Episode 017: Intelligent Design

Philosophy podcast science

This episode is about Intelligent Design – sort of. I don’t argue here for intelligent design. What I’m doing is looking at a couple of philosophical objections to ID which, I argue, are just contrived for no other purpose than to exclude intelligent design from “science.”


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{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Kenny September 30, 2008, 11:44 am

    “Scientists know your place.” Amen and Amen. I get tired of people with degrees in biology and physics thinking that makes them experts on all manner of issues pertaining to religion and philosophy. In my experience most scientists turn out to be lousy philosophers, even when it comes to philosophy of science.

  • Mike October 1, 2008, 6:57 am

    Hey!! I resent those comments!! : P lol

  • Glenn October 1, 2008, 9:32 am

    I wouldn’t worry Mike. 😉 My problem isn’t with people who are scientists also being philosophers. My problem is that people who seem to believe that their scientific background *makes* them qualified to make big philosophical pontifications on everything.

  • Mike October 2, 2008, 4:57 am

    I think the problem with the bridge between science and philosophy is ignorance. A lot of scientists (not me) think that philosophy is basically meaningless word games and thought experiments. The biologists realizes that he can also play word games and think so why should he not be able to make philosophical pontifications.

    I hate to bring up the D word but take a look a Dawkins. He seems to have a cartoonish view of philosophy so he feels that he can be just as good a philosopher as the next guy. This leads to real philosophers saying things like….I would categorize the God Delusion as sophomoric philosophy but that would be an insult to sophomores (I love Plantinga.) Also look at Dennett (aka “Dawkins Lapdog” as Stephen Jay Gould called him) who, IMHO novice opinion, follows down the reductionist path to the point of absurdity and seemingly doesn’t even recognize when is he obviously begging the question. What is his excuse? He is actually trained as a philosopher. Again to paraphrase Plantinga, If Dennet’s arguments are so ingenious and obviously correct, then why have they seem to have been missed by nearly everyone in the field.

  • Rob October 5, 2008, 10:28 am

    The host quotes someone who says this:

    “No theory is acceptable unless it is naturalistic.”

    The host is correct to criticize that. Whoever said that is just wrong. Most scientists are not good philosophers of science, but they can still be good scientists.

    Naturalism is not an a priori dogma of science, rather it is an a posteriori conclusion. And that conclusion is of course provisional, as are all conclusions of science.

    Natural explanations have been so successful and useful that few scientists these days would even look for supernatural explanations, because they think it would be an inpractical use of time. Methodological naturalism has been overwhelmingly fruitful, so scientists tend to stick with what works.

    But the common use of methodological naturalism does not restrict science to philosophical naturalism, nor should it. That would be unscientific.

    So, ID is rejected not because it is super-naturalistic, but rather because it is currently bad science. If the ID guys would do some research and produce a useful and testable theory, then all the worse for naturalism.

  • Glenn October 5, 2008, 1:58 pm

    Hey Rob – in fact some DO reject ID because it is not naturalistic. I quoted somebody who did just that: Reject ID at least partly because it isn’t naturalistic. Also, naturalism is not an a posteriori conclusion of “science” – just in case you mean that (I’m not sure). It’s a belief of some scientists: For some it is an a priori assumption, and for some it is … well, not a posteriori in the sense that their scientific work showed them that naturalism is true. It’s just a belief that they have gained somehow.

  • Rob October 5, 2008, 6:02 pm

    Hi Glenn,

    “in fact some DO reject ID because it is not naturalistic. I quoted somebody who did just that”

    Yes I know. I quoted it in my comment. That person was wrong.

    I don’t wish to get bogged down in in a definitional dispute, so we should both be clear with our language. By philosophical naturalism I mean a philosophical position that there is no supernatural realm or beings. By methodological naturalism I mean the common scientific practice of seeking natural explanations to explain phenomena.

