Monday, May 29, 2006


Dennett in the Daniel's Den

Atheist philosopher Daniel Dennet, writing in the June edition of BBC's Focus Magazine, opines that:

'Religions have evolved in order to protect themselves. What we see today are the hardiest specimens, which in order to survive have had to change. The ones that have prospered have created an aura around themselves and inspire love in their followers. When you really love someone, you respond dramatically to any sensed threat - nobody gets to even ask questions about my beloved.'

1. The core doctrinal beliefs, attendent attitudes and consequent actions that form Christian spirituality have somehow managed to remain unchanged for coming up for 2000 years. Perhaps this has to do with the religion being anchored to the first and second hand reporting of certain 1st century folk coming to terms with experiences centred upon a Jew from Nazareth.

2. The first followers of that Jewish man asked him a lot of questions, and sometimes contradicted him (Peter), and sometimes refused to believe eye-witness testimony unless they too could have the same eye-witness experience (Thomas). Every since, many people have continued to ask tough questions about Jesus. Some of them have become loving followers as a result. Some of them have gone on to become professional question askers, some called theologians (who ask things like - did Jesus really say that & what did he mean?), other called philosophers of religion (who ask things like, how can a man also be divine? Is it possible to know that someone rose from the dead?).

So it seems to me that Christianity does a fair job of subverting Dennett's description on religion.

Dennett also attempts to psychoanalyse the 'resurgence of religion in some contries', arguing that: 'The main reason is that the high-tech world intimidates people, so they cast about for a sense of their own power in the world.'

Interesting. You'll often hear the atheist claim that people invented belief in God because the natural world intimidated them and they needed to secure a sense of power in the world. But now Dennett thinks that the technology humans have invented to give them power over the natural world so intimidates us that we (i.e. non-atheists) are intimidated and re-invent our belief in God to give us a sense of power in the world. Seems as if people are religious if they lack power and religious if they don't lack power.

Moreover, while religious people might find themselves opposed to doing certain things with technology on moral grounds, that hardly counts as being 'intimidated by technology'. The same Christian who opposed trans-humanism or stem-cell engineering may very well also be the person who designed your laptop or built your i-pod. And what am I doing writing about my religion on the internet? Isn't technology meant to intimidate people like me?

Thursday, May 25, 2006


5th and Final Post on Lawrence M. Krauss

(If you live in Britian you may have seen Dr Krauss on Channel 5 yesterday evening on their Star Trek night. A few years ago Krauss wrote an interesting book on The Physics of Star Trek)

Krauss takes issue with the 'teach the controversy' approach of the Discovery Institute, misrepresenting it as a more rhetorically subtle way to say 'we want ID to be taught in schools', which it is not (cf. Discovery Institute's Science Education Policy). Discovery Institute do not want ID taught in schools - at least not yet. Instead, they want teachers to 'teach the controversy', that is the controversy about evolutionary theory as it appears in the scientific literature. Of course, Krauss denies that any controversy exists, in which case any education establishment that set up a requirement to 'teach the controversy' will obviously have nothing to teach and Krauss can stop worrying!

I agree with Krauss that rather than singling out evolution it would be better to frame all science education with the statement that: 'Students should learn how scientists are continuing to investigate and critically analyze all scientific theories.' Of course, that has the same result with respect to teaching evolution. Hence, in that sence, Krauss aparrently agrees with ID theorists about how evolution should be taught.

