Saturday, June 24, 2006


A Tale of Two Quotes

The Berkeley Science Review has an article on Kevin Padian, Phillip Johnson and Dean Kenyon, all "Berkeleyans" who have been involved in the Intelligent Design movement. Padian was a witness for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board against the teaching of ID; Johnson is the generally acknowledged "Godfather" of the ID movement, having made it a popular anti-evolution strategy beginning in the 1990s with his book, Darwinism on Trial; and Kenyon was co-author of the ID "textbook," Of Pandas and People.

The article is interesting in its own right, but I particularly like two quotes from it. First from Padian on why he objected to the reading of the statement mandated by the Dover School Board:

I think it makes people stupid. I think essentially it makes them ignorant. It confuses them unnecessarily about things that are well understood in science, about which there is no controversy... I can do paleontology with people in Morocco, in Zimbabwe, in South Africa, in China, in India, any place around the world …We don't all share the same religious faith. We don't share the same philosophical outlook, but one thing is clear, and that is when we sit down at the table and do science, we put the rest of the stuff behind.

Then there is this from Johnson:

I also don't think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that's comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it's doable, but that's for them to prove . . . No product is ready for competition in the educational world.
This time it's hard to see where to disagree . . .

Personally, I don't think that Intelligent Design can in principle be a fully worked out theory of origins, seeing that it's not a theory of origins but rather a theory of causation.
ID can't be fully worked out because that would involve pinning down God. If your theory allows for (like the wonderful Harris cartoon) "then a miracle occurs" at any moment, how can you work it out?hz
Dembski is wrong about "Darwinists" not understanding what ID is about. Science supporters have seen from the beginning that ID is an attempt to inject divine causation into science; to, in effect, catch God in a laboratory beaker.

In an attempt to do it in a way that would skirt the Establishment clause of the Constitution, however, it was the ID advocates who tried to hide that fact, as Dembski continues to do with his unstated "causation," somehow separated from the agency of cause.

Most of us do not object to the argument that God can be a cause of phenomena in the universe, when made in its proper place: churches, homes and philosophy or religion classes. We object to dishonestly trying to hide God in a science class.
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