Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Supernatural not religious?

The York Daily Record/Sunday News carried another opinion piece on 20 May 2007 by Richard Cleary, a retired alleged science teacher and devotee of Intelligent Design Creationism. He's still whining about Judge John E. Jones III's decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover, in which ID was dealt a mortal blow. He seems to be conceding that ID is supernatural, but saying that doesn't make it religious. He does not bother to define "supernatural" or "religious" in his piece, but obfuscation and fogginess are stanard operating procedures for Intelligent Design Creationists.

Cleary makes a series of arguments, all erroneous, misleading, or merely straw men. His favorite seems to be that the Intelligent Designer may be supernatural, meaning outside of this universe. He claims that's no more religious than the concept of multiverses, so maybe the Intelligent Designer lives in one of those parallel universes. Codswallop--that's no better than claiming said Designer lives in France. I suppose he would have to suggest there's a different Intelligent Designer in each universe, responsible for designing one of the others. In other words, it's turtles all the way down.

Cleary disingenuously claims
But sometimes we hear that ID is a religious belief because its advocates are frequently Christians. But if the metaphysical commitments of a theory's advocates are all that are necessary to make a theory religious, why is the naturalistic Darwinian view not considered to be an atheistic belief since many of its advocates are certainly atheists? Furthermore, if the naturalistic view is indeed an atheistic hypothesis, why is it permitted to be taught in our schools?

The old "if playing baseball is a sport, not playing baseball is another sport" contention. We teach science in school; evolution is science, a very important science, so we teach evolution. What is so hard to understand here? And what about the fact that many evolution scientists are not atheists?

Further foolishness:

But what is meant by saying that the designer can't be detected? Does it mean that we just can't see the designer and thus have no direct evidence that there is one? Or does it mean that the designer is in principle undetectable?

If it means the former, we should point out that there are dozens of entities scientists postulate which cannot be directly observed - quarks, neutrinos and dark matter, for example - but they can be studied and their existence inferred from their effects.

Likewise, there is abundant evidence of design in our world from which we can infer the existence of a designer. It may be that we can't study the designer directly right now because our technology doesn't allow it, but that doesn't mean that we'll never be able to study it.

How silly! What a child! Of course we study things we cannot see; we have special instruments to detect them and measure their properties. What instruments do we have for detecting Intelligent Design? What do we measure, and in what units? Measuring properties of quarks is not the same as seeing unicorns in the clouds, or concluding that, because humans design and manufacture (oops, sorry, I realize the ID folkses can't deal with the manufacturing aspect) pocket watches and Mini Coopers, anything more complex than a piece of chalk must therefore also be designed. We've seen that Dembski's Explanatory Filter is useless; what, then, Mr. Cleary, is the evidence indicating Design that you claim is so abundant ?

Cleary winds up his opinion with the claim that it is "[o]nly those who don't understand ID or who choose to misrepresent it, two groups which include almost all of its opponents, some of its advocates, and Judge Jones, do that [identify The Designer with God of the Bible]." He needs to listen to his leaders; the grand poobahs of ID have themselves identified The Designer as God and revealed their religious agenda:

Phillip Johnson, who reanimated ID in 1991: “[T]he materialist story thrives only as long as it does not confront the biblical story directly. In a direct conflict, where the public perceives the issues clearly, the biblical story will eventually prevail” [The Wedge of Truth, 1991].

William Dembski wrote in the July/August 1999 Touchstone Magazine: “Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”

UPDATE: My letter to the editor responding to Cleary's nonsense was published Saturday, 2 June. Another LTE critical of Cleary's article, was published the day before. That letter concluded, And as long as its proponents base their arguments on biblical references, ID is religious.

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