Krauss says that: 'Intelligent Design advocates want to skip all the intermediate steps [to textbook science]. They want to take their theory straight into highschool textbooks. And that's not fair.' The thing is, 'ID advocates' is a broad term and some people who would call themselves ID advocates might take this approach; so let's phrase an answer in these terms: Discovery Institute, the main centre of the ID movement, does not advocate skipping steps and taking the theory into highschool textbooks (Of Pandas is a suplimentary text). Discovery Institute advocate 'teaching the controversy' about evolution, but not teaching ID:

'As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort to require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community. Furthermore, most teachers at the present time do not know enough about intelligent design to teach about it accurately and objectively. Instead of mandating intelligent design, Discovery Institute seeks to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks. It believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned. Discovery Institute believes that a curriculum that aims to provide students with an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of neo-Darwinian and chemical evolutionary theories (rather than teaching an alternative theory, such as intelligent design) represents a common ground approach that all reasonable citizens can agree on.' (cf. Discovery Institute's Science Education Policy)

According to Krauss:

'ID is based on the presumptions that science is immoral because it doesn't make reference to God; therefore, evolution is immoral, because it doesn't explicitly mention God either; therefore, evolution must be wrong.'

This is an attack on the presumed motivations of ID theorists, rather than a response to their arguments. This is also an attack which erroniously assumes that all ID theorists believe in God. The terms theorists and theists are rather similar; but they are not the same.

As an ID theorist who is also a theist, I can only put it on the record that I for one do not presume that either science or evolutionary theory is immoral because they don't make reference to God. If I thought that, I'd have to think that Intelligent Design theory is immoral because it doesn't make reference to God!

Krauss relies upon some information from a friend of his who did a search on the key words 'intelligent design' and found 88 articles, of which 3 supported ID but were in conference proceedings and not peer reviewed research journals. Kraus concludes from this that: 'that's the extent of the "controversy" in the scientific literature. There is none.' This conclusion is erronious.

First of all, are we to disregard all scientific writing outside of peer reviewed research journals (like Darwins' Origin), even if they are peer-reviewed (like Dembski's book with Cambridge University Press)?! Secondly, it is not necessarily the case that controversy over evolution comes only from a pro ID position. Third, even pro-ID articles may not mention the words 'intelligent design' (chances of publication are probaly better if they do not). Fourth, explicitly pro-ID articles do exist in peer-reviewed science journals. Consider Meyer's article on the Cambrian Explosion in the Proceedings of the Biological Scoeity of Washington, for example. True, there are very few articles in the peer reviewed literature from an ID position, whether implicit or explicit. The ID movement is quite young and comparatively small, but a steady drip of articles has appeared over the last five years or so, and will continue to appear:

cf. Discovery Institute List of Peer Reviewed Material

Krauss searches with the following results:

evolution = 21,822 hits (most on biological evolution)

Intelligent Design = 635 hits (most on engineering, about 300 on ID, about half critical, hence c. 150 pro ID hits)

I repeated this search on today with the following results:

evolution = 19820 (in 'books', I also found 756 hits under e-books & digital downloads)

Intelligent Design = 769 hits

Either way, the results do show that ID is, as everyone admits, a minority view. But then truth in science isn't decided by majority vote - it is decided by emprical data and strength of argumentation. Every new theory starts out as a minority view.

Finally, having noted that only 50 percent of American adults know that the earth orbits the sun (astonishing!), Krauss asserts: 'The point that seems lost on many people - and the point that ID advocates hope will stay lost - is that the purpose of education is not to validate ignorance; it's to overcome it.'

Well, that's open to interpretation. If Krauss means that the purpose of education is not to validate ignorance but to teach people to engage critically with reality and to compatently search for truth, then I agree. If he means that the purpose of education is not to validate any worldview with which a 21st century materialist disagrees, and/or that the purpose of education is to indoctrinate people into believing what a 21st century materialist believes, then I do not agree. I trust and hope that he means the former and not the latter. In which case, here's one ID advocate who hopes that this point will not be lost on anyone.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


4th Post on Lawrence M. Krauss

Larence M. Krauss complains about the Discovery Institute's "Wedge Stratergy" document, which is still available online @

'The "Wedge Stratergy" criticizes evolution as being scientifically suspect, but moves quickly to a deeper preconception: "The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. This cardinal idea came under wholseale attack, drawing on the discoveries of modern science." So, science is the villain." (p. 37.)

