This was originally intended as a brief reply to the comment by William J Murray but it sort of grew into something a little longer so I thought, since everyone else is doing it, I’d put it up here.
William J Murray:
I think that any fair reading of UD will show that the vast majority of pro-ID posters there, and certainly the moderators and subject contributors, are not “anti-science” at all, nor “sneer” at science; rather, they have what is IMO a legitimate concern over the anti-religious, anti-theist, pro-materialist agenda that many of those currently in positions of power in the institutions of science blatantly demonstrate.
I would agree that not all contributors to UD are anti-science but there is, nonetheless, a prominent strand of such thinking there. Many of the original posts mock the speculative excesses of evolutionary psyschology, for example, or seem to gloat over instances of where science has apparently got it wrong. Those occasions where the author of such comments has got it wrong themselves pass largely unremarked. The overall impression is of an anti-science advocacy site.
I will grant that there are a few contributors to UD who are critical of the perceived atheist/materialist stance of many scientists in public fora as improper because it associates science with atheism. They hold, as I do, that the most science can say on such questions is that, following Laplace, it has found no need for such hypotheses thus far. While it may be true that a majority of scientists hold atheistic views it is misleading to suggest that they are endorsed by science as a whole.
That said, my impression of UD is that the majority of contributors are critical of science because they believe it is hostile and threat to their religion. They feel that science is perceived as a source of knowledge that is more reliable and authoritative than that offered by the various faiths which is thereby undermined. One slightly amusing response is the attempt to cast science as just another religion. Those who do so seem to be oblivious to the contradiction: on the one hand, religion is presented as a way of knowing that is fully the equal of science, on the other hand, the authority of science is supposed to be undermined by calling it just another religion, implying that religion is a lesser form of knowledge and science is to be dragged down to that level. Unfortunately, much as they would like to, they can’t have it both ways
There is without doubt a very vocal group of scientists and advocates of science who believe that it does make religious beliefs untenable They highlight the harm that has been done – and is still being done – in the name of the various faiths as evidence that we would all be better off without it. My own view is that this is reactionary and most prominent in the United States. It is a response to the extreme hostility felt by many Americans towards any form of non-belief and the excessive influence of such religious beliefs on the society and politics of that country.
My own view is that it is true that, over the millennia, a great deal of blood has been spilled in the name of various religions. It is also true that huge numbers have been killed in the name of the various political ideologies, which were in some cases atheistic, that gained power in the twentieth century. I would argue that it is further true that trying to compare body counts is a pointless distraction. The real lesson to be taken is the dangers of absolutist thinking.
In spite of the posturing and boastfulness of some, we are mostly well aware of our own weakness and vulnerability. Instinctively, we crave the kind of reliable knowledge about the world in which we find ourselves that will give us a good handle on it and increase our chances of survival. We are all too easily seduced by anyone or any belief system which appears to offer such certainty, especially in times of heightened insecurity. The danger is that, once convinced of the absolute truth of such beliefs, there are some who will have no doubt that they are fully justified in doing almost anything to defend and promote such them. Thus we have the spectacle of William Lane Craig apparently feeling compelled to defend and justify the massacring of children, even though I have no doubt it is something he would never do himself, because it is something reported in his Bible as being required of believers and approved by his God.
Thus we come back to Oliver Cromwell’s impassioned plea, used as the motto for this blog:
I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.