Sunday, February 24, 2008
Filtering Out the Truth
... Dembski's ["explanatory filter"] works like this: If you cannot think of a way for natural regularities and/or chance to explain something, then say that a "designer" did it. Dembski's "design inference" is nothing more than a formalization of a simple god-of-the-gaps argument. It is the standard argument from ignorance put in the form of a flow chart.
In the past, Dembski has tried to deny the charge that his is an argument from ignorance (e.g., Dembski [Intelligent design: The bridge between science and theology], 1999, p. 276) but in a recent statement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, he admits but tries to excuse this approach, saying, "An argument from ignorance is still better than a pipe dream in which you're deluding yourself. I'm at least admitting to ignorance as opposed to pretending that you've solved the problem when you haven't" (Monastersky, ["Seeking deity in the details. Chronicle of Higher Education. 48 (17)] 2001) .
However, design theorists do not just "admit to ignorance" but rather claim to find a transcendent designer in the purported gaps in our knowledge. When arguing against evolution, Dembski and other anti-evolutionists are fond of quoting the old saw that nothing can come from nothing. However, in this basic, recurring argument, they ignore their own rule and make an exception for design, which they leave unexplained. Given the religious assumptions that underlie the ID movement's hope for a "theistic science," it is not surprising that we find at its core this epistemic counterpart of creation ex nihilo.
- Robert T. Pennock, "God of the Gaps: The Argument From Ignorance and the Limits of Methodological Naturalism," Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond
Labels: Scientists Confront Creationism