Two points. First, the statment quoted about a belief in the doctrine of creation (not 'creationism') being a cardinal principle of western civilization is in fact true. This is just a statement of fact. Secondly, Krauss fails to notice the words 'drawing on' in the second statement. According to the statement quoted, the villain of the piece is not science - as Krauss interprets it - but the denial of the doctrine of creation implied by the assumption that materialism is true. The villain of the piece is not science at all, but naturalism 'drawing on' the discoveries of modern science.

The trouble, as ID theists see it, is that many scholars assume the truth of naturalism and then define science in such a way that it ceases being a quest for truth impelled by empirical evidence and becomes narrow minded, applied materialist philosophy that cannot even consider the possibility that anything it studies could be the product of any type of intelligence (see previous post!).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


3rd Post on Lawrence M. Krauss

Theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss, wriging in Free Inquiry, quotes from some pro-ID literature from Science Excellence for All Ohioans:

'Science standards use a little-known rule to censor the evidence of design. The rule, which is usually unstated, is often referred to as methodological naturalism.'

Krauss responds:

'We have a different name for it where I come from. It's called the scientific method. Advocates of creationism and Intelligent Design ultimately stand opposed to the scientific method, because the scientific method is based on the assumption that natural effects have natural causes and that human beings can try to understand those causes. Obviously, that's incompatible with their particular theological view of reality - and that is the heart of the problem.'

This is a fascinating response. It is true to say that the assumption that all natural effects have natural causes is incompatible with the theistic theological views of creationists. It is not necessarily true to say this of all ID theorists, since not all ID theorists have a theistic theological view. However, given that theism is incompatible with the assumption that all natural effects have natural causes (the assumption that naturalism is true), what follows? Either that theism is false or that naturalism is false. Krauss is obviously of the opinion that theism is false and that is naturalism true. Many would disagree. Anyone who disagrees with Krauss on this score will of course see 'the problem' as being quite the reverse of the one that Krauss sees as being at 'the heart of the problem'.

Krauss substitutes the lable 'the scientific method' for the lable 'methodological naturalism', but the substitution has a purely rhetorical value, implying that anyone who disagrees with methodological naturalism is thereby disagreeing with Science (with a captial S). Of course, those who disagree with methodological naturalism do not see themselves as disagreeing with Science, but rather with a specific and highly questionable philosophy of science. Note that Krauss does not disagree with the Science Excellence for all Ohioans definition of methodological naturalism. Krauss believes that methodological naturalism is a good rule to follow, and that this rule defines the very essence of Science, 'the scientific method'. He gives no indication of the precarious status of this claim among professional philosophers of science.

However, here is a dilemma for Krauss. What does he mean when he says that the scientific method assumes that 'natural effects have natural causes'? Is this paragraph a natural effect? If not, then Krauss must say that science cannot say anything about the causes of this paragraph. Either nothing can be said about the cause of this paragraph, or something can be said - but by a subject other than science (in which case, scientism is finnished). If, on the other hand, this paragraph is a natural effect, then Krauss has to say that it has a natural cause. Is the obvious fact that this paragraph is the result of intelligent design - in this case the designer is a human (me) - to count as a 'natural' cause? If it is, then clearly 'intelligent design' must count as a scientifically legitimate explanation according to Krauss! If it is not, then Krauss' definition of science means that science is forever barred from knowing the true cause of this paragraph. Science is not, according to this definition, a search for true explanations. Rather, is a search for explanations compatible with a particular interpretation of the 'methodological naturalism' rule!

In several places I have distinguished between hard and soft versions of methodological naturalism. Hard methdological naturalism (HMN) excludes all intelligent causation from scientific explanations - thereby exhiling from science many fields of study currently considered scientific and risking the ceding of epistemological compitency from science to philsoophy. You see, an argument and conclusion can be rational, sound and true without being scientific. Anyone arguing to the contrary would be contradicting themselves! Onthe other hand, soft methodological naturalism (SMN) excludes supernatural causation from science but permits explanation in terms of intelligence. This has none of the obove problems associated with hard methodological naturalism, but of course, this permits ID as well.

