When I started this site, I had been struck by the remarkable symmetry between the objections raised by ID proponents to evolution, and the objections raised by ID opponents to ID – both “sides” seemed to think that the other side was motivated by fear of breaking ranks; fear of institutional expulsion; fear of facing up to the consequences of finding themselves mistaken; not understanding the other’s position adequately; blinkered by what they want, ideologically, to be true, etc.  Insulting characterisations are hurled freely in both directions. Those symmetries remain, as does the purpose of this site, which is to try to drill past those symmetrical prejudices to reach the mother-lode of genuine difference.

But two asymmetries now stand out to me:

The first is that ID proponents seem most of the time to be arguing against a claim made by very few (not even Dawkins) – that science shows that there is no DesignerScience does so such thing.  Even if scientists were to show, convincingly, a step by step account of life’s history from “mud to man”, we would be in no position to say that life was undesigned.  Scientific findings do not show that “materialism is true”.  They cannot.  Such a conclusion is outside scientific methodology.

But ID proponents go further than this – they argue that because science cannot conclude that there is no designer, that we are entitled to conclude that there is.  And so the first asymmetry is this:

  • ID proponents claim that current scientific explanations are inadequate, therefore ID. They make no testable hypotheses about the nature of the designer, and consider it outside their domain of enquiry.
  • ID opponents agree that scientific explanations are inadequate, and that a Designer is perfectly possible. They provide copious testable hypotheses for postulated non-design processes, and iteratively test them, rejecting some, retaining others, and leading, step by step, to an ever-more detailed picture.

The second asymmetry is this:

  • ID proponents dislike engaging with ID opponents; they readily bar people from their forums, and disable comments.
  • ID opponents are positively eager to engage with ID proponents, following them to ID websites, and inviting them to their own.

I suggest that an uncommitted observer, blind to the content of the arguments, might conclude that ID proponents are making the stronger claim, with the weaker case.

59 thoughts on “Asymmetry

  1. petrushka,

    Educated people is everyone these days. Who’s not educated and self educated.?
    All scientific theories must be based on the evidence.
    This is what determines what is true.

  2. Robert Byers:

    I have NEVER been censored on this forum.

    Hi Robert! No, indeed you have not. Yet I am an evolutionist, and I have always voted left.

    So there’s one little piece of evidence that we leftie evolutionists are not all suppressors of dissent 🙂
    ETA: ah, I see you have graciously acknowledged this. Thank you.

  3. Indeed, theories are based on evidence. I would appreciate you walking us through Newton’s evidence for universal gravitation.

  4. Lizzie,

    Generalizations do work.
    I wish freedom of thought and speech did rule but I find it doesn’t.
    I do find its the left that most clings to control as it is in control of so much of the establishment and contentious ideas and policies in North America.
    its human instinct to stop criticism etc against the prevailing philosophies.
    Especially from those who only recently started prevailing.
    Also from those not confident and plain wrong (so less confident in faior exchange of ideas).
    I do think conservatives are the good guys these days on freedom to allow dissent.
    Indeed freedom generally is conservative.
    Anyways I know my extensive observation on origin forums and blogs.

  5. Robert

    As you seem to have three links going to the same comment, I’ve edited out two of them. I assume you pressed the “(reply)” button multiple times in error.

  6. Alan Fox,

    I don’t know what happened and don’t think I did hit it three times at all.
    I just hit reply.
    I ‘ll watch carefully.

  7. Robert Byers,

    Ah, there you are, Mr Byers.
    You claimed above not to be racist.

    Can you then explain, please, the meaning of this comment you published elsewhere?
    “The story by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. It seems to me a con job on America when these people rise above the great numbers of americans to get these writing jobs for top mags. Affirmative action maybe? Con job anyone?”

    What precisely do you mean by “these people”? And why should “these people” not get jobs for which they are qualified,and which they can do well?

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