    Most scientists adhere to methodological naturalism, regardless of whether or not they buy-in to philosophical naturalism. This is for pragmatic reasons. Since no empirically verifiable supernatural explanation has ever born fruit, most scientists do not seek supernatural explanations. Rather, they practice methodological naturalism, which has been fantastically successful. This conversation is made possible because of a byproduct of methodological naturalism.

    I think those scientists that do buy-in to philosophical naturalism frequently do so based on their scientific work. I’m sure there are other influences as well.

    You wrote:

    “not a posteriori in the sense that their scientific work showed them that naturalism is true.”

    I found that kind of a strange thing to say. The scientific method will never tell us whether something is “True”. All findings of science are by definition provisional.

    “It’s just a belief that they have gained somehow.”

    I think the somehow is through experience. Hence a posteriori.

  • Glenn October 5, 2008, 10:01 pm

    Hi Rob. I don’t quite understand why you think “true” is a strange term, preferring instead “provisional.” Scientific conclusions are provisional conclusions about what is true, right?

    I took you to be saying earlier that philosophical naturalism is an a posteriori conclusion of science. You now seem to be saying something much smaller: That some individual scientists have come to accept philosophical naturalism. You say they formed this belief through experience, but I’d want to probe that, as I’m inclined to doubt it. What type of experience did you have in mind?

  • Rob October 5, 2008, 11:49 pm

    “Scientific conclusions are provisional conclusions about what is true, right?”

    Yes. It is almost certainly true that dogs and humans share a common ancestor, for instance. But, some evidence could prove otherwise.

    My earlier statement about “science” coming to a conclusion was clumsy. Scientists reach conclusions using methods called science. One of these conclusions is that methodological naturalism is a practical assumption to make. For example, if a new disease appears among humans, it would probably be a waste of time researching witchcraft or demon possession. Looking for a more mundane natural cause will likely be more fruitful.

    So now switching to philosophical naturalism.

    Some people claim there exists supernatural things such as ghosts, dragons, fairies, telekinesis, voodoo curses, gods, ouji boards, mind reading, karma, dowsing, chi, reincarnation – you know the laundry list. There is little if any evidence that any of those beings or forces exist, which leads people to conclude that no things of that sort are real. So by the experience of only encountering natural things, people conclude that supernatural things are imaginary.

    Attempts have been made to verify some of this stuff. Acupuncture is supposed to work via a mystical force called chi, but the well controlled acupuncture studies are negative. Ouji boards have been thoroughly debunked. A recent intercessory prayer study failed. 100 years of Psi research has been nothing but a boondoggle. Fairy reports turn out to be mischievous hoaxes. Ghost photos and videos are inevitably discovered to be bugs on the lens or dust motes illuminated by the flash. Ghost hunters find ghostly energy with pseudo-scientific equipment, until you cut the power so no more EM radiation comes from the wiring in the walls. Faith healers are exposed as frauds using sensitive radio equipment. Gurus like the Indian God-Man Sathya Sai Baba are found to be slight of hand hucksters. Despite hundred of attempts by psychics and mind readers, James Randi’s million dollars awaits anyone with magical powers. Astrologers perform no better than chance. Dowsing has been dis-proven again and again.

    So eventually a pattern emerges and one wonders, when is enough enough? So based on accumulated shared experience, some scientists conclude that supernatural beings or forces are imaginary.

    I’m not sure that “supernatural” actually has a coherent usage, but I don’t know what other word to use.

  • Glenn October 6, 2008, 11:14 pm

    Rob, I think that by grouping religious beliefs in with belief in non-supernatural things like dragons, fairies, ghosts, and so forth, what you’re doing is simply grouping it in with things that are widely believed to be false. It has nothing to do with whether or not they are natural, and methodological naturalism has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    Whether you see ID this way or not, proponents of ID have presented what they take to be an argument that draws on natural premises and leads to a conclusion that challenges philosophical naturalism. It does no good trying to characterise them as being opposed to the scientific method, or being opposed to using natural data alone. This is precisely what they have sought to do. Your laundry list of gurus and so forth is merely well-poisoning.

