Is there a Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design?

In a recent exchange at Uncommon descent I was referred by the “ineffable” Philip Cunningham (BA77) to an article at Evolution News and Views by the Discovery Institute attorney, Casey Luskin. Onward links lead me on to his Amazon review of Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt”. The article appears to be a response to a comment appended to the review by Nick Matzke [ETA Apparently the commenter Nick is not Nick Matzke, as Nick Matzkze points out below.]:

What’s the “scientific theory of ID”? Who or what is the designer and how can we tell? What did it do and how can we tell? How did it do it and how can we tell? Where did it do it and how can we tell? When did it do it and how can we tell?

Calling a book “Darwin’s Doubt” does make it sound like a critique of evolution rather than a presentation of a scientific theory called “Intelligent Design”. Luskin’s piece appears to be written in response to Nick’s [not Matzke’s] comments appended to Luskin’s review of “Darwin’s Doubt”.

On perusing Luskin’s piece, the first part “What Intelligent Design Is Not” is not relevant, so let’s move on hopefully, to the meat in the sandwich – “What the Theory of Intelligent Design Is”!

Intelligent design is a scientific theory that argues that the best explanation for some natural phenomena is an intelligence cause, especially when we find certain types of information and complexity in nature which in our experience are caused by intelligence.

Hmm! So what is that best explanation? And that glib phrase “in our experience are caused by intelligence”? Does this mean we are in for a definition of intelligence? Let’s see!

But where in our experience do things like language, complex and specified information, programming code, or machines come from? They have one and only one known source: intelligence. When we look at nature, we find high levels of CSI [complex and specified information]. A design inference may thus be made. This is the essence of the positive case for design.

A word appears to be missing here. I’d not disagree with the first sentence if it said “human intelligence” though human intelligence is a poorly defined and unmeasurable concept. But the leap in the dark to “A design inference may thus be made.” seems to lack the middle step (shades of the sock gnomes).

The rest of the article continues this conflation of reality to an altogether more amorphous “intelligence” that is a better explanation than evolutionary theory for the observed pattern of extant and extinct life that we see. Along the way, there are some egregiously false statements.

Experimental investigations of DNA indicate that it is full of a CSI-rich, language-based code. Biologists have performed mutational sensitivity tests on proteins and determined that their amino acid sequences are highly specified. Additionally, genetic knockout experiments and other studies have shown that some molecular machines, like the flagellum, are irreducibly complex.

Studies of the fossil record show that species typically appear abruptly without similar precursors. The Cambrian explosion is a prime example, although there are other examples of explosions in life’s history. Large amounts of complex and specified information had to arise rapidly to explain the abrupt appearance of these forms.

But as they don’t concern a “theory of intelligent design” we can leave them on one side.

Where’s the meat?

As Nick [not Nick Matzke] asks:

What’s the “scientific theory of ID”? Who or what is the designer and how can we tell? What did it do and how can we tell? How did it do it and how can we tell? Where did it do it and how can we tell? When did it do it and how can we tell?

and as I said;

…it is apparent there is as yet no scientific theory of Intelligent Design. If there were, it should be easy to rebut my assertion by stating the theory, giving a summary or linking to the appropriate text.

.

Have I missed anything? Is Casey’s article more than a lawyer’s rewording of the usual argument from incredulity over the efficacy of evolutionary processes followed by the “sock gnome” leap to “Intelligent Design”?

Added in edit:

This is a slight enlargement of a comment I posted at Uncommon Descent

85 thoughts on “Is there a Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design?

  1. Gregory, would you be so kind as to define “ideology” as you are using
    it. From where I sit, the statements:

    Creationism is *not* “a scientific theory.” It is an ideology.

    And

    Darwinism is an ideology.

    Are not equivalent because “Creationism” is not equivalent to “Darwinism”, at least not as I understand the two terms. Here are the definitions of the two terms as I understand them:

    cre·a·tion·ism
    [kree-ey-shuh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed.
    2.
    ( sometimes initial capital letter ) the doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, especially in the first chapter of Genesis.

    Dar·win·ism
    [dahr-wuh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
    noun
    the Darwinian theory that species originate by descent, with variation, from parent forms, through the natural selection of those individuals best adapted for the reproductive success of their kind.

    Note that according to actual dictionaries, Creationism is a doctrine based upon belief, but Darwinism represents an acceptance of an actual scientific theory.

