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Intelligent Design Creationism Evolves Again

Intelligent Design Creationism Evolves Again

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Intelligent Design Creationism Evolves Again

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  1. Intelligent DesignCreationism Evolves Again Taner Edis Truman State University

  2. Recent History • Religiously motivated anti-evolutionary thought has always accompanied evolution. • Early on, old earth, or even evolution as progressive development was acceptable among many theological conservatives. • Young-earth creationist revival in mid-20C. • Today, “Intelligent Design” creationism is in the news –– Ohio 2002, Missouri 2004. Intelligent Design

  3. Landmark Books –– YEC • Though having an anti-intellectual reputation, the history of creationism can be summarized through landmark books. • Whitcomb & Morris 1961. Revive YEC. Intelligent Design

  4. 1990’s –– ID Begins • 1991: Phillip Johnson, Berkeley law professor. Leading ID spokesman. • Not fundamentalist in tone, looking for broad-based opposition to evolution. • Issue: naturalism. Intelligent Design

  5. “Irreducible complexity” • 1996: Michael Behe, Lehigh biochemist. Leading ID biologist. Catholic. • Accepts common descent––against Darwinian mechanism. • ID movement. Intelligent Design

  6. “Specified complexity” • 1998-now: William Dembski, mathematician and philosopher. Leading theorist of ID. • ID irreducible form of explanation, distinct from chance & necessity. • ID is a revolution. Intelligent Design

  7. Books, books, more books • Dembski has 3 books, 4+ edited books on ID. • Not just biology but physics, AI, theology, morality, law, … • Broad, “information-theoretic” objections to naturalistic evolution. Intelligent Design

  8. Dembski’s filter Intelligent Design

  9. The “Wedge Strategy” • ID politically ambitious. Well-funded. Discovery Institute. “Wedge strategy”––ID dominance by 2019. Many media, popular, and scientific productions foreseen. • ID is involved in battles over evolution in secondary education. • Politically tied to Religious Right. Pre-modern ideals (Forrest & Gross 2003). Intelligent Design

  10. Intellectual Creationism? • YEC too sectarian, too absurd-appearing. • ID downplays age of earth, scripture, even God. It appeals to grand theistic themes; relies on intuition that order comes from intelligent design. Tries for a broad base. • Could appeal beyond scientific community? • Why such a narrow constituency for ID? Why a failure in intellectual life? Intelligent Design

  11. Islamic Creationism • Looking at Muslim world puts ID in perspective. • Outright creationism is popular and successful. Harun Yahya in Turkey. • Obvious design in nature. Intelligent Design

  12. ID & Muslim high culture • Creationism and design in nature still part of Muslim high culture. • Religious intellectuals, especially those into “Islamization of science,” attack Darwinian evolution. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Osman Bakar, Muzaffar Iqbal… • The religious high culture takes an generic ID-like view of nature. Intelligent Design

  13. Grand Themes • ID, Muslim and Western, is not centered on biology for its own sake. It is concerned with the irreducibility of intelligence, of creativity. It defends mind-matter dualism, a hierarchical view of nature. Grand themes of Near Eastern monotheism. • ID no longer implicit in Western intellectual culture. Need to reestablish it. Science! Intelligent Design

  14. War of the theologians • ID attracts many religiously conservative philosophers: Dembski, Plantinga, Meyer, Moreland, Nelson, etc. etc. • Theological liberals notably cold. Few examples of sympathy to ID. • Still, some examples of ID-like themes of information, top-down causality surface among liberals. Intelligent Design

  15. Information from above • Example: John Haught, 2000. God as “the ultimate source of the novel informational patterns available to evolution.” • Also John Polkinghorne, Arthur Peacocke. Intelligent Design

  16. Common concerns • Could ID bridge the conservative-liberal gap in theology? Shared themes about top-down causation, purpose, information, etc. • ID does not necessarily reject all evolution. Common descent ~OK. Guidance and progressivity appeals to liberals. • Some liberals willing to endorse scientific fringe. E.g. parapsychology. Intelligent Design