    By all means disagree with them. But what I see is merely rhetorical shortcuts. It’s a bit like the guy my original post critiqued, as I see it.

  • Rob October 7, 2008, 3:54 am

    You asked me a question about what type of experience would incline someone toward philosophical naturalism, and I gave you an answer.

    I also gave you a reason why scientists by and large use methodological naturalism.
    If you wish to carve out religious belief from my list, fine. I don’t see the distinction.

    I made my views on ID clear, I will repeat:

    ID is rejected not because it is super-naturalistic, but rather because it is currently bad science. If the ID guys would do some research and produce a useful and testable theory, then all the worse for naturalism.

  • Glenn October 7, 2008, 4:01 pm

    Rob, earlier you agreed that ID is rejected because it is supernaturalistic, and you said that the person I critiqued was wrong to reject ID this way. yet now again you say that “ID is rejected not because it is super-naturalistic.” It would be better for the public image of science if this were true, but as we’ve seen, this is not the case. As I said, I have no problem with people who reject ID on other grounds and are happy to debate its premises, but it’s no good saying that the bias isn’t real and that ID is not rejected because it isn’t naturalistic. It shouldn’t be rejected this way, but we all see that it is.

  • Rob October 7, 2008, 6:14 pm

    OK, I see. Yes some people do reject it for that reason. I do not.

    I must say I was somewhat startled when you said, concerning philosophical naturalism, “You say they formed this belief through experience, but I’d want to probe that, as I’m inclined to doubt it.”

    Is it not the case, in your experience, that our beliefs are formed through experience? I am not talking about instinctive beliefs like the reliability of our senses, but rather political or religious or philosophical beliefs.

    If not experience, then what?

  • Glenn October 9, 2008, 10:54 pm

    No need to be startled. When someone on the internet says that people out there actually have experiences that lead them to the belief that philosophical naturalism is true, I just wonder how many people they’ve really asked. Looking bac over my previous comments, I’d actually want to remove my concession that philosophical naturalism isn’t an a priori belief. For many people who aren’t thesists, it’s not, but many of these people are merely agnostic, not committing one way or the other. If we construe a posteriori beliefs as beliefs arising from evidence, experience, or observation of the world, I’m confident in saying that for people who say that philosophical naturalism is true (i.e. they take a position and are not merely agnostic), the belief is not a posteriori.

    In answer to your question: No, not all beliefs are held on the basis of experience (i.e. evidence, experience, or observation of the world). Otherwise there would be no such things as a priori beliefs. That’s not to say that people don’t hold them because of experiences they have had, of course. People can have experiences that lead them to make a priori assumptions, as I’m sure we’d all agree (for example, a person who had a bad experience with the church could form a bias and start assuming a priori that there’s no God). it is my experience that the majority of people who affirm that philosophical naturalism is true did not form that belief via belief forming evidence, experience, or observation of the world. If you ask “then what” then I think the possible answers are many: the desire to justify their sense of moral autonomy, their desire to feel like they have outgrown superstition and as though they are being intellectually mature, if you believe the Bible (and clearly you do not), because of their sinful rebellion against their creator, and so forth. There are plenty of possible things that can skew a person’s perspective so that the make a priori assumptions without good grounds for doing so.

    I’m sure that there are people who think that evidence, experience, or observation of the world justifies their belief that metaphysical naturalism is true. This is, of course, very different from actually forming that belief on the basis of experience.

  • Rob October 10, 2008, 7:19 am

    Communication breakdown. You wrote:

    “People can have experiences that lead them to make a priori assumptions”

    If a person has an experience that leads to a certain assumption, that assumption is by definition a posteriori.

