Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

What is Intelligent Design Theory?

It seems to me that there are at least four different ways we might characterize Intelligent Design theory.

1. As an alternative to Evolution. On this view ID folks would bear more or less the same relationship to Evolutionary biologists as Copernicans did to Aristotelian astronomers in the Sixteenth century.

The problem with this characterization is that Intelligent Design theory of itself seems too vague and minimalistic to constitute a real alternative to evolution. All ID folks will say is that life on this planet is a result (at least in part) of some intelligent force or being(s). They deliberately will not say what the nature of this force is (God? aliens? time-travelers?), nor do they have much as a group to say about how this force accomplished its task (was it done ex nihilo? did it happen instantaneously or over time, and if so how much time? was it done directly or via some mechanism, and if the latter, what is the mechanism?) Some ID advocates are willing to accept large swaths of evolutionary theory (Michael Behe, for example, is willing to accept the common ancestry of all living things) others aren’t. Without saying more, it’s hard to see why ID theory couldn’t even be compatible with Evolution. Continue reading

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Education, Evolution, Philosophy, Science | 3 Comments

The Dogma of Evolution

As a follow-up to my Expelled review, I’ve long noticed that critics of evolution often talk about evolution being a “religion”, supported by “faith” rather than reason, supported by a scientific “orthodoxy” that considers any questioning of evolutionary “dogma” to be “heresy”, and so forth. I find this rhetorical tactic a bit odd. Based on such statements, you would get the idea that the average critic of evolution thinks of religion as an insult, of faith as something bad, of heresy as good, of orthodoxy as stultifying, and dogma as unreasoned and unreasonable. In short, he attempts to degrade and insult evolution by comparing it to religion, which is odd, given that the average critic of evolution is not only religious, but objects to evolution precisely on religious grounds.

The truth is that religion, faith, orthodoxy, and dogma are all good things. Faith is not the enemy of Reason, it is her sister. Dogma is not an unnecessary evil, but a necessary good. Orthodoxy is liberating; it is heresy that is stifling. I can understand the rhetorical effect of using these terms in this way, and certainly opponents of evolution are not the only ones who do this, but it seems to me that any battle we win in this way will be a Pyrrhic victory.

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Evolution | Leave a comment