What if the best philosophical explanation of intelligent design in the fabric of nature (assuming that such design is detected by reliable criteria) is supernatural (although supernatural does not necessarily equate to divine), and ID is therefore ultimately appealing to a supernatural explanation?

If you think that this means that ID is excluded from science even by 'soft' methodological naturalism, then you have a problem. Given that the argument for ID is sound, we once again face demoting science, ceding epistemological ability to philosophy, and turning science into a subject that isn't concerned with truth. This last issue is of particular concern.

Of course, we could simply ditch 'methodological naturalism' per se, go back to thinking in terms of 'natural philosophy', transfer funds from science to philosophy, and admit that 'science' is an exercise in counterfactual research ('What explanations of the world would be true if the rule of methodological naturalism did not risk subverting the truth seeking function of the quest to understand material reality?').

However, I think the better part of wisdom is to stick with SMN and to use this as an agreed line of demarcation between science and philosophy; holding that even if the best philosophical interpretation of ID is ultimately supernatural, this should not detract from the scientific status of ID, since 'intelligence' is the proximate explanation and this is admissable to science so defined.

Why do this, given that demarcation arguments are out of favour among philosophers of science? Well, I'm not arguing that SMN is a necessary and/or sufficient essential definition of 'Science' with a capatial S. Rather, I'm proposing that there are good epistemological reasons for not accepting HMN and good practical reasons for agreeing to accept SMN.

Accepting SMN allows science to continue as a 'big tent' for people of widely differing worldviews. Rather than theists just doing 'natural philosophy' or 'theistic science', and atheists just doing 'science' (HMN deifnition), we can all co-operate in doing science (SMN definition). SMN allows Platonists and Muslims and Agnostics and Naturalists and Raelians all do science together. SMN does not risk subverting the truth-seeking intent of science. Whether an intelligent cause is supernatural or not (and whether intelligent causes are supernatural by deifnition is a discussion that SMN leaves to philosophers), it is still an intelligent cause and still true to note that it is an intelligent cause, even if we disagree philosophically as to whether or not it is also a supernatural cause. That debate, if we adopt SMN, is left for philosophy.

I agree with Krauss when he writes that 'After all, the essence of open-mindedness is forcing your beliefs to conform to the evidence of observations, not forcing observations to conform to your beliefs.' (p. 38.) The heart of the problem is that by depending upon the 'its not science' response to ID Krauss committs himself to a definition of Science that forces him to make observation conform to his philosophical assumption that all natural effects have natural (i.e. non-intelligent) causes. Only by ditching HMN and either adopting SMN, or by rejecting any form of 'methodological naturalism', is is possible to make science an open-minded search for truth that forces our beliefs to conform to the evidence of observation.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


2nd Post on Lawrence Krauss

In his article 'Science vs. Religion in the ID Debate' (Free Inquiry, April/May 2006) theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss opines:

'What is Intelligent Design anyway? Examined closely; it doesn't amount to much more than simply being opposed to evolution.' (p. 37)

I would surmise from this statement that Krauss hasn't examined ID closely.

First of all, 'evolution' is such an equivocal term that we really should distinguish several senses of the term in order to point out that, for example, ID is not opposed to evolution in the sense of 'change over time'. Nor is ID opposed to evolution in the sense of 'micro-evolution'. Nor is ID opposed to evolution in the sense of 'modification with descent', or to common ancestry. Some design theorists are opposed to the thesis of 'universal common ancestory', but this is not definitive of ID theory per se.