  • Glenn October 10, 2008, 8:10 am

    No, that’s not correct. The fact that somebody has a reason for making an assumption does not mean that the assumption is necessarily an a posteriori one. Experiences can change a person’s outlook in such a way that they begin to make a priori assumptions. I’d say this is fairly common. It all depends on why the assumption comes to be held. If it is inferred from that experience, then yes it is a posteriori. But the fact that it is caused by the experience does not mean that it is inferred from the experience.

  • Rob October 10, 2008, 11:07 am

    Metaphysical Naturalism is inferred by 5 centuries of accumulated scientific experience.

  • Rob October 10, 2008, 5:20 pm

    This is a statement from The Center for Naturalism:

    we should stick with science, in partnership with philosophy, as the arbiter of what fundamentally exists. Since it isn’t a worldview, science itself doesn’t make any metaphysical claims, and it certainly doesn’t presume naturalism, as advocates of teaching intelligent design sometimes argue. Rather, science is a method of inquiry that gives us generally reliable beliefs about the world. If you want reliable beliefs, then you should make the commitment to science and have little or no truck with faith, intuition, revelation and authority as grounds for belief. The commitment to science, therefore, is not a matter of faith, as is sometimes claimed by anti-naturalists (trying to tar naturalism with their own brush), but of acting rationally to fulfill the commendable desire for secure knowledge. Finally, if you make this commitment, then you’ll be led to metaphysical naturalism, the idea that only the natural world exists.

    So, this organization agrees with me. Science leads people to naturalism.

  • Glenn October 11, 2008, 12:19 pm

    Rob, in short: Why am I not surprised that the “Center for Naturalism” agrees with your belief that metaphysical naturalism follows from science? I wonder what the Catholic church thinks? I think it’s a very safe bet that we can find organisations who hold conflicting perspectives on this. The statement you quoted is mere naked prejudice.

  • Rob October 11, 2008, 3:11 pm

    My point is only that people who are naturalists come to that philosophy through experience. I realize that people disagree with naturalism. I was just taking issue with your assertion that science does not lead some people to naturalism. All the naturalists I know arrive at that philosophy a posteriori.

    “The statement you quoted is mere naked prejudice.”

    Oh really? Who is in a better position to say why they are naturalists than a bunch of naturalists?

  • Glenn October 11, 2008, 5:41 pm

    Rob, the fact that people say that they reach a conclusion a certain way does not mean that this is in fact the way they reached it. I think it’s a safe bet that most people who hold a bias will rationalise that bias by saying that it’s a justified belief.

    And if you doubt that the statement is mere naked prejudice, just look at it again: It makes the assertion that faith, revelation and intuition are no way to arrive at truth. In one fell swoop of the pen / keyboard it dismisses ALL religious claims as ipso facto false, and discards philosophical intuitionism as well. The naivety of that organisation in doing this is breathtaking.

    THAT is the prejudice I was talking about. It’s like saying “I am a naturalist because everything else is bunk.”

  • Rob October 11, 2008, 7:56 pm

    “the fact that people say that they reach a conclusion a certain way does not mean that this is in fact the way they reached it.”

    This is true. Religious people almost always adopt the religion of their parents. Yet later the Mormon or Muslim or baptist will all assert other reasons for their belief.

    I’m confident saying that naturalists almost never have naturalists as parents. Experience leads them to naturalism.

    “It makes the assertion that faith, revelation and intuition are no way to arrive at truth . . .
    THAT is the prejudice I was talking about. It’s like saying “I am a naturalist because everything else is bunk.””

    That intuition, revelation, and faith are unreliable methods for acquiring knowledge is apparent from history. We have thousands of religions all claiming the Truth.

    It is not prejudice to reject those primitive methods, rather a reasonable response to the evidence.

    Everything else IS bunk when compared to science.

    When your child is sick, do you seek out a faith healer or some new age intuitionist? When the chips are down, you place your trust in modern science like most everyone else.

    I am a naturalist because, based on my experience, science is an amazingly successful epistemic method. Not perfect, but certainly better than “other ways of knowing” which all fail miserably.

