ID should not be promoted as science

I’m ambivalent to the question whether ID is or is not science. I don’t care how it is classified. The more important question is whether it is true. Even though in some people’s definition of science, ID might count as science, in other people’s definition of science it won’t count as science. Therefore, just to be safe and avoid pointless arguments, ID should not be promoted as science even by IDists.

Certainly IDists use scientific findings to advocate their assertions, but that doesn’t make ID science any more than a police investigator using science makes the police investigator a scientist.

What I view as representative scientific disciplines of investigation:

1. applied and theoretical electro magnetic theory
2. quantum chemistry
3. thermodynamics for heating and air conditioners and nuclear reactors
4. celestial mechanics
etc.

These involve hypotheses, predictions and experiments. ID does not have direct experiments because the mechanism (the Designer), even if He exists, usually chooses not to show up in such experiments.

Not every truth claim about the physical universe is accessible to science. I claim Socrates was a real person as Plato described, however, we only have Plato’s testimony to rely on. Even if Socrates was a real person, and even if there is credible evidence to that effect, such questions about the physical universe are outside science.

If the design of life came about by mechanisms outside those that can be demonstrated in laboratory experiment and are outside physical laws of chemistry and physics, then even if ID were true, ID might not be properly called science. Therefore I think ID should not be promoted as science.

ID is hypothesis, a claim about the physical universe.

This is my view:

Perhaps, however, one just really does not want to call intelligent design a scientific theory. Perhaps one prefers the designation “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.” Fine. Call it what you will, provided the same appellation is applied to other forms of inquiry that have the same methodological and logical character and limitations. In particular, make sure both design and descent are called “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.”

This may seem all very pointless, but that in a way is just the point. As Laudan has argued, the question whether a theory is scientific is really a red herring. What we want to know is not whether a theory is scientific but whether a theory is true or false, well confirmed or not, worthy of our belief or not.

Stephen Meyer
http://www.arn.org/docs/meyer/sm_methodological.htm

Does it really help IDists to claim they have a “Positive case for ID” and that “ID is science”? When I’ve witnessed debates on the topics, the IDists have lost. Why? They get bogged down in arguments over definitions rather than delivering discussions about the computer-like, well-engineered systems within biology and why such systems must transcend laws of physics and chemistry as a matter of principle. Therefore, ID should not be promoted as science.

PS
With respect to the public school science issue:

I’ll wager a bottle of single-malt scotch, should it ever go to trial whether ID may legitimately be taught in public school science curricula, that ID will pass all constitutional hurdles.

Bill Dembski

Being an advantage player, I should have taken that wager. I’d certainly like to upgrade my collection of scotch whiskey’s to be more like Richard Hughes’.

163 thoughts on “ID should not be promoted as science

  1. keiths, Skeptics do not accept as evidence the testimony of people who are obviously delusional, much less the witness of characters from the Bible who never existed.

  2. Mung: keiths, Skeptics do not accept as evidence the testimony of people who are obviously delusional, much less the witness of characters from the Bible who never existed.

    Huh?

    Doubting Thomas never existed? Are you sure about that, Mung?

  3. hotshoe_:

    If you think I’m wrong, then show me. Don’t just make airy-fairy claims about “insert[ing] whatever I think Dawkins meant to say” — show me!

    You misunderstand. You were willing to drop the charge of quotemining.

    hotshoe_:

    I would be really happy to drop this subthread about “quotemine”. If I was incorrect in calling out RoP for quotemining, I’m sorry. If I was correct in calling them out, I’m still sorry.

    keiths thinks the charge of quotemining is worth pursuing. Do you now wish to change your stance and join with keiths?

    If so, perhaps you can provide that which keiths cannot. A definition of biology by Dawkins from the book cited by Religion_of_pieces.

  4. hotshoe_: Huh?
    Doubting Thomas never existed? Are you sure about that, Mung?

    If I were a true skeptic, I would in fact doubt that “doubting thomas” ever existed. I would not just accept him as the “Patron Saint” of skepticism because of some stories in a compilation of books of obvious fiction.

    Call me “Doubting Mung.” Maybe I will become the Patron Saint of Skeptics!

  5. Mung: Call me “Doubting Mung.” Maybe I will become the Patron Saint of Skeptics!

    Now that’s really an achievement worth aspiring to!

  6. Mung: You misunderstand. You were willing to drop the charge of quotemining.

    hotshoe_:

    I would be really happy to drop this subthread about “quotemine”. If I was incorrect in calling out RoP for quotemining, I’m sorry. If I was correct in calling them out, I’m still sorry.

    keiths thinks the charge of quotemining is worth pursuing. Do you now wish to change your stance and join with keiths?

    If so, perhaps you can provide that which keiths cannot. A definition of biology by Dawkins from the book cited by Religion_of_pieces.

    Nope, sorry still, I”m not going to answer this. I’m done, I really am, I’ve more than had my say. What’s already visible from far upthread to this point is either enough to make my point understandable to the reader, or it isn’t. It is what it is.

    I can’t care if you, or keiths, or Glen, or anyone, agrees or disagrees with me. Suit yourselves.

  7. I’m just catching up here after another long week at work, so this might already have been addressed. I follow Dawkins on Twitter and I am utterly bemused by reactions such as yours and Elizabeth’s. 140 characters is not enough for a reasonable conversation, or even a complete thought, however pithy. It’s important to understand the limitations of the medium and, like here, read charitably and assume good faith. I don’t see many of Dawkins’ interlocutors exhibiting those particular virtues.

    This is why I mostly use Twitter for letting people know where to meet for drinks.

  8. Patrick: This is why I mostly use Twitter for letting people know where to meet for drinks.

    Which is why I think Dawkins is very foolish for using it to try to tell anyone anything else. He does it very badly.

  9. I don’t mind the derail of my OP, none of the TSZ anti-IDists seem to disagree with my OP, so really I conclude there is no debate about what I said this time.

    We may as well talk about what’s on your mind.

    Btw, IDists love what Dawkins has done for the ID movement.

    In my view, there has been polarization. The middle has gone. Dawkins helped make more atheists as well as IDists from the undecided middle.

  10. Elizabeth: Well, this was one:
    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/21/richard-dawkins-immoral-not-to-abort-a-downs-syndrome-foetus

    Yeah, that was a major twitter misstep, and I think genuinely attributable to the limitations of too short, sound-bite type answers.

    I’m pretty sure I understand Dawkins’ full position in this case when he expands his reasoning at more length, and I don’t think it’s as blunt and invasive as it sounded on twitter.

    The point is, he should have known better. He should have known there was no way to advise a woman to abort a (wanted) pregnancy in 140 characters without sounding heartlessly blunt.

    Later, he wrote a blog post which is quoted in The Guardian including this:

    … Those who thought I was bossily telling a woman what to do rather than let her choose, of course this was absolutely not my intention and I apologise if brevity made it look that way. My true intention was …

    Exactly, Richard, exactly. You’re apologizing because “brevity made it look that way.” How about, for the future, you make a vow to yourself to avoid situations like that (where you must apologize for brevity) by avoiding twitter altogether? Or at least avoiding it for anything more complicated than “we’re meeting at the pub tonight”.

    Apparently, though, Dawkins didn’t really learn his lesson, because that didn’t turn out to be the last of his twitter controversies.

  11. Lizzie,

    I agree with hotshoe’s view on the first tweet. As far as the second, Muslim representation among Nobel Laureates, I think it’s an interesting point. Maybe a culture that subjugates half it’s members is objectively less beneficial to human flourishing than one that does not.

    And now I’m really into the derail….

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