An atheist who favors Intelligent Design?

Over the past few days I’ve followed a slight controversy involving Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe & John McWhorter (you can see the posts at ScienceBlogs, Michael Behe speaks on affair, John McWhorter & Michael Behe, 2 and John McWhorter & Michael Behe In the course of tracking down other weblogs with reactions, I stumbled onto a most interesting individual, speaking from an anthropological perspective, the atheist who speaks in favor of Intelligent Design. Consider the matrix:

  Pro-Intelligent Design Anti-Intelligent Design
Theist William Dembski Ken Miller
Atheist ? Richard Dawkins

I have given examples for three of the classes crossing the variables, but none for one of them. Steve Fuller arguably falls into this rare class of atheist apologists for Intelligent Design, but I judge him to be somewhat equivocal and frankly self-interested (Fuller raised his profile by appearing as a witness for the Dover school district).

Bradley Monton, a philosopher at the University of Colorado at Boulder, fits the bill in a more straightforward manner. He’s written a book: Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design. Monton thinks Intelligent Design is false personally, but seems to believe that there is some fruit to be gained by engaging with the movement. Here is the abstract of a paper, Is Intelligent Design Science? Dissecting the Dover Decision:

In the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Judge Jones ruled that a pro-intelligent design disclaimer cannot be read to public school students. In his decision, he gave demarcation criteria for what counts as science, ruling that intelligent design fails these criteria. I argue that these criteria are flawed, with most of my focus on the criterion of methodological naturalism. The way to refute intelligent design is not by declaring it unscientific, but by showing that the empirical evidence for design is not there.

More of the same to be found at Monton’s weblog, which I offer mostly in the spirit of a guide who introduces his charges to the bizarre rites of a primitive tribe. My own attitude toward the demarcation problem is that it has an easy resolution: what scientists do is science. The opinions of lawyers and philosophers are so much window dressing. Intelligent Design theorists in the natural sciences might consider simply taking over departments at the numerous Christian universities, such as Wheaton, and generating their own original research, instead of battling it out in the public square.

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