What ID is opposed to is evolution in the sense of 'the blind watchmaker thesis' that the undirected capacities of nature can account for certain facets of physical reality, including certain aspects of biotic reality. The facets in question are those aspects of nature which - it is claimed - exhibit specified (and/or irreducible) complexity. Hence, ID is only opposed to evolution in its grandest, totalizing explanatory sense.

Moreover, ID has application outside the field of biology - for example, ID includes arguments from cosmic and local examples of 'fine tuning' of the sort discussed by cosmologists and astrobiologists. Indeed, ID has application in any scientific field which seeks to make design inferences from empirical evidence.

And this last point shows that Krauss ignores one half of ID in his statement, for ID does not simply mean being opposed to the grander explanatory claims of evolutionary theory - it also means favouring an evidentially motivated appeal to intelligence as the only cause known to be capable of explaining precisely those example of specified and irreducible complexity for which evolution fails to account.

ID means being in favour of evolution when it is an adequate explanation and being in favour of intelligent design when that is the best explanation.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Lawrence M. Krauss on 'the ID debate'

Theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss has an article in the April/May edition of Free Inquiry (magazine of entitled: 'Science vs/ Religion in the ID Dabate'. He begins by talking about the Taliban blowing up a statue of the Buddha in Afganistan in 2001 on religious grounds, and describes this act as 'a clear example of religion attacking science - in this case, archaeology...' He also asserts that the Taliban's actions were motivated by 'fear'. However, describing the Taliban's actions as an attack on science, rather than as an attack on a statue, or an attack on one religious practice (making a statue) by another, seems to me to be tendentious. Is every disaffected Western youth who has thrown a brick through the window of a McDonald's to be described as attacking science - in this case the science of architecture, or of plate-glass manufacture?! Surely they would described their actions as attacking capitalism, or corporatism? My point is not that I agree with the actions of the Taliban or of the anti-capitalism protester who vandalize things that represent, in their minds, institutions and/or practices that are evil. Rather, my point is that for Krauss to describe the actions of the Taliban referenced as an attack on science is to implausibly read his own agenda onto events by ignoring the intention of the actors involved.

Krauss' agenda comes into the picture in his second paragraph, where he tells us that 'Similar collisions between science and religion, based on fear, have taken place in the United States.' He references former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay 'who has, amaizingly, a degree in biology' and who 'once argued that the Columbine school shootings happened "because our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of the primordial mud."' Well, at the risk of joining what Krauss clearly consideres bad company, I suspect that there might be something in Mr DeLay's analysis. However, it should surely be pointed out that Mr DeLay's comment is an attack on a naturalistic philosophical interpretation of evolutionary theory rather than an attack on science. The crucial words in Mr DeLay's comments are 'nothing but'. To attack the scientific theory of evolution Mr DeLay would have had to leave out the words 'nothing but'.

Krauss complains that public policy regarding Intelligent Design (getting its first mention in paragraph three, so that it has some rhetorical context, e.g. 'religion', 'fear', 'collisions between science and religion based on fear') has been defined by people like President George W. Bush who declared 'Both sides ought to be properly taught so people can understand what the debate is about.' Since ID theorists put forward their theory as a scientific theory with no stake in any religious texts, no religious assumptions and no religious conclusions (although many argue for religious implications) - it would seem that the President's words have a certain wisdom to them. Krauss, however, is determined to stick with the 'science vs. religion' story, complaining that Bush's statement: 'represents a clear misunderstanding, because it assumes that there are two "sides" and that there is a debate.' May I call attention to: 1) the existence of Krauss' article, which certainly looks like someone arguing against what they think ID theory is arguing for 2) the title of Krauss' article, which closes with the phrase 'the ID Debate'.

But perhaps Krauss has let rhetoric run away with him. Perhaps he means that the ID side of the debate is very small compared to the opposition (which is true enough). Perhaps he means that the ID side of the debate is not a scientific side, and hence, in this sense, there is no other (scientific) side to the ID debate. Of course, the other side of the debate reckons that it is scientific. There is, then, clearly a debate (with two sides): about whether or not ID is science.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Holy Terror Evolution Man!

