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Atheists Against Darwinism - Page 9

ID isn't Theistic Science

According to Nagel:

the campaign of the scientific establishment to rule out intelligent design as  beyond discussion because it is not science results in the avoidance of significant  questions about the relation between evolutionary theory and religious belief,  questions that must be faced in order to understand the theory and evaluate the  scientific evidence for it.[71]

Nagel reckons: "evolutionary theory as a complete explanation of the development of life is more plausible to someone who does not believe in God than to someone who does."[72] In more general terms he explains: "the empirical evidence may suggest different conclusions depending on what religious belief one starts with. . . the evidence does not by itself settle which of those beliefs is correct. . ."[73]

Nevertheless, Nagel acknowledge that "ID is very different from creation science"[74] and that "there is a distinction between the arguments for intelligent design in biology and the traditional argument from design for the existence of God."[75] Indeed, ID simply claims that:

intelligent agency, as an aspect of scientific theory making, has more explanatory power in accounting for the specified, and sometimes irreducible complexity of some physical systems, including biological entities, and/or the existence of the universe as a whole, than the blind forces of . . . matter.[76]

As such, ID is compatible with "all those teleological views that allow for the empirical detection of real design."[77] Such views include, but aren't limited to, theism. As Behe comments:

my argument is limited to design itself; I strongly emphasize that it is not an argument for the existence of a benevolent God . . . I myself do believe in a benevolent God, and I recognize that philosophy and theology may be able to extend the argument. But a scientific argument for design in biology does not reach that far. . .[78]

Nagel uncharitably ignores Monton's recommendation "that. . . we simply take proponents of ID at their word that the doctrine they are endorsing. . . is not inherently theistic."[79] In discussing "the relation between evolutionary theory and the despised alternative,"[80] Nagel asserts:

For legal reasons that alternative is called intelligent design, with no implication that the designer is God, but I shall assume that we are talking about some form of divine purpose or divine intervention. Nevertheless, there is a distinction between the arguments for intelligent design in biology and the traditional argument from design for the existence of God. ID . . . is best interpreted not as an argument for the existence of God, but as a claim about what it is reasonable to believe about biological evolution if one independently holds a belief in God that is consistent both with the empirical facts about nature that have been established by observation, and with the acceptance  of general standards of scientific evidence. For legal reasons it is not presented that way by its defenders. . .[81]

Nagel interprets ID as an exercise in what Plantinga calls "theistic science"[82] (albeit one that has tendentiously branded itself for legal reasons[83]). However, as Stephen C. Meyer explains, this is incorrect:

According to a spate of recent media reports . . . intelligent design is just biblical creationism repackaged by religious fundamentalists in order to circumvent a 1987 United States Supreme Court prohibition against teaching creationism in the U.S. public schools . . . newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets in the United States and around the world have repeated this trope. But is it accurate? As one of the architects of the theory of intelligent design . . . I know that it isn't. The modern theory of intelligent design was . . . first proposed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by a group of scientists, Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley and Roger Olson, who were trying to account for an enduring mystery of modern biology: the origin of the digital information en-coded along the spine of the DNA molecule. Thaxton and his colleagues came to the conclusion that the information-bearing properties of DNA provided strong evidence of a prior but unspecified designing intelligence. They wrote a book proposing this idea in 1984 . . . Contemporary scientific interest in the design hypothesis not only predates the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against creationism, but the . . . theory of intelligent design, unlike creationism . . . is an inference from empirical evidence, not a deduction from religious authority.[84]


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