Re: Identity of the ID designer

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Mon Dec 16 2002 - 09:00:04 EST

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    Hi Burgy,

    You asked:

    > Once again I ask if we can talk about the science, and not about either the
    > theology or the motivations of Dembski, Johnson, et. al. I am sure that to
    > many those subjects are interesting; they are not interesting to me.

    Two points:

    1) It is indeed possible, I believe, to to examine and critique, as
    science, some of the particular claims that the ID movement makes as
    scientific claims. The second half of my essay review of Dembski's No Free
    Lunch falls mostly in that territory (you will find this essay -- "E. coli
    at the No Free Lunchroom" -- both at the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics
    and Religion website and the Counterbalance website).

    2) If, however, one wishes to examine and critique the ID movement as a
    cultural phenomenon, then the question of what motivates advocates of that
    movement is extremely relevant to that examination and critique. Some of the
    first part of my "E. coli" essay falls into this category.

    I take it that you are interested in exploring 1) without simultaneously
    getting entangled in 2), right? Fair enough.

    Two factors, however, sometimes make this difficult.

    1. The ID literature often entangles these two questions -- religious
    motivation and scientific merit -- both in its criticism of evolutionary
    naturalism and it its rhetoric favoring the idea of non-natural,
    form-conferring action by an unembodied, choice-making agent (a.k.a.
    "intelligent design").

    2. A person may find it difficult to treat any claim (whether made by
    Dembski or Dawkins) as if it were a purely scientific claim proceeding from
    purely scientific motivations when there are strong reasons for suspecting
    that the claim is in fact strongly motivated by religious (or
    anti-religious) factors.

    Howard Van Till

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