    So the two terms are not the same type of concept. Hence, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say either, Gregory.

  2. Robin,

    Will you answer a question for me? Have you ever taken a university-level course in Philosophy, History or Sociology of Science? This means, roughly 48 hours of lectures and more than 60-70 hours of individual assignments and readings on the topic?

    Appeals to popular dictionaries is the lowest common denominator strategy. It takes them years to catch up with actual scholarship. Surely you can understand this.

    Thanks,
    Gregory

  3. Do you now wish to gloat in your misunderstandings? Have you learned nothing of what differences ‘Darwinian’ and ‘Darwinism’ denote?

    Nothing I’ve read indicates a difference between the two terms. What makes your insistence to the contrary authoritative or valid?

    KN/E = Kantian Naturalist/Emergentist. He has declared himself an emergentist. So there’s no point in just calling him a ‘naturalist,’ is there? It has to do with observation.

    Now I think you are just jerking peoples’ chains for silly sake. There’s nothing preventing a naturalist from being an emergentist or vis versa. I would go so far as to note that it would be impossible to be an emergentist and NOT be a naturalist.

  4. There seems to be a common difficulty in distinguishing between doctrine — which is revealed truth — and theory, which is a wrapper for empirical findings.

    If the theory is incomplete or ragged at the edges — and it always will be — the empirical findings remain.

  5. “it would be impossible to be an emergentist and NOT be a naturalist.” – Robin

    An ’emergentist’ can be a ‘theist’ too. Right? (Silence.) It’s similar to how anti-theists avoid theists who accept limited evolutionary theories or ‘evolutionary creation,’ but who reject philosophical naturalism. It suits their worldview to do so.

    As an ex-Christian atheist, Robin, surely you realise this possibility.

    “Nothing I’ve read indicates a difference between the two terms.” – Robin

    I don’t think you’ve read nearly enough. That’s why I asked the question above, if you’ve studied the topic seriously. And just being an American is much more a handicap than you (and many others here) seem to realise, educated in that grossly ‘sanitised’ educational system as you were/are. I’m sorry if the truth hurts, but many people recognise this situation for what it is.

  6. Have you ever taken a university-level course in Philosophy of Science? This means, roughly 48 hours of lectures and more than 60-70 hours of individual assignments and readings on the topic?

    Yes.

    Appeals to popular dictionaries is the lowest common denominator strategy. It takes them years to catch up with actual scholarship. Surely you can understand this.

    And surely you can understand my dismissing your statement out of hand given that you are simply offering me an unsubstantiated claim and asking me to take your word for it. Pass.

    Here’s the thing. I use terms based on dictionary definitions so as to have a basis for clear communication. It’s fine if you don’t like the basis I’m using, but unless you are going to offer up an alternative, there’s no way for us to communicate clearly as there is no way for us to get on the same page as far as our term use.

    For instance, I asked you to define how you are using “ideology” because, as I noted, the way I understand the term makes your claims regarding “Creationism” and “Darwinism” unclear. Thus far you’ve not provided any sort of elaboration on your use of the term, instead preferring to mock certain philosophical understandings without substantiation, leaving me few choices in understanding your point. It’s easiest to conclude that you don’t know what you are talking about and dismissing you out-of-hand. If that’s what you’re going for, fair enough.

    Otoh, if you really have some thoughts you are interested in other folks considering, perhaps you’ll consider taking a different approach and actually defining your use of the terms when asked instead of popping out snide retorts such as “impoverished American PoS” and “Do you now wish to gloat in your misunderstandings?” that really just make you look like someone evading the discussion of the sake of a biased agenda.

  7. An ‘emergentist’ can be a ‘theist’ too. Right?

    Not as far as I understand the term:

    In philosophy, emergentism is the belief in emergence, particularly as it involves consciousness and the philosophy of mind, and as it contrasts (or not) with reductionism. A property of a system is said to be emergent if it is in some sense more than the “sum” of the properties of the system’s parts. An emergent property is said to be dependent on some more basic properties (and their relationships and configuration), so that it can have no separate existence. However, a degree of independence is also asserted of emergent properties, so that they are not identical to, or reducible to, or predictable from, or deducible from their bases. The different ways in which the independence requirement can be satisfied lead to various sub-varieties of emergence.

    As such, emergentism negates the possibility of a soul, something I don’t see theists subscribing to.

