From: John Burgeson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Mar 13 2003 - 18:14:18 EST
On whether ID is potentially good science -- or not.
The question was posed by me last December -- I did not do a good job of
posing it and the discussion quickly fell apart.
I will try again. Part of this post is a result of skimming Del Ratzsch's
book (see other post today) and part my own thinking.
It is still incomplete and fuzzy, and for that I apologize.
There appear to be at least four precepts scientists take for a priori
1. If there is observational data, a theory based on
methodological naturalism must be constructed.
2. It is not permissible to NOT have a theory. The gap must always be
>3. If two theories exist, one is chosen and the other rejected on
>extra-scientific criteria such as consilience, beauty, symmetry, Ockham's
>Razor or some combination of these. Note that this list is probably
>incomplete. Criteria such as which offer the most interesting research
>programs, which has the most prestigious names in support, etc. also play a
4. If a theory survives long enough, it is referred to as "fact." Of course,
this may be just word definitions. I like to equate "fact" with "truth," at
least verisimilitudinous truth. Maybe I can do that.
The ID folks challenge #1, and I think that is simply wrong, for reasons we
have been over too many times. Note that MN can include interventions and
shaping by intelligent agents, such as humans and, in some case, animals.
Aliens also qualify -- if there are any.
#2 is one I have trouble with. Science always has to have an answer. Having
no answer is seen as something incorrect. I have some problem with this."I
don't know" or "I don't have a theory" are not, to me, signs of weakness. Of
I have trouble with #3 also. Use of the simpler model seems to be an
obvious choice, but the upgrading of it to "the only model" does not seem
appropriate. As most of us understand, given any finite set of observational
data, there are an infinite number of theories that can be constructed to
explain them. Yes -- even the earth-centric universe cannot be disproved, in
a Cartesian sense. What if two theories both explain, but one has more
consilience and the other more beauty and symmetry?
So far, as I understand, ID has not come up with anything terribly useful --
that is, science today is pretty much where it would have been had ID never
been invented. What must the ID folks show to convince the world of science
they are to be taken seriously?
Suppose the ID movement comes up with some really unique research programs
based on ID arguments? Is this enough? Suppose one or more of these programs
results in some really significant technological advances? Would this be
I don't know an answer.
That's enough musing for today. Forgive the rambling.
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