ID and Counterorthodoxy

Denyse O’Leary has an interesting post about Thomas Nagel’s views on ID in the educational system. (1) Thomas Nagel is an atheist philosopher from New York University. (2) I found this quote to be interesting.

The political urge to defend science education against the threats of religious orthodoxy, understandable though it is, has resulted in a counterorthodoxy, supported by bad arguments, and a tendency to overstate the legitimate scientific claims of evolutionary theory.

It seems to me, that the rampant hysteria of many naturalistic evolutionists about the ID movement, has indeed caused many evolutionists to overstate the scientific claims of evolutionary theory. They seem bent on saying, “But we can explain that! You’re being stupid again!” They then resort to “just so” stories out of a fear that ID might get a leg up on them. They’ve been doing that ever since Darwin anyway, but it appears to have taken on a tone of desperation in recent years. There’s not much room in legitimate scientific inquiry for desperation. The scientific method, at its best, is a tool for increasing the objectivity of observations. It is not a panacea for establishing truth. Desperation negates the scientific method. The results of science are only as objective as the interpretation of the results (Garbage in garbage out; as the frequent commenter Olorin notes who is on hiatus in Australia and vociferously disagrees with me in most ways).

While I agree that there is a counterorthodoxy element to the Darwinist movement, there is also orthodoxy. And with the orthodoxy (3) of the Darwinists, ID and Creationism are seen as apostasy (4). In the hallowed halls of higher academia, one must be an orthodox evolutionist in order to thrive and survive, lest you be naturally selected for career death. (5) This is true to a lesser extent in my chosen field of psychology. There seems to be a bit more humility in the field of psychology than the field of biology–although I use the term rather loosely as psychology has the highest percentage of atheism of any other field in the US (67%). I can only hope that Darwinism matures. If your theory is sound, what need have you of desperation and hysteria? I hope that Darwinists can, eventually, obtain the much-needed objectivity required for scientific inquiry, and calm down a bit. It really is okay to say, “I don’t know.”

(1). Intelligent design and high culture: Philosopher says teaching students about intelligent design should be okay, Denyse O’Leary

(2). Thomas Nagel
(3). Orthodoxy. Wikipedia.
(4). Apostasy. Wikipedia.
(5). Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

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8 Responses

  1. I can only hope that Darwinism matures. If your theory is sound, what need have you of desperation and hysteria? I hope that Darwinists can, eventually, obtain the much-needed objectivity required for scientific inquiry, and calm down a bit. It really is okay to say, “I don’t know.”

    In my experience, people, who are unsure of themselves and what they believe (or perhaps, have something to hide), become very irrational, defensive and irate when their “knowledge” and beliefs are questioned in any way. As an example, I recently had a person on my site whose only response to what I had written was in the form of childish responses: “You must be really stupid?” “You must have flunked biology!” etc. I went to this person’s blog, and he evidently is highly educated and intelligent, but I never would have known this by his response to my post!

    This kind of extreme reaction is much easier for me to understand with the overly religious (superstitious) person in the pew, but I find this kind of reaction to be strange, as well as contradictory, in highly educated and skeptical people who profess to frown on intolerance towards anything (other than God), in particular, contrary ideas and evidence! Perhaps, Thomas Nagel is an atheist who is not fearful of a dissenting opinion and therefore, rational? If so, others could learn a great deal from him!

  2. Yes, this is what I have observed as well. I suppose Nagel reminds me a bit of Carl. He is secure enough to allow that others might have differing opinions, and doesn’t get all bent out of shape over it.

  3. I suppose Nagel reminds me a bit of Carl. He is secure enough to allow that others might have differing opinions, and doesn’t get all bent out of shape over it.

    Yes, I agree completely!

  4. […] ID and Counterorthodoxy | Intelligent Design and More. […]

  5. Being compared with Nagel is one of the most flattering things I’ve ever heard about me! Thank you!

  6. You’re welcome, Carl!

  7. A quick comment on “just-so stories”: it seems to me that Behe and Dembski often use arguments from probability theory in order to show that it is extremely unlikely that a specific structure, biochemical pathway, etc. could have evolved. (Where by “evolved” I mean “without teleological or intelligent intervention”) In response to such arguments, it seems legitimate to provide a scenario which alters the probabilities, without having to empirically verify that that scenario is the one that was actually taken. In other words, conceptual arguments are met with by conceptual arguments. It’s a double-standard to insist that conceptual/probabilistic arguments be met with by empirically verified scenarios, isn’t it?

  8. Carl wrote:

    A quick comment on “just-so stories”: it seems to me that Behe and Dembski often use arguments from probability theory in order to show that it is extremely unlikely that a specific structure, biochemical pathway, etc. could have evolved.

    While Behe does this some, that is not all he does. For example, he applies statistical analysis in order to determine how many beneficial random mutations might be expected in a given population over so many generations. He backs this up with data (e.g., related to beneficial mutations leading to medication resistant malaria). So, at least in this instance, more than conceptual arguments would be needed.

    I think I can see where it would make sense to address conceptual arguments with conceptual arguments. I also think that many evolutionists take conceptual arguments as if they represent empirically verified scenarios, because they have the weight and credibility of science behind them. I can also see where a conceptual argument would be insufficient. If the initial argument (let’s say by ID folks), makes a statement that a certain process cannot be demonstrated experimentally, then a response of “Yes it can, I can imagine a scenario where it could,” would not be very impressive to me.

    Also, I think part of the role of science is to help resolve conceptual arguments (called theories in this case). So, sometimes I think you need to have more than a conceptual argument, even if the initial argument raised is a conceptual one.

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