evolution is riddled with assumption and holes. It has been a slow process of naturalism performing its own inductive leaps with the categoric certainty that the physical MUST be the only thing existing.
What ID has not done is something that has not been even on its radar entirely, and this is something vital to discern. ID has not proved a creator. In this, you are right, ID is not suddenly going to find a tiny barcode that says "made by God". so far it has not even tried. ID is NOT, contrary to your assessment, religiousity. A majority of ID proponents are not advocating faith instead of scientific observation, they are simply observing, in actual scientific honesty, the many problems with evolution.

there was an excellent article in the post on this a while ago. Scientific students were kind of aghast to learn that they had simply been denied the information that cast some doubt on commonly held evolutionary beliefs. One evolutionists response to that..."it's to complicated for the general public." That's a kind of scary scientific totalitarianism. Anyway, an aside.


The point is...the schism between soul and mind occured in large scale during englightenment rationalism, and has only grown in recent decades to where anything that is unphysical is considered outside the realm of reality.

Well...shoot that was another aside. Here's the bottom line. you're WRONG that ID is an induction beginning with the assumption that God is the creator, therefor how can we find that in nature. It is quite the opposite for many scientists, who are finding that evolution simply does not account for the fact of what they are finding. I cannot help but assume you are reading the wrong ID proponents. Not to be cantankerous...

Nathan said...

S.Lee, thanks for letting me know. I like your thoughts on the matter too.

MrStandfast, you're wrong.

You're missing my point. Showing that the theory of evolution is riddled with holes is no problem. Evolutionists do that all the time. That's what spurs research, the knowledge of a hole in our knowledge. What ID does is assume that hole cannot be filled, an assumption anathema to the "Enlightenment spirit" which wants to fill in all the blank spaces on the map. I should clarify though, that the assumption is that the hole cannot be filled with anything we can observe. A creator, or designer, is by its nature removed from the natural world. Enlightenment science is based in the natural world. Therefore the assumption of a creator has no place in Enlightenment science.

What I think you might have missed is my closing. Philip Johnson is a logician, and his work is largely concerned with pointing out the logical holes in an empirical worldview. That is fine, and it's the only way ID is going to make any headway. Because they can't win the debate without fundamentally redefining what science is. Because science means rationalism. And if rationalism is untenable, by all means prove it. But you can't win a debate with a rational empiricist, on their terms while you are defending a concept which is not empirical.

Nathan said...

Not to be cantankerous... :)

MrStandfast said...

Is science rationalism? I always thought it was about truth...and I hope that involves logic AND rationalism.


I did not fail to note your point of philip johnson. But it is absolutely not the proxy of scientists, ID proponents or otherwise, to redefine science. As a christian, I don't know that it's appropriate to say "our perception of science" must change. We are permitted reason to probe the natural order of things, and I think it's folly to assume that there is a mystical undercurrent that we need to somehow meld with what we know about the world. The implication of that logic is that we might reach a point of Knowing rationally where we must either cease our reasoning or prune our faith. It's a far greater thing to marvel at creation in its intricacy than its improbability.

If anything, the realization that certain systems cannot evolve ought to be the source of a flurry of interest in digging further, of finding out what these things mean, not a cramped reinforcement of evolutionary mythology. What is happening in many camps of rationalism is that the nervousness about implications is overriding the ideas about how we know things in the first place. I don't think you're on the money saying that what really needs combatting is rationalism. Rationalism needs to be RETURNED TO in this debate. otherwise we're back to a flat world.

It is the steadfast work of many ID scientists to finally wrest this discussion from the grips of theism.

you said... "What ID does is assume that hole cannot be filled, an assumption anathema to the "Enlightenment spirit" which wants to fill in all the blank spaces on the map." You're right about rationalism but wrong again about ID. ID offers no fill for the great blank, but does not throw up its hands say none exists.

If anything, and this is CRUCIAL, the scientific community has performed the backward betrayal of rationalism. It has said THERE CANNOT BE A GOD, PERIOD and has begun to work backward, and turn blind eyes, and suppress information based on that assumption. Scientists need to realize that God is not their proxy either.

ID It is not theology. The moniker "Intelligent design" offers something untenable to the rationalist on its face...but if, as a hypothetical, there were an intelligent design behind nature...then its hardly contra rational is it? It's simply a question of insufficient data. the question is what answer is supported by the data, and I suppose what I ought to have said is that 90% of the ID theory I have read is not only atheistic, but is purely directed against evolution. The point in understanding this is that the scope of ID is limited, and does not include theology, or attempt to craft some "new logic". It is making EMPIRICAL headway and THAT is precisely its strength.

MrStandfast said...

oh and this time...the gauntlet has been thrown. I fight in the name of the lady Rebecca. ;)