Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Unintelligent Denigration

Every time I just about get to the point where I think that "conservative" philosophy and Christianity can be harmonized, someone from the conservative camp comes along and proves me wrong.

The latest case in point is John Derbyshire at National Review Online. His latest piece on Intelligent Design is just awful.

Where to start? Well, first he gets the very definition of ID wrong...

the theory that life on earth has developed by a series of supernatural miracles performed by the God of the Christian Bible, for which it is pointless to seek any naturalistic explanation


Has he even bothered to read ID material? The sum and substance of ID is to determine by scientific means (statistics, complexity studies) whether naturalistic explanations of the origins and development of life are probable, or the work of an (UNDEFINED) external intelligence. Period. One does not have to be a Christian to be an ID proponent (granted, most are, but there is room for Jewish and even Islamic input). Derbyshire has hopelessly confused the faith of the proponents with the assertions of the theory itself.

The article descends from this point into a series of ad hominem attacks on ID, linking it to everything from ESP to the Victorian/New Age speculations of Atlantis.

His counterproposal is even more outrageous...

What, then, should we teach our kids in high-school science classes? The answer seems to me very obvious. We should teach them consensus science, and we should teach it conservatively. Consensus science is the science that most scientists believe ought to be taught. "Conservatively" means eschewing theories that are speculative, unproven, require higher math, or even just are new, in favor of what is well settled in the consensus. It means teaching science unskeptically, as settled fact.


Anybody with any knowledge of how "science" really works could tell you that this view is as blind and naive as Derbyshire accuses ID proponents of being. The "concensus" of today is the "junk theory" of tomorrow. In many fields, there is NO concensus beyond the most basic of propositions. And the fact that "concensuses" can be (and all too often, have been) more the product of prejudice and politics than acutal scientific research is a known fact of history. (There was surely a "concensus" for eugenics in the first half of this century...)

Derbyshire seems more concerned with maintaining the philosophical status quo than he is in real enquiries as to the truth of Darwinism. That may be a good conservative attitude - but a poor scientific one. And fighting for barring fair hearing for non-naturalistic views of reality is certainly not an attitude for a Christian.

2 Comments:

Blogger hazeydaze77 said...

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11:11 AM  
Blogger burttd said...

Grrr. No more open comments. I hate spammers.

11:33 AM  

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