Thursday, August 10, 2006

Link Love 2

Classes start today, so I doubt I will have as much time to maintain this blog as I did over the summer. However, there are a couple of articles from way back that I wanted to recommend and briefly discuss. Why Theology is a Simple Muddle, by Lee Harris over at TCS. This a lengthy and wide-ranging article concerning the creation-evolution-ID debate. Harris discusses what constitutes science, how scientific consensus is determined, and the potential theological consequences of evolution. He writes many provocative things, not all of which I agree with. His criticism of Karl Popper is not compelling, in my view, and his characterization of Calvinism is at odds with what Calvin actually wrote on the subject of evangelism. But the money line in the essay is this:
It is scientifically impermissible to point to some biological datum and say, "Ah ha-this could not be the result of the natural selection of fortuitous, that is, random, variations. Ergo, we must assume that an intelligent agent was responsible for this particular characteristic, otherwise inexplicable by Darwinian science." Rather, the most that can be made of such Darwinian anomalies is to create a list of problems that challenge the normal science of evolutionary biology as it is currently understood by the scientific community; but no list of problems, however long and however perplexing, can, by itself, create a paradigm shift away from Darwin's theory to a new scientific paradigm. This list of problems may well make some scientists uneasy or uncomfortable with the explanatory power of Darwin's theory, but mere psychological dissatisfaction with a scientific paradigm can never create the kind of scientific revolution that is necessary to produce a Kuhnian paradigm shift.
This statement seems undeniable to me, and it is what has always bothered me about I.D. Not that the universe or the cell were not designed, but that merely showing the inadequacy of the Darwinian paradigm to explain them does not, in and of itself, establish design. Which brings me to another article on TCS, Denying the Undeniable Design, by Douglas Kern. Kern essentially makes a reductio ad absurdum argument by having a Darwinian scientist make all the usual criticisms of I.D. . . . but in the face of the discovery of God's actual signature on the cell itself! The value of the essay is to ask, what if God, or some higher intelligence, really did design the cell. What evidence would scientifically establish this fact? The answer appears to be that science has no standards of evidence regarding design . . . but that doesn't mean that we can't recognize it when we see it.

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