  8. As an ex-Christian atheist, Robin, surely you realise this possibility.

    As I don’t identify myself as an ex-Christian atheist, that’s a little hard for me to answer.

  9. I don’t think you’ve read nearly enough. That’s why I asked the question above, if you’ve studied the topic seriously. And just being an American is much more a handicap than you (and many others here) seem to realise, educated in that grossly ‘sanitised’ educational system as you were/are. I’m sorry if the truth hurts, but many people recognise this situation for what it is.

    Fair enough I suppose, but the above comes with assumption that I accept and/or find valid any of the fringe arguments that suggest that “Darwinism” should be considered an ideology. Like your vacuous claims – that is, your insistence on certain “factuals” absent any substantiations or even reference to arguments for consideration, I dismiss out of hand arguments from either false or self-identified “authorities”. Provide me a reason to consider your POV; don’t just insist you’re some kind of King Poobah of Philosophy Who Must be Taken Seriously. You can claim you’re Napoleon or Jesus too, but I’ll just roll my eyes at those claims as well.

    Oh…and your continued insistence that ‘mericans are jus’ backwards dum hicks when it comes to philosophy is sort of wearing thin. One of the first rules of good writing is, “don’t tell the readers, show them”. In other words, it would be pretty easy to demonstrate that we ‘mericans are idiots by just citing references to well-received modern philosophers who we ‘mericans don’t know nothing ’bout.

    It’s really not that hard, Gregory.

    PS: For the record, a fairly substantial portion of my eduction was European-based, so I’m not entirely sure why you keep tossing out the anti-American educational sentiments.

  10. What “further ideological aims” are you referring to?

    I don’t understand what is being asked here. You seem to be using “ideology” as a technical term, and I am not familiar with any technical meaning. All I intended in my specific remark was “to support religious views.”

    It is obvious already, Neil, that you have backpeddled recently at TSZ.

    I have simply recognized that a statement that I made was misinterpreted, particularly by you, so I have been trying to correct that misinterpretation.

    In all honesty, much of what you post makes little sense. You seem to want to identify everything as either “ideology” or “not ideology”. Perhaps that makes sense in whatever is your area of study, but to me it seems too crude a distinction.

    Like I said, impoverished is American PoS. Most scientists have not taken an entry level course in it.

    I’m assuming that “PoS” stands for philosophy of science. Personally, I approve of scientists not taking a course in it. Philosophy of science is mostly bullshit. It is a view of science that is distorted to fit what goes under the name “epistemology.”

    p.s. “I’m puzzled as to why you are using “KN/E” rather than “KN”. Perhaps that’s an expression of your ideology.” – Neil

    KN/E = Kantian Naturalist/Emergentist. He has declared himself an emergentist. So there’s no point in just calling him a ‘naturalist,’ is there? It has to do with observation.

    Then perhaps I should stop calling you “Gregory” and instead call you “BCPS” (short for “batshit crazy political scientist”). Ok, I’m exaggerating. But can’t we just refer to people by the names that they use, rather than by what we might perceive as their ideology? When KN says he is an emergentist, I take him to be identifying his current viewpoint. Based on the way he discusses issues, I also take him as being open to evidence that would persuade him that he is mistaken, in which case I would not consider his emergentism to be an ideology.

    emergentist as viewpoint: a description of one’s current view of things;

    emergentist as ideology: a set of unchallengable beliefs which one uses as a basis for interpreting evidence.

  11. I certainly think that’s true Petrushka, but I suspect that Gregory is coming from some other perspective on the subject. I think he holds the opinion that Darwinism is an ideology based on something he’s read. I’m just trying to get him to say where he got his notion.

  12. Robin,
    “I don’t identify myself as an ex-Christian atheist” – Robin

    It seemed you previously were a Christian. Is that untrue?

    It seems you now are an atheist. Is that untrue?

  13. Gregory:

    “I don’t identify myself as an ex-Christian atheist” – Robin

    It seemed you previously were a Christian. Is that untrue?

    It seems you now are an atheist. Is that untrue?

    Unnecessarily personal quiestions.

    Neither is there any relevance to the original topic of this thread as an excuse for asking them.

