Science: May 2005 Archives

David Velleman has a nice, balanced post up about ID and schools. I don't quite agree with everything, but he's close to being right on everything. My first comment makes my views clear enough, as if my post here didn't already do so. There is a little more in that comment than I said in the post, though, and this is more succinct, so I'm reproducing that comment here for posterity along with a second comment clarifying some elements of evolutionary theory that are philosophical arguments:

Prosthesis has put into words what I've been trying unsuccessfully to say for quite a while now. Intelligent Design is technically philosophy and not science, but it's no as simple as that. It's the most recent form of the teleological argument for the existence of God, in the tradition that began at least as far back as Aristotle, something like 2500 years ago. For him, of course, it was natural philosophy, which has become the science of today, so it's not as if it's outside the realm of what we now call science, but that argument has remained in philosophy as most other subject matters of Aristotle's natural philosophy have become known as science.

Intelligent Design is certainly not religion. That's evidenced by the people who support it who do not believe in any religion. Antony Flew is just the latest and most famous proponent of ID not to accept any religion as a result of it (or even many of the traditional attributes of God). Michael Denton was saying similar things in the 1980s. He's an atheist, and he thinks some sort of argument along the lines ID people give is correct against the standard neo-Darwinian picture (though he accepts large parts of it, as do most IDers). It's true that most ID people are Christians, but that doesn't mean it's religion, either in principle or even for those Christians who accept it. It's a philosophical argument that many Christians accept, and they accept it because they think it's a good argument, not because it occurs in the Bible.

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