Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is Intelligent Design Science?

Would you like to foment a lively discussion? Just ask a few friends if intelligent design (ID) theory is scientific. Probably most creationists would say, “Yes.” A few will say, “No.” And others won’t be sure--possibly because they do not understand what scientific means. My discussions with several theistic friends on this topic have resulted in a lively exchange, but not much agreement.

If you like surprises, consider that some prominent atheists consider ID to be both scientific and constitutional to discuss in the classroom. Prominent professor of law and philosophy Thomas Nagel of New York University, a prolific author and brilliant thinker, has stated, “I suspect that the assumption that science can never provide evidence for the occurrence of something that cannot be scientifically explained is the principle reason for the belief that ID cannot be science; but so far as I can see, that assumption is without merit.”

In his article “Public Education and Intelligent Design” in Philosophy and Public Affairs, he continues: “A purely semantic classification of a hypothesis or its denial as belonging or not to science is of limited interest to someone who wants to know whether the hypothesis is true or false.” Nagle also states, “The denier that ID is science faces the following dilemma. Either he admits that the intervention of such a designer is possible, or he does not. If he does not, he must explain why that belief is more scientific than the belief that a designer is possible.”

In previous posts I have quoted atheist philosopher Bradley Monton and agnostic philosopher David Berlinski. Monton maintains the legitimacy of viewing ID as science and feels we need to ask a more important question: Is ID true?

Evolutionary scientists poke fun at theistic creationists and believers in ID. Their well-publicized statements encourage an army of supporters to endorse their naturalistic worldview. They become enthusiastic cheerleaders for the cause of philosophical naturalism. This cheerleader squad takes comfort from many evolutionary scientists who endorse a naturalistic worldview.

It is ironic that some of the best thinking is being done by a few atheist philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and Bradley Monton. Analyses of the ID/creation vs. evolution discussion should not be based on simplistic, default positions that ID and creationism are irrational and unscientific. Dr. Nagel’s detailed analysis illustrates this well.