  14. “Intelligent design is a scientific theory that argues that the best explanation for some natural phenomena is an intelligence cause…”

    Luskin doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a theory/explanation and an argument in support of that theory/explanation. Or perhaps he understands perfectly well, but knowing that ID has no theory/explanation (beyond “an intelligent designer did it”), he switches the subject to arguments, and hopes no one will notice the sleight of hand. I’ll be charitable and assume he just doesn’t understand the difference.

  15. Robin,

    Darwinian evolution is a natural scientific theory.

    Darwinism is an ideology.

    Is this so hard to evaluate or accept?

  16. “Unnecessarily personal quiestions.”

    The information was already volunteered (see link below). Unfortunately, my dialogue partner is doing communicative sommersaults. Can’t trust someone like that; in such circumstances simple, direct questions are needed.

    And the questions are directly related to the OP because IDT discriminates against atheism. An atheist scientist (or layperson) simply *cannot* accept IDT (as currently formulated) because it ‘implies’ a transcendent Designer.

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=2846&cpage=1#comment-26846

    What’s best, it seems to me, is for Robin to stop interrupting questions I’ve asked to KN/E. As a professional philosopher (or, at least, as a teacher of philosophy) I expect KN/E to be able to provide an answer re: ideology. So far, he has come up well short.

    “creationism is a scientific theory” according to KN/E. Yet much more clarity is achieved when it is understood that creationism is an ideology and so is Darwinism. As usual, I’m astonished about why this is so hard for people in the USA to accept, as if they want to linger in philosophical impoverishment even longer than they have to. Is it stubborn arrogance, unwillingness to recognise a superior tradition in PoS than Americans have yet ‘developed’?

    Likewise, the ideology of evolutionism differs from unexaggerated ‘evolutionary theory.’ This should be completely obvious. But it means one cannot turn ‘evolution’ into a ‘worldview’ without people calling it for what it is, and which many skeptics and atheists seem to wish to do, i.e. the alternative ‘creation story’ of ‘modern science.’

    In the beginning was Evolution…and Evolution just ‘evolved’ itself from Nothing.

    Someone who by their own admission used to be a Christian but is not now one is technically speaking an ‘ex-Christian.’ So, why the noise?

    “it would be pretty easy to demonstrate that we ‘mericans are idiots”

    Yes, it would. American PoS is largely idiotic and remedial. Most Americans are stuck on ‘methodological naturalism’ vs. ‘philosophical naturalism.’ Neil Rickert’s statement “Philosophy of science is mostly bullshit” demonstrates that most effectively.

    Self-styled ‘high-minded’ thinkers who still can’t see beyond Feynman’s myopia “Philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds,” need to go back to school or just go to the library with a good list and possibly eventually elevate their thoughts in science, philosophy, theology/worldview discourse.

    In the other thread, Neil Rickert’s unsubstantiated claims re: philosophy and ‘intelligent design’ are already exposed, yet he chalks it up to someone else’s ‘misunderstanding’. Unnecessary nonsense.

  17. In Lizzie’s absence, I’m calling time on personal attacks. It’s against my nature, but further comments that stray from Lizzie’s rules will be ‘guano’ed.

  18. It seemed you previously were a Christian. Is that untrue?

    I previously self identified as a Christian. However, I’ve found that I do not and never have held the beliefs that most people who claim the title “Christian”, particularly of the conservative variety, hold. My beliefs, however, have not changed that much.

    It seems you now are an atheist. Is that untrue?

    Well, I certainly don’t believe in the God that any Christian I’ve ever met believes in. I do believe in a God however.

  19. Darwinian evolution is a natural scientific theory.

    Darwinism is an ideology.

    Is this so hard to evaluate or accept?

    It is not hard to evaluate. It is, however, difficult to accept since the term “Darwinism” already has a common usage that has nothing to do with ideology as I understand it.

    Again, if you wish to use the term differently, fair enough. Just give a head’s up and define it.

    Oh…and when you get a chance, define ideology as well because I’m unfamiliar with the way you appear to be using that term too.

  20. What’s best, it seems to me, is for Robin to stop interrupting questions I’ve asked to KN/E.

    Hahahaha! Umm…Gregory, just a hint here, but given any sort of rational philosophy, it should be readily apparent that it is impossible for anyone to interrupt someone else on a message board. Or do you have some compulsive disorder that makes my posts louder than all others? 😉

  21. Robin: “it would be pretty easy to demonstrate that we ‘mericans are idiots”

    Yes, it would. American PoS is largely idiotic and remedial. Most Americans are stuck on ‘methodological naturalism’ vs. ‘philosophical naturalism.’ Neil Rickert’s statement “Philosophy of science is mostly bullshit” demonstrates that most effectively.

