First, my apologies. I’ve been very slow in responding to comments this week (and am still catching up). This is due to a perfect storm of factors including publishing deadlines and the start of a new semester.
In this post I want to respond to two different issues, both relating to ID.
The first one is brought up by clamat in response to my critique of Expelled. Clamat writes:
“Did the Discovery Institute renounce the Wedge Document and I didn’t hear about it? Just because the basic claim of ID can be articulated neutrally doesn’t change the fact that virtually all of the people who promote ID appear to do so in service of a larger religious agenda.”
I don’t know how many times I have heard critics of ID bring up the Wedge document and it is a complete red herring. Actually, forget the red herring. This point stinks worse than a full diaper genie left in a Walmart parking lot on a summer afternoon.
Seems harsh? Awww, clamat can handle it.
So why the strong words? Because it is a bogus response, that’s why. Let me explain.
You’re in the market for a small car. You’ve seen the new Fiat 500 in your local Chrysler showroom. Clearly this is not your dad’s notoriously unreliable “Fix it again Tony” Fiat Spyder. This car is stylish and reliable. And it is getting great reviews from the automotive press. So should you buy?
But wait. (Though experiment begins here.) Imagine that a document is discovered, a “wedge document”, which reveals Fiat USA’s intention to eliminate the Chrysler brand in the next ten years and then buy a controlling interest in GM and Ford. Do the nefarious plans of those Fiat executives mean that you should cross the 500 off your list and buy an (ugh) Chevy Sonic instead?
And you can buy into ID without buying into the Discovery Institute’s wedge document. Poor clamat comes off like a desperate Chevy salesman who’ll try anything to dump his fleet of Sonics.
Now for the next comment. Mattk writes:
“clamat brings up the wedge document and that, along with a lot of other evidence, shows that ID in it’s original conception was a blatant attempt by religious interests to undermine the teaching of evolutionary theory rather than originating as a scientific theory to explain observations. However, that does not necessarily mean that it could not, in principle become a real scientific theory. I don’t think that it has though.”
This reveals an important misunderstanding. Intelligent design is not a scientific theory. Rather it is a claim in the philosophy of science regarding what kind of causes can be appealed to in scientific theorization. If it is legitimate to appeal to intelligent causes in scientific theorization then we can consider whether there are any instances where such an appeal would belong in a theory. But whether or not there is any legitimate theory which appeals to intelligent causes is a secondary question. The primary question remains whether such inferences are legitimate in principle. And raising fears about a document associated with a particular Seattle think tank which was written in the 1990s merely obscures that important question.