Intelligent Design as philosophy

The most recent Bloggingheads.tv features Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists, and Paul Nelson, a Creationist and Intelligent Design advocate. The discussion is civil and well-informed, but as noted by some of the commenters on the Bloggingheads.tv site, it isn’t really about science. Rather, it is about philosophy and history of science. Scientists when discussing scientific issues really don’t talk the way that Ronald Numbers & Paul Nelson do in this diavlog. I pointed out years ago that the Intelligent Design movement is qualitatively different from the Creation Science movement, insofar as it is heavily-loaded on philosophers, while old-style Creationists tend to have applied scientists heading their movement (i.e., engineers and medical professionals). In terms of science, where the traditional Young Earth Creationists are simply wrong, the Intelligent Design movement is irrelevant. Where the two movements do come together is their fear that mainstream scientific is fundamentally atheistic, and that atheism will lead to social consequences. This attitude is pithily expressed in the assertion that if you teach people they are animals, they will behave as such. Though methods of the Intelligent Design movement tend to be oblique and exhibit the semantic circumlocutions of philosophy, their ends are concrete and sociopolitical. Contra Dawkins et al. most scientists do not view their project as part of a coherent and intellectually fulfilling worldview. Rather, most science is about describing and predicting fragments of reality, and within the past century mapping those models onto practical and concrete engineering solutions. Ronald Numbers’ defense of methodological naturalism by virtue of its fruits nods to these lived realities of science.

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