Hi folks. You've come to expect not-always-balanced commentary on this blog, right? Well, here's some more. Balanced? You tell me!
120 Iowa State professors have signed a letter denouncing "intelligent design theory." (Article in the Chronicle) Given the opportunity, I'm not sure I would have signed this letter. While I agree with the letter in that I believe that the logic behind ID is, on the whole, unscientific, here's where the letter's problem lies: Suppose that a scientist decides that he or she likes the idea of intelligent design, and wants to try to find scientific evidence for supernatural influence in the world. It has not been scientifically determined that God's influence in the world is unverifiable. It stands to reason, then, that this could be a reasonable avenue for scientific study. (Notice I highlight the word "scientific" here. It is just as tragic that so many Americans have no understanding of science and logic as it is that so many Americans are mathematically illiterate. I refer you again to the book citation I posted back in June.) Methodological naturalism seems to be a worthy ideal within scientific research, and I support it. The letter, however, is disappointingly vague in its position with regard to how methodological naturalism relates to highly speculative scientific theory (such as cosmology). The view of MN presented in the letter thus seems too narrow and too categorical. When thinking about this letter, I keep asking myself "Isn't science a way to address the biggest questions of humanity?" And for me the last sentence in the article sealed its fate: "We, therefore, urge all faculty members to ... reject efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science." I'm not sure what they mean by "reject" here. I don't think there's any reason to try to stomp all over anyone else's views on this matter, especially since the issue involves religion in a significant way. Further, Professor Gonzalez's reaction to the letter is ridiculous. He comes off as unwilling to engage in diologue regarding the issues of the relationship between religion and science, and also the nature, place, and scope of scientific research. Do opponents of ID not have a right to express their own arguments? Can we perhaps separate the issue of the theory of evolution from the political agenda that underlies the debate on both sides? I think many people weighing in on the issue of evolution vs. intelligent design truly have no idea that they are actually arguing about the separation of religion and education (simply because they don't know enough about the scientific evidence for and against the scientific theory of evolution). And I'm a firm believer in the teaching of religion in schools—not to be confused with religious indoctrination by the schools. This is a complex issue! Maybe the Noodly-Appendaged One can guide us. Arr!
Okay. That's my rant for the week. See ya next time!