    Oh boy…(sigh)

    Let me see if I can break this down for you. This:

    American PoS is largely idiotic and remedial.

    Is merely your opinion. It holds zero validity for anyone else but you. You are welcome to such an opinion, but making the statement simply begs your credibility. Such a statement, simply put, makes you look like a bigot and thus a person incapable of rational discourse on the subject.

    This:

    Most Americans are stuck on ‘methodological naturalism’ vs. ‘philosophical naturalism.’

    is an unsubstantiated claim. Since you haven’t bothered to provide any sort of citation for said claim, and given the previous impression of bigotry, it makes sense that most folk are going to dismiss this as invalid. Instead of just coughing out your own personal beef with ‘mericans, why don’t you actual reference some basis for holding such…at least to my mind…obviously erroneous impressions of Americans?

    Lastly, this:

    Neil Rickert’s statement “Philosophy of science is mostly bullshit” demonstrates that most effectively.

    does no such thing. The fact is, you have no obvious associations or knowledge about Neil to actually deduce from where Neil statement arose or what implications underpin his opinion. You want to pin it on his being an American, but really you have no basis for such a claim at all. And, as you’ve not rebutted the statement in anyway, you haven’t even established that any link between it and inaccuracy, let alone poor American education. Your entire position, thus far, has been nothing but bluster.

  22. Robin: Not as far as I understand the term:

    As such, emergentism negates the possibility of a soul, something I don’t see theists subscribing to.

    Your understanding of the range of views of theists is in error. Nancey Murphy is an obvious example.

  23. Gregory:
    As a professional philosopher (or, at least, as a teacher of philosophy) I expect KN/E to be able to provide an answer re: ideology. So far, he has come up well short.

    May I ask where you teach philosophy?

    “creationism is a scientific theory” according to KN/E. Yet much more clarity is achieved when it is understood that creationism is an ideology and so is Darwinism. As usual, I’m astonished about why this is so hard for people in the USA to accept, as if they want to linger in philosophical impoverishment even longer than they have to. Is it stubborn arrogance, unwillingness to recognise a superior tradition in PoS than Americans have yet ‘developed’?

    I don’t know how they do things in other countries, but here in ‘Murrica, claiming that those who disagree with you are arrogant blockheads does not constitute an argument. More to the point, your (rhetorically excessive) statements here are puzzling. The idea that there is a philosophical worldview associated with the theory of evolution is certainly familiar to American philosophers of science, as is the idea that adherents of creationism are motivated by their worldview. And the mere question of terminology — using “Darwinism” to refer to an ideology — can’t reflect the impoverishment of American PoS. So what exactly are you complaining about? Which American philosophers of science are you objecting to?

    Yes, it would. American PoS is largely idiotic and remedial. Most Americans are stuck on ‘methodological naturalism’ vs. ‘philosophical naturalism.’ Neil Rickert’s statement “Philosophy of science is mostly bullshit” demonstrates that most effectively.

    Most Americans, including Neil Rickert, are not philosophers of science. What do his views have to do with the state of American PoS?

    Self-styled ‘high-minded’ thinkers who still can’t see beyond Feynman’s myopia “Philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds,” need to go back to school or just go to the library with a good list and possibly eventually elevate their thoughts in science, philosophy, theology/worldview discourse.

    So how is philosophy of science useful to scientists?

  24. Steve Schaffner: May I ask where you teach philosophy?

    I post anonymously because I worry that my participation on sites like this would look “bad”, because they are not “serious” philosophy. So I’d rather not reveal too much personal information. But I feel comfortable saying this much: I got my Ph.D. in the early 2000s, with a concentration in 19th- and 20th-century German and American philosophy. I’ve published a handful of articles in that area, all in respectable but second-tier journals. And I’ve been teaching at full-time at state universities, but not as a tenure-track professor. These days I work in the intersections of pragmatism, phenomenology, and critical theory. I find the evolution/creation/ID debate fascinating but I haven’t yet figured out how to write any professional philosophy about it.