Today's education & careers Guardian Newspaper section carries a front page showing William Blake's picture of Newton and the headline: 'Holy terror - Creationism in British classrooms'.

Pages 4-5 is mainly taken up with an article entitled 'Trouble in Paradise' written by Tim Walker, whose main point is that 'The debate over creationism in schools was an American problem. But now the controversy is taking root in Britain.' (You should, by now, have picked up several signs of Mr. Walker's take on this subject.)

Allow me to highlight a few things that caught my attention:

'Creationism encompasses a spectrum of beliefs, from the Bible's account of creation in six days, a matter of mere thousands of years ago, to the more equivocal "intelligent design" (ID) theory, which seeks some form of accomodation with evolution.'

Its good to see a journalist acknowledging that 'creationism' has a wide range of meanings and making a distinction between 'biblical creationism' and ID. ID is indeed a 'big tent' (equivocal rather than univocal) - since it can accomodate atheists, agnostics, and theists of all stripes. However, if any theory is going to be described as seeking some form of accomodation with evolution, it should be theistic evolution (my own former position). Walker seems to imply that ID is concerned to accomodate biblical teachings with evolution - but like evolution, ID has no stake in any scripture or religious viewpoint. Rather, theistic evolutionists are concerned with accomodating evolution and scripture (and I agree with them that the bible is not contradicted by evolutionary theory, talking about 'the Bible's account of creation in six days' as Walker does implies that the creationists have the best interpretation of scripture, something I do not accept) - something that only interests religious ID theorists qua religious people rather than qua ID theorists.

Oddly enough, ID is never mentioned again.

Steve Jone's comments about creationism causing problems for medical students' understanding the way bacteria respond to anti-biotics are simply misinformed. No creationist I know of denies that some form of microevolution is active in the biotic realm. What the doubters of evolution doubt is the huge extrapolation from the observation of a mechanism resulting in small adaptations within a population to a mechanism capable of changing a single cell into a human over a long periods of time. Anyone who takes the time to read Darwin's Origin can see him shifting from 'I cannot see a reason why' this extrapolation may not be true to confidently asserting that it is true and should be given the bennefit of the doubt! This is called an argument from ignorance - a fallacy ID critics love to find in ID (sans attributation, of course, since ID theorists like Behe and Dembski are clear that they do not make an argument from ignorance).

Interesting quote from Sylvia Baker, founder and ex-head of Trinity Christian School, which teaches both evolution and creationism alongside each other. Baker holds two biology degrees, and was taught by noted evolutionist John Maynard Smith: 'While I was there, I stopped being an evolutionist' says Baker, 'You always hear there is overwhealming evidence for evolution, but no one could tell me what it was. There was a refusal to debate it when I tried to. If you couldn't find the evidence in Maynard Smith's department, where could you find it?'

Personally, I advocate the view that education should be 'worldview education', an approach which places a philosophical understanding of worldviews at the heart of the educational process and which equips pupils with critical thinking tools to engage with a variety of viewpoints for themselves.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Watch & Listen On-Line

I've recently been compiling a list of on-line resources which present material on ID which one can watch or to which one can listen. I thought I'd share my collected links with you!

Watch the science documentary Unlocking The Mystery Of Life

Watch the science documentary The Privileged Planet

(But if you want the extras, you'll have to buy the DVD's!)

I highly recommend watching and/or listening to the recent debate between leading ID theorist Stephen C. Meyer and Astrobiologist Peter D. Ward hosted by the Seattle Times (see previous post)

Peter S. Williams & Pete Hearty on Premier Christian Radio: Darwinism vs. ID

ARN Video Page

Discovery Institute Links to TV & Radio

There is also a lot of relevant video material in the apologia project video library from the likes of Michael J. Behe, David Berlinski, Phillip E. Johnson, Dean Kenyon, Robert C. Koons, Scott Minnich, Robert C. Newman & Jonathan Wells @

I particularly enjoyed the lecture by Koons and the interview with Berlinski...

