Re: Judge Jones sided with the Discovery Institute and ruled against the Dove...

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Thu Dec 29 2005 - 13:50:25 EST

On Thu, 29 Dec 2005 09:02:15 -0500 "Ted Davis" <>
> <in part>
> TED: The issue of ID not being science has been decided by the
> politics of
> science; ie, by who controls access to publication in scientific
> journals.
> Typically, ideas that are this marginal (ie, marginal in terms of
> the level
> of support they have among the relevant specialists) need to have at
> least
> one or two prominent advocates before they can really get space in
> the
> professional literature (this is my impression from the history of
> science,
> though I haven't thought about it too carefully and I may be flat
> wrong in
> several instances), and ID doesn't have those advocates yet. If
> (e.g.)
> someome as prominent as the late Steve Gould, who liked
> controversial ideas,
> would have advocated for it, then it might now be getting space in
> the prof
> literature; but so far it isn't, except in the obvious and highly
> controversial instance involving Steve Meyer's paper in the
> Washington
> biology journal (the name escapes me right now)--and the shameful
> response
> that the society made to this publication, which did go through peer
> review,
> does remind me of the response that the church made to Galileo's
> Dialogues,
> after it too went through peer review (of a sort--it passed the
> offiicial
> church censors).
> We must not overplay this point, about ID not getting published in
> scientific journals, since to a very significant degree it is a
> sociological
> phenomenon rather than an intellectual one. At the same time, we
> must not
> underplay it, since the sociology of science is a part of the
> scientific
> process itself. Ideas really do need to get political support
> within a
> scientific community, if they will have a chance to play out; and
> sometimes
> that support can be earned by good arguments and sometimes other
> factors
> (such as bias for or against a given religious perspective) do come
> into
> play. My suspicion is that both of these things are in play right
> now.
While it's true that there is politics involved, for there always is,
Judge Jones made specific reference to the disingenuous refusal of TDI to
specify the designer when it is patent that everyone understands a
reference to deity. The only way a reference to any deity in a scientific
study can be other than religious is in the description by a sociologist
or anthropologist of the beliefs of a group. "x believes that ..." is
noncommittal on the part of the describer. But ID is committed, not
describing some other belief. When philosophers or theologians speak of
the deity, they are not doing science. History of science is also

Judge Jones also referred to the notion adopted by IDers that any problem
with "Darwin" is evidence for ID. A parallel argument is basic to YEC.
But the claim is nonsense. The notion that the blood-clotting mechanism
and bacterial flagellum cannot be explained naturalistically requires the
tacit assumption that they can never be explained. But this is a
God-of-the-gaps approach despite all claims to the contrary. I have
already encountered claims that some of the gaps have been filled.

You refer to scientific notions being adopted when some notable scientist
adopts them. Was Wegener's discounted theory finally adopted because a
prominent scientist took note of it, or because there was finally
evidence for Wegener's claim? Can you name me one scientific view that
was widely adopted because someone famous declared for it in the absence
of solid evidence for it? Even such notions as phlogiston and caloric
were explanatory in the context of their time, but fell to evidence, not
to personality.

A very different question is whether the courts' interpretations and
applications of the First Amendment are correct. They determine legal
decisions about the teaching of Creationism and ID in public schools. But
they do not determine what is science.
Received on Thu Dec 29 13:54:04 2005

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