PZ Myers has a great post Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Intelligent Design. It briefly discusses, and disposes of, some of the most common intelligent design (ID) arguments. And does it so clearly.
He is a great writer – and I just don’t know how gets time to write so well and do all the other things he does. His upcoming book should be great – but I have yet to hear of any publication date.
I have extracted question 3 because I think this is of general interest. And one I think is important to counter. The question and accompanying argument is taken from a Christian Apologetics article by William Dembski and Sean McDowell.
Dembski’s and McDowell’s Rules of Science question:
“Who determines the rules of science? Are these rules written in stone? Is it mandatory that scientific explanations only appeal to matter and energy operating by unbroken natural laws (a principle known as methodological naturalism)?
The rules of science are not written in stone. They have been negotiated over many centuries as science (formerly called “natural philosophy”) has tried to understand the natural world. These rules have changed in the past and they will change in the future. Right now much of the scientific community is bewitched by a view of science called methodological naturalism, which says that science may only offer naturalistic explanations. Science seeks to understand nature. If intelligent causes operate in nature, then methodological naturalism must not be used to rule them out.
PZ Myers’ response:
“Who? Man, these guys have got intent and agency etched deep into their brain, don’t they?
The rules of science are entirely pragmatic – we do what works, defined as a process that produces explanations that allow us to push deeper and deeper into a problem. That’s all we care about. Show us a tool that actually generates new insights into biology, rather than recycling tired theological notions, and some scientist somewhere will use it. We’re still waiting for one.
I am amused by the use of the word ‘bewitched’ to categorize people who don’t invoke magical ad hoc explanations built around undetectable supernatural entities, however.”