Saturday, August 27, 2005

Was Darwin a rank idiot?, or more ID idiotarianism

Glenn Reynolds approvingly links to an Edward J. Larson op-ed in the L.A. Times. Here's the money-quote:

Intelligent design, despite its proponents' claims to the contrary, isn't modern science. It's part of that rebellion against it. Scientists look for natural explanations for natural phenomena. Their best explanations, if they survive rigorous testing, become scientific theories.

Intelligent design, in contrast, is a critique of all that. Its proponents may challenge the sufficiency of evolutionary explanations for the origin of species but they have not — and cannot — offer testable alternative explanations. The best they can offer is the premise that, if no natural explanation suffices, then God must have done it. Maybe God did do it, but if so, it's beyond science.

This piece is well worthy of the justifiably low opinion people have of the TIMES, since, as my friend and co-blogger Bill Ramey has pointed out to me countless times, this construction of ID makes Darwin out to be either intellectually dishonest or a rank idiot.

According to the above, all Darwin had to do was put a one-line sentence on the first page of THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES:

"The belief that God created the world is non-scientific."

and he could have spent the rest of OOS simply outlining his theory.

Does he do so? No, he does not. He treats ID as a theory in need of refutation before he can establish his own. If that is true, then by the law of non-contradiction, it cannot be a non-theory that science cannot discuss. The late Stephen J. Gould was infamous for this sort of giveaway-takeback disregard for the prime law of logic and rational thinking, but I can honestly say that I am unaware of Darwin himself being intellectually dishonest on this point.

Two even more risible notions that are the logical upshot of Larson's claim are that modern science didn't exist before 1859 and that belief in the ordered rationality of the cosmos is poisonous to science. The first would make Sir Isaac Newton,* Kepler and virtually every other classical astronomer a non-scientist. The second is totally refuted by the real history of Western science, a subject which, contrary to the blurb at the bottom of his column, Larson seems to be pathetically uninformed about. "Thinking God's thoughts after him" does NOT entail simply throwing up one's hands and saying "God did it," on the contrary it spurred scientists on to understand the reasons behind the phenomena that they observed. (cf. the astronomers I mention above) You may think that ID is a bad or paltry or even outdated scientific theory, but it cannot be denied that the hero of evolutionists himself treated it AS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY. Larson mentions that Americans distrust Darwinism and appeals to the patronizing notion that evolution hurts their widdle egos. Instead, he should be more concerned about the intellectual integrity of the arguments that he employs, and their implications.

* Newton even believed in far "wilder" things than ID without it impairing his scientific ability in the least, BTW.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aside from the 'two theories' of existence I cannot help but notice the common differences of opinion between Christians and athiests regarding one another. Christians basically view the Evolutionists as sinners while the Evolutionists view Christians as dangerous and something to be denounced and oppressed. Christians threaten the athiest in the next life while athiests threaten Christians in this life. dw