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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

White House press secretary on intelligent design controversy

Tony Snow, White House press secretary (April 2006), offered this opinion re the intelligent design controversy:
Scientific inquiry and ID provide useful angles of approach to ultimate questions. Here's how to make both sides happy: Let science teachers tell kids that science is a matter of inspired guesswork, not of invincible decree. Eventually, new theories will arise to wipe away weaknesses and inconsistencies in today's scientific orthodoxy.

Also, let students know that a sizeable number of scientists believe in a Designer, since science involves a quest to discover and decode universal design. (A sizeable number of scientists also don't believe in G-d.) Meanwhile, issue similar warnings against silly abuses of holy writ, since scripture has little or nothing to say about matters of "hard" science.

I like Snow's approach insofar as he intuits that the controversy originated with the attempt to force Darwinism as the creation story of materialism on the school system. But, like so many media types, he does not appear able to grapple with the possibility that Darwinism may actually be an incorrect theory of origins. He thinks he is flattering the ID types by allowing that they are on "God's" side. But ID types who deserve any respect want to know what is factually true. And if they are religious, that is the only way they can serve God in this matter.

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Insufferability award?: Here's a strong entry

Author of Intellectual Morons, Dan Flynn argues that Darwinists should stick to science and ID types to faith (November 14, 2005):

Of the Darwinists, he says,
So insecure are the Darwinists that the Kansas State Board of Education's rather sensible decision to introduce materials into the curriculum critical of the theory of evolution, which, in the board's own words, "do not include Intelligent Design," became a target of attack. "We're becoming a laughingstock," board member Janet Waugh lamented, "not only of the nation but of the world." The Washington Post, the Seattle Times, and other news outlets incorrectly reported that the Kansas board mandated the teaching of Intelligent Design, which it clearly and explicitly does not. "Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution," the board states, "the curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory." In other words, the board mandates teaching evolution but does not mandate teaching Intelligent Design. Any number of news reports lead readers to believe the opposite.

As for the ID guys, he says,
The universe may have been designed by a Supreme Intelligence, but there is no scientific evidence saying this is so. Forget the damage done to science in Intelligent Design's name. By holding matters of faith to scientific standards, Intelligent Design stands to erode belief.

He ends with
Supporters of Intelligent Design demote faith to science. Darwinists elevate science to faith. Both camps would be best served by staying within their own realm.

Flynn makes quite clear that he thinks that science is about facts and intelligent design is about high-minded but unsupported nonsense. But - in the polite way that befits a man who avoids giving offense to the dear little pious tea grannies - he wants us to know that faith would merely be demoted if it enjoyed any support from facts at all.

Such insufferable smugness about the very nature of the universe and its knowability! - and, worse luck, all in defense of a merely silly idea like neo-Darwinism

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Thinkquote of the day: Why there is an intelligent design controversy

Rodney Stark, sociologist and author of For the Glory of God, confronts (One America, September 2004) in "Fact, Fable, and Darwin" the main reason for the ongoing ridiculous adulation of Darwin. Despite being nearly two years old, it is still worth reading:
I write as neither a creationist nor a Darwinist, but as one who knows what is probably the most disreputable scientific secret of the past century: There is no plausible scientific theory of the origin of species! Darwin himself was not sure he had produced one, and for many decades every competent evolutionary biologist has known that he did not. Although the experts have kept quiet when true believers have sworn in court and before legislative bodies that Darwin's theory is proven beyond any possible doubt, that's not what reputable biologists, including committed Darwinians, have been saying to one another.

There is much interesting material here, both about motives:

Without question, Charles Darwin would be among the most prominent biologists in history even if he hadn't written The Origin of Species in 1859. But he would not have been deified in the campaign to "enlighten" humanity. The battle over evolution is not an example of how heroic scientists have withstood the relentless persecution of religious fanatics. Rather, from the very start it primarily has been an attack on religion by militant atheists who wrap themselves in the mantle of science.

and the state of the evidence:
According to Steven Stanley, another distinguished evolutionist, doubts raised by the fossil record were "suppressed" for years. Stanley noted that this too was a tactic begun by Huxley, always careful not to reveal his own serious misgivings in public. Paleontologist Niles Eldridge and his colleagues have said that the history of life demonstrates gradual transformations of species, "all the while really knowing that it does not." This is not how science is conducted; it is how ideological crusades are run.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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