  • Rob October 11, 2008, 8:27 pm



    Have you ever read a science book?

    Almost everything we know about the world and how it works demonstrates that our intuitions are almost always wrong.

    The sun does not go around the earth. The earth is not flat. We see only a tiny tiny portion of the EM spectrum. The chair you are sitting on is mostly empty space. You have never actually “touched” anything; rather the electrons of your finger repelled what you thought you were touching. Look about your room. It seems that you can take it all in, but actually you can only “see” a tiny central portion. Your brain constructs most of the perceived image. Drop something. It falls because the earth is curving the space-time, not because anything is pulling on the object. Look at your thumbnail. 100 billion solar neutrinos just passed through it. Take a deep breath. You almost certainly just inhaled an oxygen molecule exhaled by Julius Caesar on his dying breath. You have 100 times more bacterial cells living in you than cells that are actually you. Does the floor feel still and stable beneath your feet? It’s rotating at a thousand miles and hour, and the whole planet is whipping around the sun at 100,000 mile an hour.

    By what method did humans learn that stuff? Intuition? Faith? Revelation?

    If you even respond, you will of course be relying on one of the technological fruits of science, and further prove my point.

  • Glenn October 12, 2008, 12:33 am

    Rob, I’m now absolutely staggered at your approach. You seem to actually think that the kinds of facts gained by the study of the physical sciences are the only kind of facts that there are! Good grief man!

    I want you to answer this question without googling the word or doing anything else to look it up. Before I used the word in my previous comment on this blog, had you even heard of intuitionism before? Do you even know what it is?

  • Rob October 12, 2008, 3:25 am

    No, I’ve never heard the word intuitionism. I understand the common meaning of intuition.

    Why does that matter? I did not say anything about “intuitionism” anyway. I might have, If I knew what you were talking about.
    “You seem to actually think that the kinds of facts gained by the study of the physical sciences are the only kind of facts that there are!”

    I have not said anything to suggest I believe that.

    You are staggered and I am startled. You still maintain that experience does not lead some people to naturalism, despite overwhelming evidence.

  • Glenn October 12, 2008, 2:45 pm

    I said intuitionism, and then you replied writing it off. Maybe you shouldn’t have commented on it at all if you had never heard of it. You think your comments don’t imply that the physical sciences are the only way to gain knowledge. It just seems to me that you’re making comments int he dark: Not even knowing what you’re criticising ont he wone hand and not even realising the implications of your comments on the other.

    All due respect, but it reminds me a little of a certain Dr Dawkins.

  • Rob October 12, 2008, 3:29 pm

    You also used the word “intuition”, and that is what I criticized.

    My comments demonstrate that intuition is a HORRIBLE epistemic method. The implications of that are for you to decide.

    It’s odd that you would lecture me for commenting on something I did not comment on.

    In the dark?

    You are the one defending epistemic methods from The Dark Age.

  • Glenn October 13, 2008, 12:44 am

    Rob, and which method from the dark ages (a highly misleading term, btw) am I defending? Please be very specific so that I can see if you know what you’re talking about. Thanks.

    (And if you say “intuitionism,” which is the label I tacitly defended earlier, then please be ready to explain what is wrong with intuitionism. When I used the word “intuition” I was merely referring to the list provided in the quote you gave, as you’ll see if you scroll up and look.)

  • Rob October 13, 2008, 6:31 am

    Have not we we done enough here? I said Dark Age as a riff off of you telling me I was in the dark.

    Stick with your intuitionism if you want. I’ll stick with my method.

  • Glenn October 13, 2008, 7:56 am

    Intuitionism is one tool among many. Thank you for essentially conceding that your shot about the dark ages lacked substance. As for your method (i.e. believing that science shows what someone else tells you it shows), well it’s free world.

  • Rob October 13, 2008, 8:34 am

    “Thank you for essentially conceding that your shot about the dark ages lacked substance.”

