Thursday, February 02, 2006


More on Daily Telegraph ID Letters

Thanks to my old friend David West for posting me Monday's Telegraph letters page (Jan 30th 2006. cf. Dr Meyer's op-ed piece caused some of the usual Darwinian suspects to write in, together with one letter of support. The next day's letter page (see previous posting on this matter) was more positive.

Matt Ridley said that ID is 'merely a dishonest attempt to repackage a literal interpretation of the Bible as science -and so sneak it into the American school curriculum, where religion is banned.' Frankly, I resent being called dishonest. I resent being told that I believe in 'a literal interpretation of the Bible' creation accounts in the first place (unless he means to say that I believe God created, which I do, but which is not a part of ID), since I am not a 'creationist' in the sense he clearly means. And if Ridley's explanation is true, why would anyone in Britian support ID? I'm British and I support ID. But religion is not banned from schools here! So why do I support it? Could it possibly be because I was intellectually convinced by the arguments?! Ridley also falsely represents ID as an argument which moves from 'living things are complicated' striaght to 'Therefore they must have been put together by an intelligent entity' (there is suddenly, and correctly, no mention of God here).

Steve Jones of University College London complains that Meyer, 'in explaining the difference between ID an biblical creationism' failed to mention Judge Jones' conclusion that ID is 'a mere re-labelling' of creationism. Funny that, because Meyer's whole point was that ID is not creationism, and that Judge Jone's conclusion was wrong! A Judge can be wrong you know, and Jones was, in this case, wrong. I know because I have read and interacted with the proponents of ID, and because I am a proponent of ID. Any creationist know's that ID is not creationism. Find one who has heard and read about ID and ask them. Ask them whether there are some similarities between ID and creationism, and ask them whether or not they are one and the same thing. Ask, 'Can you be a member of the ID movement without being a creationist?' I already know the answer they ought to give, because I am.

Bob O'Hara from the University of Helsinki notes that whether ID counts as science depends on your philosophy of science and notes that 'Behe went so far as to suggest that science should be redifined in a way that would include astrology.' But of course, even if one does define science in a way that would have to include the claim that astrology is true as being a scientific theory does not mean that one has to think that astrology is true. Astrology might be a very bad scientific theory, one that is falsified by the evidence. Being scientific doesn't mean being right. Hoyle's steady state universe was a scientific theory, but it was wrong. Having read Professor J.P. Moreland's Christianity and the Nature of Science (Baker) I am satisfied that 'creation science' can be legitimately described as scientific. I just happen to think that it is incorrect.

Peter Risdon's letter simply asserts that ID is 'the state of the art in creationism', something that would no doubt annoy the folk at Answers in Genesis, and suggests that it should be taught, but in religious education (RS) rather than in science because 'it has no place in any scientific forum'. Unfortunately for Mr Risdon, ID already has a place in several scientifc forums, if one cares to count all the debates, conferences and peer reviewed journal articles, not to mention informal scientific discussions, that it has engendered. Of course, he might be suggesting that ID 'isn't science' - a criticism that I have dealt with at length elsewhere.

And now, for the letter of (perhaps qualified) support:

Sir - Prof Meyer's explanation of ID as evidence-based science provides an interesting contrast with many media reports. I cannot help but note that the scientific methodology promoted by figures such as Richard Dawkins cannot handle intelligent agency (beyond human causation). Indeed, it excludes it as a matter of principle. There is a science that accepts only material causes and a science that has material causes plus intelligent agency. Both these science methodologies seem to have metaphysical roots that have religious implications. Intelligent Design challenges the positivist assumptions underpinning much modern science. This issue is not "is ID faith-based?" but "can science be practised with a diversity of metaphysical roots?" - Dr David J. Tyler, Manchester Metropolitan University

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