  25. So how is philosophy of science useful to scientists?

    Yes, I would like to see a single example where academic philosophy has contributed to a scientific discovery. Or even the name of a cutting edge scientist whose work is strongly dependent on academic training in philosophy.

    Perhaps the explainers of science — journalists and entry level teachers — benefit.

  26. Kantian Naturalist: I post anonymously because I worry that my participation on sites like this would look “bad”, because they are not “serious” philosophy. So I’d rather not reveal too much personal information.But I feel comfortable saying this much: I got my Ph.D. in the early 2000s, with a concentration in 19th- and 20th-century German and American philosophy.I’ve published a handful of articles in that area, all in respectable but second-tier journals.And I’ve been teaching at full-time at state universities, but not as a tenure-track professor. These days I work in the intersections of pragmatism, phenomenology, and critical theory.I find the evolution/creation/ID debate fascinating but I haven’t yet figured out how to write any professional philosophy about it.

    I’m interested in your response, but I wasn’t asking you; I was asking Gregory, since he’s the one he said taught philosophy. (Admittedly, he probably didn’t mean that, but it’s what he actually wrote — if one chooses to read with a slavish devotion to English grammar. I get persnickety when accused of being a dumbass because I’m an American; I prefer to be thought a dumbass on my own merits.)

    Arguing with (or about) creationists doesn’t do much for me professionally as a geneticist, either, but I’m in a stable enough position, and far enough along in life, not to care.

  27. I’m not wholly unaware of folks like Nancey Murphy, I just find their particular arguments beg the question. Here’s an interesting essay on why their arguments are rejected from a Christian POV:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/contents/379/arj/v4/emergentism_physicalism.pdf

    That said, I will grant you that that are a very few folks who are trying to reconcile their Christianity with modern scientific concepts. I applaud that in principle, but such theological/philosophical wranglings are certainly not even a small minority of theistic belief at this point.

  28. Steve, I think you may have misunderstood Gregory’s syntax. He’s not saying (in the statement that you are responding to) that he teaches philosophy; he’s saying that since KN teaches philosophy he (KN) ought to be able to provide an answer wrt ideology. Note the followup statement – “so far he has come up well short.” I don’t think Gregory is referring to himself coming up short, but rather KN coming up short.

  29. “May I ask where you teach philosophy?” – Steve Schaffner

    Yes, that’s my error. I meant the sentence to refer to KN/E, who has previously said here that he is a professor of philosophy. I thank him for answering.

    I did a master’s degree in philosophy, but don’t teach philosophy, per se. Of course, as I’m a proponent of the idea of ‘philosophy in science’ and did a PhD, I guess it makes sense that I do involve ‘philosophy’ in my research and teaching too. My approach to ‘science’ is closer to sociology of science (or STS), but it necessarily involves philosophy of science and I’ve studied this field and worked in it with some world class scholars. Indeed, the notion of history, philosophy and sociology of science (HPSS) is growing in importance/relevance as we live in risk societies where science (and technology) is both a blessing and a curse to our safety and self-identities.

    In the USA, this can be seen in the move from Michael Ruse (1981, PoS) to Steve Fuller (2005, SoS) as ‘experts’ in your creationism/IDism schoolboard court showcases. Once one involves sociology on the topic of ‘DOING natural science,’ e.g. following natural scientists around and reporting on what they actually do (ala Bruno Latour), the auro of the scientist-genius hyper-rational hero becomes an amusing fiction.

    Natural scientists are not the new Clergy, as some people seem to think. They function poorly as objects of social worship (certainly Francis Collins, one of the most ‘famous’ American scientists wouldn’t want to be ‘worshipped’). Ineed, they are not actually even capable of speaking with a ‘God’s-eye-view,’ flawed as all of them/us are. They are often just normal people who happen to have studied a particular narrow specialism in a department of science at a local university, having gained access to significant grants and resources (e.g. equipment) if they are a leader in their chosen field.