    No problem, my jokes are frequently misunderstood.

    “well, it’s a free world.”

    Amen, brother.

  • david w April 16, 2009, 5:30 pm

    Hmm, you sent me here because you thought I might find it educational and I guess to a degree I have.

    I think you haven’t really realised what most people object to about ID. In most cases I’d argue that that ID is just wrong (that’s all I was saying in the thread this started at), but when people actually want to get this stuff taught in schools (which is about 90% of what the ID movement in the US is about) then it’s worth pointing our that, in fact, it’s not even wrong.

    No one that I know of thinks that ID couldn’t provide an explanation at all, the problem is it’s not science. Science is a tool that we use to understand the world and to make it work we are necessarily limited to theories (btw, I don’t think any of the ‘theories’ you talked about in your podcast would qualify for that name the way it is used in science) that make testable predictions. You’re right that normal special relativity and the neo-Lorentzian interpretation say different things about absolute simultaneity. I’m sure that’s interesting to philosophers of time but it’s not a scientific debate (all we can say is they are equally valid interpretations, which is a lot more than we can for ID). String theory has some beautiful maths but no predictions that we can test; not science. Compare with evolutionary biology (my specialty, any other established science would be fine too) from which we can predict that all modern species are related to contemporary species by ancestral ones, that we can test that relationship with characters that inherited from ancestral species, that independent lines of evidence will converge on the same relationships (morphology, behaviour, DNA, biogeography ), that mutant genes alter their hosts fitness, that currently existing organs could have been made by a series of intermediate forms each serving some purpose (ID’s only genuine scientific tool, IC is just this turned around a negative argument and was foreseen and delt with by Darwin in The Origin )… It’s only because of such predicitions that we can choose say new-Darwinian evolution over Lamarkian evolution (which predicts parents can pass on acquired characteristics) or saltationist theories of evolution (which predicted that whole species/traits/organs can arise in a single mutation). Compare this to “ID theory”. What does the idea intelligence was involved at some stage in the formation of life predict that we can go out ant measure and put to the test? The ID crowd have never presented a criterion by which we can decide intelligence was required for this or that level of complexity. Until they do, or provide a single prediction of their theory they are not doing science.

    The requirement for methodological naturalism is simply an extension of the requirement for testability. How can we scientifically choose between two supernatural hypotheses? If H1 is Jesus was resurrected bodily from his tomb after his death and H2 is the universe was created yesterday complete with all your memories and all the religious and historical texts we have then which one should we choose? You might have theological or philosophical reasons to choose one from the other but since they don’t make predictions in the physical world science can’t tell us which one is better. That means there are (at least hypothetical) examples in which the scientific method will miss something with is True tm but that’s fine, the success of science isn’t tied to metaphysical truth (though obviously it’s findings might feed into people’s ideas about it)

    So, you are welcome to think that biology provides support for an argument from design, and if you want to call that ID then go for it. But it’s not science, and you sure can’t teach it as a valid alternative to an amazing well established scientific theory (which a recent survey suggests ~48% of highschool science teachers in the US are doing even though it’s illegal to do so.)

  • Glenn April 16, 2009, 8:52 pm

    David, I think your comments illustrate something very important: In order to set up a definition of science in such a way that it excludes ID, we have to set it up in such a way as to exclude many things that we already, in fact, regard as scientific areas of inquiry, such as issues in special relativity or string theory. That you go so far as to deny that those areas of inquiry are scientific (and I’m not sure that you really mean this as it sounds) just illustrates the bizarre extremes that we’d have to go to in order to reverse engineer a definition of science to exclude ID.

  • david w April 16, 2009, 9:50 pm

    I really mean string theory isn’t science, or at least at the moment string theory doesn’t make any predictions and while it isn’t making predictions we have no way of knowing if the model accurately describes the universe. It could well be right but at the moment its not science. Lots of science has philosophical implications, your example relativity is one such, but if those implications aren’t testable… well, you know the rest.

