RE: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Wed Sep 04 2002 - 23:23:58 EDT

  • Next message: Terry M. Gray: "(no subject)"

    I join the chorus of praise for Howard's surgery on "No Free Lunch." I =
    especially appreciate, Howard, your dissection of Dembski's rhetorical =
    strategy. What I have come to see, thanks to you, is that there are at =
    least two rhetorical strategies at work in ID literature. One is the =
    terminological legerdemain employed in the defining of =
    technical/scientific terms like "chance" and "complexity that you have =
    pointed out." If you define the term to fit the end you have in mind, =
    then of course your argument will come out just to your liking. The =
    other, a close relative I suppose, is the rhetoric of public pleading, =
    which involves the use of emotionally laden terms and notions like =
    "evolution is philosophy, not science," the charge that scientists are =
    dishonest or in denial in their presentation of evolution, and the =
    appeal to "fairness"--let's hear both sides of the argument; it's the =
    American way. The kind of rhetoric one finds in Wedgies like Johnson, =
    Wells, and Santorum who want to win more troops over to their side of =
    the culture war.

         Both present a challenge to those who see the flaws in ID's =
    scientific arguments as well as their wretched theology, for all of =
    their literature, it seems to me, is aimed primarily at a broad and =
    general public rather than a scientific audience. One audience I can =
    think of are college alums like a classmate, who was not a science =
    major, who wants to be assured that there are good scientific arguments =
    for ID (he's read _Darwin's Black Box_) and is attracted to what appears =
    to be an intelligent argument but is not really equipped to dissect it. =
    Another audience consists of the great number of people in this country =
    who are disturbed over the secularization of public education, have been =
    persuaded that evolution is one of the causes, and want an alternative =
    that brings God back into the classroom. They want people like Johnson =
    and Wells to be right.

         I think the fundamental challenge to ID remains: get beyond the =
    fancy footwork and produce the positive science to put your hypothesis =
    on sound theoretical footing, and convincingly demonstrate that =
    "theistic science" produces better science than metholodical naturalism =
    (and you have to accept our definition of MN). But the other battle =
    (the right imagery since they have declared war on "Darwinism") needs to =
    be fought in the public arena with a rhetorical strategy that gets the =
    public's attention. And when you are part of the "excluded middle," =
    that's difficult to do. But we who share this perspective must work at =
    it. Aristotle asserted that rhetoric's persuasive power should be used =
    in the service of truth. How might we with rhetorical effectiveness get =
    the truth across in the popular media that creation and evolution belong =
    together, and that the God of ID ("whoever this Designer might be--we =
    don't know") bears no resemblance to the God of Christian faith, or any =
    faith? Despite the efforts of many good people, including some on this =
    list, this voice is still not adequately heard.

    Bob Schneider

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