Friday, December 23, 2005

A key clarification in the ID debate

I think it's important to note that the Dover school board went far beyond even what the Discovery Institute was prepared to advocate. In other words, they got greedy.

Ok IDers. Indicate some areas of scientific research you would like to explore, make some predictions about what we should expect to find if you are right, and then we'll see if the results match your expectations. As I see it, if you do that, you're doing science, regardless of your ontological commitments.

2 comments:

amstar said...

Victor,

I'm with you 100%. The only thing I'd add is the need for some type of external validation. If not peer review, than something else that will ensure the integrity of the work. We need only look to what is going on over in South Korea to see what happens in the absence of proper oversight.

Blue Devil Knight said...

To have any force, the predictions need to be in sharp contrast with what you would predict in an evolutionary scenario. This is often the creationist's sticking point, as their understanding of evolution is so anemic that they end up with straw predictions of evolutionary biology.

The problem for creationists is that they are trying to overthrow one of the most important principles in science, methodological naturalism, with really bad arguments. Not only will that not work, but (at the risk of being repetitive) they will need to generate predictions that are very suprising for anyone steeped in the science of biology (think Einstein or Bohr levels of surprisingness). Scratching one's head and saying, "Gee, ma, I can't see how a flagellum could have evolved: look at all them parts!" will not do, and that is pretty much Dembski and Behe in a nutshell. It ain't gonna cut it. Without something better, they will justifiably remain in the intellectual backwater. If Behe and Dembski are the best they've got, and they are, then the only explanation for their popularity I can imagine is that they are tapping into some religious need, because the arguments are transparently specious (especially Dembski, who would have cavemen applying the explanatory filter to explain lightning via design).

Incidentally, for a quick overview of some developments in evolutionary biology in 2005, see this brief review in Science. It has lots of useful references at the end on studies of speciation that have come out in the last year.

Hope everyone has a nice winter break! Great job with the blog this year, Victor: I esteem it as the ideal civil and informative blog. You have maintained respectful and respectable discussions without having to moderate with a large stick (like some, perhaps more maverick philosophers, might do). I think this speaks to the civil and content-focused tone which you consistently maintain. Great work.