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Stephen C. Meyer & Peter D. Ward Discuss ID

I highly recommend watching and/or listening to the recent debate between leading ID theorist Stephen C. Meyer and Astrobiologist Peter D. Ward hosted by the Seattle Times.

My analysis, Ward attacked a straw man version of ID and failed to seriously interact with Meyer's arguments - but judge for yourself!

Professor Peter D. Ward is co-author of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon In The Universe (Copernicus, 2000) - a book with many resemblances to The Privilaged Planet by ID theorists Guillermo Gonzalez & Jay W. Richards (Regnery, 2004) - in which Ward and co-author Donald Brownlee write: 'If some god-like being could be given the opportunity to plan a sequence of events with the express goal of duplicating our "Garden of Eden," that power would face a formidable task. With the best intentions, but limited by natural laws and materials, it is unlikely that Earth could ever be truly replicated.' (p. 37.)

By the way, you can watch the documentry video of Privilaged Planet on-line for free:
The Privileged Planet or here

Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, who completed his PhD at Cambridge University, is co-author of Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe (Ignatius, 1999) and contributing co-editor of Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2003). Meyer is the author of one of those peer reviewed journal articles that Judge Jones of the Dover trail said do not exist: 'The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories', PROCEEDINGS OF THE BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON 117(2): 213-239 (2004). See Dr. Meyer's work on-line here at and here at Discovery Institute's CSC.

In the course of the debate Meyer mentions the Discovery Institute's list of peer reviewed work supporting ID, the Dissent From Darwinism list, and refers to some pictures of molecular machinery that the audience have been given (so here's a link to arn's examples of irreducibly complex celular machinery).

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Alain De Botton and Objective Beauty

I was interested to come accross a little article in The Observer (23.04.06) about media friendly philosopher Alain De Botton putting the wind up 'house designers and developers by branding their work second-rate'.

Botton delivered a lecture at the Royal Institute of Architecture on 'The Question of Beauty in Architecture', arguing that archietects are 'neglecting the need to design beautiful buildings'. Botton told The Observer: 'The silence about beauty has allowed property developers to come in and say, "Ah well, don;t tell us our buildings are ugly, because who are you to say? Maybe you're a snob, or maybe that's just your own view".' In other words, De Botton seems to be saying that builders are using a subjective view of beauty to reject any criticism of their work. If you think their houses are ugly, that's just your subjective point of view. In which case, it would seem that in attacking this move, De Botton must be defending an objective theory of beauty. Unfortunately, his next reported comment to The Osberver seems to buy into a subjective view of beauty: "But he said a public consensus was now forming about what makes good or bad housing. 'Lots of people basically agree that windows are too small on the current generation of Barratt homes. That's not a mystery, that's not a subjective point of view - you could almost make it into a science...'" Here De Botton seems to tie his critique to whether or not enough people can agree with each other about what they like, and appears to reveal that his paradigm of objectivity is narrowly scientific. If beauty is objective, then it is what it is irrespective of human agreement; although human agreement might be a good indicator of what the objective truth of any given aesthetic question might be.

For a defence and exploration of the objectivity of beauty cf:

Thomas Dubay, The Evidential Power of Beauty, (Ignatius, 1999)

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, (Fount), 'Men Without Chests' @

Peter S. Williams, 'A Theistic Account of Aesthetic Value' @ (My first article on beauty, written during my MPhil at UEA)

Peter S. Williams, 'Intelligent Design, Aesthetics and Design Arguments' @ (an article published by ISCID)

Peter S. Williams, 'Aesthetic Arguments for the Existence of God' @ (An article published by Quodlibet Journal)

Peter S. Williams, I Wish I Could Believe In Meaning: A Response to Nihilism, (Damaris, 2004)

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