  17. Never the twain… • But neither side seeks a common ground. • ID debate falls into old creation/evolution pattern: conservative culture warriors against liberals as best allies of science and modernity. • There is a cultural split; the dispute over science is just one point of contention. • Even so, what scientists think is decisive. Intelligent Design

  18. “Here we go again!” • Reaction to ID within scientific community: overwhelmingly dismissive. • ID seen as nothing but old-fashioned creationism revived and given a more intellectual-appearing veneer. • ID attracts attention as a nuisance for education, not as a new idea to debate. • ID’ers need excuses for this rejection. Intelligent Design

  19. Interfering philosophers • Scientists not overly anti-religious. But science has a naturalistic bias? • Robert Pennock: science must follow methodological naturalism (MN). Excludes ID, protects liberal religion. Intelligent Design

  20. Is science naturalistic? • Philosophers dictating what science must be do not have a great track record. • Historically strange: Biologists adopted evolution as better explanation––they didn’t suddenly decide creation was not allowed. • Explanations involving design and intent not odd, e.g. in history. Nothing wrong with ID in biology as a hypothesis. Intelligent Design

  21. Practical naturalism • Philosophical ID supporters attack MN, as illegitimately excluding ID. • They’re right. Politically bad move as well. • Better view: Naturalism has been successful in recent history. The best-supported broad description of the world. We expect this to continue––naturalistic ideas are favored. • ID could succeed in science. But difficult. Intelligent Design

  22. How could ID succeed? • ID’s critics have to learn ID to criticize it effectively. Critics coming over gives boost to new ideas––including Darwinian evolution in its time. • Young Turks might buck establishment. • Scientists would be impressed most by new research driven by ID, which produces results not anticipated by evolutionists. Intelligent Design

  23. What has ID achieved? • Scientific critics aplenty; no converts. • No Young Turks in research. • Plenty of popular outreach, but no scientific production and no increase in respect among scientists––the only glaring failure in the “Wedge Strategy.” • Intellectual output focused on complaints about mainstream science. Intelligent Design

  24. ID: a scientific failure • No crisis in biology. Darwinian mechanism can produce information. “Irreducible complexity” not an issue. • Physicists also have a lot to say about producing complexity, none ID-friendly. • AI, cognitive science full of evolutionary ideas––our own “intelligent designs” are enabled by Darwinian mechanisms. Intelligent Design

  25. More fit If you are not running this on a Macintosh, you may have to skip this slide. Less fit Intelligent Design

  26. No preset goals! • Evolution is not a search for a preset “best solution.” • Genuine creativity can arise from rules and randomness, but again, the lack of a preset goal is crucial (Edis 1998). • Though ID raises occasional interesting questions about complexity, these are largely answered already. Intelligent Design

  27. Where does ID go from here? • ID has made very little headway among intellectual circles. • But the same constituency for old-fashioned creationism also supports ID. • ID movement is likely to continue drawing on this constituency for support. The real battle has always been political. • Keep watching school boards. Intelligent Design

  28. The political motivation • The motivations to push ID are the same as those which drive YEC. • ID proponents themselves argue that evolution is a social disaster. Intelligent Design

  29. ID resources on the web • Discovery Institute: • International Society for Complexity, Information & Design: • Intelligent Design Network (grassroots): • Intelligent Design

  30. ID critics on the web • The National Center for Science Education (your first resource for anything creationism-related): • • Intelligent Design

  31. Shameless plugs • Taner Edis, The Ghost in the Universe (Prometheus 2002). • Matt Young and Taner Edis, eds., Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism (Rutgers University Press 2004). This summer! Intelligent Design

  32. My web site • Contains all sorts of articles on ID, creationism and other topics, including the slides of this talk. • My e-mail is Intelligent Design

  33. In Short Conclusion • ID is intellectually sophisticated creationism. It touches on all our sciences, not just biology. It defends grand themes. • Rejected by scientific community. • Few allies even in wider intellectual culture. • We will keep encountering the ID movement, as part of the culture wars of religious conservatism. Intelligent Design

  34. Thanks for listening! Q&A • Any questions? ? ? ? Intelligent Design