    It’s not about “reverse engineering” something to rule out ID. It’s the same criterion that Popper put forward to rule Marxist history and Freudian psychiatry out as sciences in the 40s. It’s very much the mainstream way of demarking science from non-science and pseudo-science. So much so that in many countries its part of the regulations surrounding the use of scientific evidence in legal cases (obviously I’m not trying to argue that fact adds to the suitability of the criterion, just pointing out that it is very widely accepted)

  • Glenn April 16, 2009, 10:44 pm

    David, I think it most certainly is a case of reverse engineering, but I think it’s unlikely we’ll see eye to eye on that.

    As for your “if it isn’t testable,” comment and you suggestion that I “know the rest,” let’s not assume that I “know” that this criteria is genuine and necessary, shall we? 😉

    What’s more, in the episode I explain why ID meets the “does it make predictions” criteria as much as much as any number of scientific theories about the past (i.e. they lack predictive power too), but this doesn’t prevent us from regarding them as “scientific theories” in any normal sense of the words. I think int he case of ID people are erecting higher hurdles, requiring more idiosyncratic definitions, and in general just, as I said, reverse engineering a definition of science to exclude it.

    I don’t mind if you personally think it’s wrong, falsified, based on dubious premises and therefore unsuitable for teaching in public schools etc. That’s the scientific way to keep it out of school. But to create rules that legislate it out of schools regardless of its merits is, in my humble opinion, unscientific and fanatical.

  • Mr Dennis June 2, 2009, 2:15 pm

    This is old and he probably won’t read it, but following similar logic I’d actually argue that David’s own field of study, evolutionary biology, is not a science.

    Hopefully he feels insulted enough to read on if he does see this again…!

    Following this logic we can divide what is commonly called “science” into two categories:
    – The study of things we can actually measure today (breeding, electronics, astronomy etc). We’ll call this material science.
    – The extrapolation of the results of science to predict things we cannot measure today. This would include theoretical physics, predictions about the future (such as global warming) and assertions about the past (such as evolution and ID). Lets call this scientific philosophy.

    Material science includes almost all science, and certainly includes most of the useful science that has given us computers, cars, and weapons of mass destruction.

    Scientific philosophy is a far more questionable area, that is interesting to study but can never be proved, as an alternative explanation is always possible.

    Material science does not directly prove evolutionary biology any more than it proves ID – it just provides facts that can be interpreted within either framework. We can judge how well the facts fit each framework. But we cannot prove either theory or any alternative theory from the facts.

    One big problem is that people tend to give the claims of a scientist working in the field of scientific philosophy the same weight as the work of a scientist in the material sciences. People think that “scientists” have proved all sorts of stuff, and most don’t get around to differentiating between the relative reliability of different fields of study.

  • Jason S. Kong June 11, 2009, 8:09 am

    Hm. I haven’t even listened to your podcast, but I would say this.

    I do my best to stay out of philosophy when possible because my mind is not geared towards philosophy as much as others are. I enjoy materials/evidence/tangible things to study. So that’s just my weakness off the top.

    I think a better way to explain Mr. Dennis’ two catgeories is simply raw data and interpretation.

    Raw data is what you measure, what you get. Sometimes artifacts are in your raw data. But the data is data. It doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t spell anything.

    What you have after is interpretation. How the data is used, how it is manipulated, how it is read.

    Everyone makes interpretations, but some make interpretations that go a long ways off from the raw data.

    So I would guess that people who fall into Mr. Dennis’ category of scientific philosophy is what I would consider those whose interpretations are large compared to the raw data. Just my thoughts.

  • Anon October 12, 2009, 1:57 am

    “people who fall into Mr. Dennis’ category of scientific philosophy is what I would consider those whose interpretations are large compared to the raw data”

    Is that like when evolutionists discovered a piece of bone and made a photo of a creature doing something? 😉

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