    “I get persnickety when accused of being a dumbass because I’m an American.” – Steve

    Let’s be clear: Not all Americans are dumbasses, obviously. That is not what I said. What is important, however, is that PoS, and let’s go broader, HPSS, is quite seriously under-developed as a field of knowledge in the USA. Do you wish to disagree, Steve? Very few natural-physical scientists have taken courses in HPSS, just like very few humanities scholars have done so. This partly accounts for why people say things like petrushka does, as if philosophy ought to be ridiculed, marginalised, beaten down as a slave for ‘science’ (the hand that rocks the cradle in a scientistic era) and that its only validity could be found *if* it ‘contributes to scientific discovery.’ Such a view demonstrates the grave problem facing a highly developed scientific and technological society such as the USA that has lost touch with wisdom, drowning in information. This is not just a challenge for the USA and it is different than Weber’s ‘secularisation/disenchantment of the world’ thesis, as people become rational-scientific robots. We need new voices in this new era, which are awakening in the post-Cold War, post-911, post-uni-polar world system.

    Does it occur to anyone that PoS might be ‘useful’ and ‘helpful’ for non-scientists too?

    Philosophy is a mediating discipline between science (, technology) and theology/worldview. It curbs excesses on various sides, whether scientism, fideism or secularism. For those who prefer extremes, they believe there is simply no need for philosophy; instead sticking to their ideological blindness in the names of IDism, Darwinism or new atheism. Moderates and thoughtful persons, I’m sure at least some people reading this would agree, choose to invite and explore the power of philosophy in human life and understanding. KN/E and I are surely on the same page about that.

    “I find the evolution/creation/ID debate fascinating but I haven’t yet figured out how to write any professional philosophy about it.” – KN/E

    Hmmm, I haven’t found this too difficult, it’s just a matter of how it’s framed. And as we all agree that IDism isn’t ‘scientific’ (i.e. I’d call it an ideology, just as much as Darwinism or creationism), so there is no need to compromise one’s scholarly integrity just for calling it what it is. I gave a TEDx talk on the topic, with references to evolution, creation and ID and the IDM useful as a launching point for a broader and imo more fruitful theme.

    At one of the Darwin celebration conferences in 2009 I presented and later published a paper on “The Problem of Evolution.” There I mentioned ‘Intelligent Design Theory,’ but only as a side note. Such ‘revolutionary’ (ala Kuhn) fervour IDists have, just like their creationist brothers and sisters. But this is quite different from the actual practise of responsible scholarship in the audience of one’s colleagues and peers.

    I guess that’s a significant part of my criticism of American PoS – creationism is still far too socially significant in the USA; it’s obvious American PoS simply hasn’t done its job or been able to convince a large demographic in your country that the ideology of creationism differs from responsible belief in Creation. If your PoSs had done their job convincingly, the situation would currently be different. This is partly why I harp on ‘ideology’ – I think that distinguishing ideology from science, philosophy and theology/worldview will eventually help YECs discard their ignorant, anti-science position, which makes the USA, along with Turkey, a laughing stock on the world stage*.

    “You can’t do sociology without history, history without sociology, and you can’t do either without a proper philosophical understanding of human motivation.” – Charles Taylor

    p.s. “I do believe in a God however.” – Robin

    My apology for assuming you are an atheist. Does that make you a ‘theist’? Let me offer openly that I’m a theist, in case that gives you courage to respond. About some things in life, one cannot operate as an incorrigible ‘skeptic.’

    p.p.s. *this was confirmed to me even today, when a European colleague responded to an international survey I linked him to about acceptance/rejection of ‘evolution’ commenting specifically on his surprise about the USA.

  30. p.s. “I do believe in a God however.” – Robin

    My apology for assuming you are an atheist. Does that make you a ‘theist’?

    No idea, but I tend to think not. Theism, to me, implies some form of anthropomorphizing, or at least personalizing, a supernatural deity. Theists tend to create gods in their own image (or at least hold that gods have characteristics that are understandable). The God I believe in is not a living entity per se, though I suppose one could quibble about what “living” actually means. It has few, if any, characteristics in common with living organisms. Thus, I do not believe in a God that has any specific awareness of humanity or any other Earthly organism, at least no more awareness than…say…gravity.

    Does that make me a “theist”? You tell me.

    About some things in life, one cannot operate as an incorrigible ‘skeptic.’

    Well, I certainly disagree with this in principle. I can’t think of anything that inherently warrants a dismissal of skepticism. Do you have something in mind?

  31. keiths: Steve was posing that question to Gregory.

    KN: Whoops! My bad!

    But Gregory should just copy and paste your response!

  32. On perusing Luskin’s piece, the first part “What Intelligent Design Is Not” is not relevant

    sigh. really alan?

    no wonder you folks here at tsz are so confused about id. what it is not, is just not relevant. right.

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