Finally, someone with a little more credibility and exposure than myself attempts to explain some of what I’ve been trying to tell people about intelligent design, in this article from today’s issue of my local paper, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. (In the interest of fairness, here’s another perspective on the subject that I rather liked.) Unfortunately, it seems they went a little light on quotes from the professor who is supposed to be the suibject f the article, to make more room for quotes from others of the same old lines against ID that we’ve already heard time and again. I suspect Dr. Gonzales had several more interesting things to say in his interview that we didn’t get the chance to read.
Taken as the possibility that the intricate workings of nature and the universe bear the hallmarks of being the product of an intelligent organizing force, as they appear to many to do, ID is essentially a scientific hypotheses. Exploration of this hypotheses would likely marshal resources of scientific intellect from the fields of not only biology, chemistry, and physics, but also from psychology and artificial intelligence, and such a line of inquiry may now have access to technological resouces without which key angles of research may have been unfeasable in the past. It’s also a field of scientific inquiry that by necessity strikes at the very nature of intelligence and creativity. For those reasons, I think it’s worthwhile as science.
What I think is screwing it up for everybody is more of the same religious and anti-religious zealots that have been scewing up lots of good things for everybody for a long time. Religious zealots being far too quick to jump at any mention from the scientific community of the possibility of intelligent forces at work in nature as scientific legitemization of the whole body of their particular brand of religious dogma, and anti-religious zealots being equally quick to confuse that same acknowledgement with the whole of religious dogma itself. And a high degree of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of science itself on both sides, such that you’d think most of these people must have grown up attending American schools during the past few decades or something. Oh yeah…
There’s also the continuing presentation the debate as a simplistic ID vs. Evolution dichotomy.. I was under the impression that ID was never intended to be a direct refutation of the whole of evolution theory, but merely a new theory worth looking into. Sure, it does strongly suggest an alternative to evolution, but I don’t think it takes a whole lot of imagination to think of ways that evolution and ID might coexist and even be compatible – but then, imagination is another thing that seems to be lacking among many of those in our society who shout loudest. Besides, evolution has become a bit of a dogma itself and could probably use some questioning – what are the anti-ID crowd so afraid of? If evolution is such a solid theory, it ought to be able to stand up on its own merits against the consideration of competing theories without need for forcible suppression, right? In fact, would not evolution, assuming it doesn’t crumble before a particular line of criticism, emerge stronger for the reconsideration? I was of the impression that continual review and re-examination of theories and alternative theories is what keeps science strong. If that is so, then I submit that the protests do evolution theory no favors.
Anyway, I think asking or stating simply whether ID is or isn’t science misses the mark. What makes something science is not what is studies, but rather how it is studied. Debating over whether something is science is about as much use as debating whether something is art. Science is not so much a subject or a set of subjects, as it is a process by which we may endeavor to learn about almost any subject. And even being refuted or unpopular in the scientific community doesn’t make something not science, any more than we would now say that Goldman’s Causal Theory Of Knowing, being “no longer defended,” therefore no longer qualifies as being philosophy.
Thus I think that any impulse that seeks to limit what questions science ought to explore (laying aside issues of science being used in destructive or unethical ways, which I think are more a question of the application of knowledge that is the product of science, than of science iteself), and therefore the movement to remove the very question of intelligent design from the realm of science, is in my opinion wrongheaded.
But then, what could I possibly know? I’m just a public-school-educated undergrad who works a software gig.