Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nagel on the idea that ID is science

The denier that ID [intelligent design] is science faces the following dilemma. Either he admits that the intervention of such a designer is possible, or he does not. If he does not, he must explain why that belief is more scientific than the belief that a designer is possible. If on the other hand he believes that a designer is possible, then he can argue that the evidence is overwhelmingly against the actions of such a designer, but he cannot say that someone who offers evidence on the other side is doing something of a fundamentally different kind. All he can say about that person is that he is scientifically mistaken.”
Thomas Nagel


John Moore said...

Being "scientifically mistaken" is fine as long as you don't keep doing the same mistake over and over.

ID is unscientific because its advocates refuse to see or understand the clear evolutionary explanation for things ID says couldn't possibly have evolved.

Same with alchemy. It wasn't unscientific in the 1400s, but it is now. Creationism may have been science back in the 1840s, but it isn't now.

Victor Reppert said...

It seems to me that a different criticism of ID is on more solid ground, namely, that ID (or at least certain ways of arguing for ID), claim prematurely that no evolutionary pathway could be found when in fact we haven't looked hard enough to find it. But what if we keep looking and still no evolutionary account if forthcoming?

John Moore said...

Evolution isn't meant to explain absolutely everything. Some things just happened by chance.

If someone claims no evolutionary pathway is possible, they must demonstrate why it's impossible. Simple lack of seeing isn't an argument, even if you look forever.

Bob said...

Nagel's argument works equally well for Astrology and witchcraft.

Must be correct...

Papalinton said...

I'm not sure why Dr Reppert persists in trotting out Nagel to defend Creationism. To be sure Nagel is a philosopher with a particular bent for asserting that humans could not have evolved on the basis of (1) personal incredulity, and (2) not enough time for humans to have evolved. And how religionists just love to trot out this trope on a regular basis.

Jason Rosenhouse, American author and associate professor of mathematics at James Madison University, provides an interesting overview of Nagel's take through reviewing the various articles by disgruntled Nagel defenders. Can be read HERE

Commenter John Moore has it right. " Creationism {ID] may have been science back in the 1840s, but it isn't now."

Greg said...

Nagel's point is that if ID is scientifically wrong, then argue this instead of rejecting its claims a priori. Being an incorrect theory is reason enough for something to be dismissed; the evolutionist which has successfully shown ID to be empirically unjustified doesn't now need to mock it as "religion" or "superstition."

The reason alchemy or astrology shouldn't be taught is because they've been falsified through scientific means. But if they've been falsified this way, then at some level they are scientific propositions that could have turned out to be true. If ID is rejected before its investigated, then how can we know if it is true or not?

Papalinton said...

Picking up in Rosenhouse's article is this REVIEW of Nagel's latest book by reviewer Orr.

It puts a context around which Nagel's assertion is assessed.

Victor Reppert said...

For various reasons, ID is NOT creationism. The conclusions of their arguments are never to a creator. The people who support ID may believe, on grounds independent of ID arguments, that the Designer is the creator, but they invariably refrain from saying that their arguments.

Papalinton said...

"For various reasons, ID is NOT creationism."

It's history says otherwise. At the Kitzmiller vs Dover trial, it was demonstrated without exception that ID arose from the very same words that originally described creationism. Indeed the whole descriptive nature of the definition of ID was shown to have been directly lifted [verbatim] from the earlier definition of creationism. The concept was the same, only the names were changed.

"In the legal case Kitzmiller v. Dover, tried in 2005 in a Harrisburg, PA, Federal District Court, "intelligent design" was found to be a form of creationism, and therefore, unconstitutional to teach in American public schools.
As the first case to test a school district policy requiring the teaching of "intelligent design," the trial attracted national and international attention. Both plaintiffs and defendants in the case presented expert testimony over six weeks from September 26 through November 4, 2005). On December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones issued a sharply-worded ruling in which he held that "intelligent design" was, as the plaintiffs argued, a form of creationism."

Interestingly, "The word charts from Barbara Forrest's testimony that show replacement of word "creation" with "intelligent design" after the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard decision"

Papalinton said...

What's most interesting, Victor, is the transitional 'fossil record' of the transmogrification of creationism into Intelligent Design. See HERE:

Creation Biology (1983), to
Biology and Creation (1986), to
Biology and Origins (1987), to
Of Pandas and People (1987, creationist version), to
Of Pandas and People (1987, “intelligent design” version).

What were your various reasons again about why Creationism is NOT ID?

Victor Reppert said...

I don't think that court case was rightly decided, or at least not for the reasons that was given in the decision. If "the court said it, I believe it, that settles it" was a good argument form, then we could establish that black slaves are really the property of their owners because Dred Scott v. Sandford said that they were.

But now we get to something I really don't get. Edwards v. Aguillard said that you couldn't teach creationism in public school, since this made reference to the doctrines of a specific religion.

The Supreme Court said

The Supreme Court held that the Act is facially invalid as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, because it lacks a clear secular purpose (first test of the above Lemon test), since (a)the Act does not further its stated secular purpose of "protecting academic freedom." and (b) the Act impermissibly endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind.

They also said:

We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. . . . Teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.

Now, suppose someone took what was originally a creationist textbook, used all the same arguments, but deleted the implication that a supernatural being was responsible. This is some dastardly subterfuge?

Suppose in fact the people who were developing this were actually creationists, and even young earth creationists. Suppose, further, they hoped that by making the case for a designer, they hoped that they could support religious belief. Couldn't they still say that they were doing what the court says was allowable.

If the court says "You can't do A, but you can do B," you are still doing B and not A even if you wanted to do A, or even if people concluding A was what you hope they would do if you do B, the fact is you ARE doing B and not A.

So they changed the words of the book to satisfy the ruling. Isn't that what you're supposed to do???

Besides it is just plain false to say that advocates of ID are advocates of creationism, if creationism is meant to be something like YEC and flood geology. Behe, for example, affirms common ancestry, something that is an absolute no-no amongst creationists, who will label you an evolutionist if you accept it.

B. Prokop said...

One of the greatest scientists of the 20th Century, Sir Fred Hoyle, had this to say about design:

“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”