Status as a Scientific Theory

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    Collins, Jack

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    Miracles, Intelligent Design, and God-of-the-Gaps

    "Both traditional Christian miracle claims and the newer project of 'intelligent design' have been held to commit the 'God-of-the-gaps' fallacy: that is, they depend on our ignorance of the material processes that produced them and invoke supernatural action to explain the unknown. By this argument, scientific research will eventually reduce the 'gaps,' and hence the motive for believing in God. In reply, I argue that a proper treatment of this question requires careful definitions of such terms as 'natural,' 'supernatural,' 'design,' and 'gap.' An attentive consideration of the Christian scholastic metaphysic provides definitions of 'supernatural' and 'design' that give criteria for detecting such events without committing the God-of-the-gaps fallacy. We must distinguish between different kinds of “gaps”: those that are simply gaps in our knowledge, and those that are genuine gaps between the properties of the components and the complex structure we are considering."
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    Collins, Robin

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    A Critical Evaluation of the Intelligent Design Program: An Analysis and a Proposal

    "If the ID program is going to have a real impact on science,...it needs a positive program that will provide scientists with an alternative methodology that they can use to make new, fruitful discoveries. Without this, scientists will fall back into using methodological naturalism by default; Darwinism and other naturalistic research programs would thus still be the only games in town. And this would occur even if individual scientists came to believe that the world and life were designed. Moreover, if advocates of ID can come up with a positive program, this lowers the burden of proof they bear. For example, they would no longer feel as much need to prove that unguided, naturalistic evolution is false. Rather, they could simply argue that there are enough problems with it to merit serious investigation of an alternative."
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    Dembski, William A.

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    The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design

    "Laypersons new to the debate over intelligent design encounter many conflicting claims about whether it is science. A Washington Post front page story (March 14, 2005) asserts that intelligent design is 'not science [but] politics.' In that same story, Barry Lynn, the director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, claims that intelligent design is merely 'a veneer over a certain theological message,' thus identifying intelligent design not with science but with religion. In a related vein, University of Copenhagen philosopher Jakob Wolf argues that intelligent design is not science but philosophy (albeit a philosophy useful for understanding science). And finally, proponents of intelligent design argue that it is indeed science. Who is right?"
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    Fitelson, Branden

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    Some Remarks on the “Intelligent Design” Controversy

    "There are various questions that arise in connection with the 'intelligent design' (ID) controversy...[The] introductory section aims to distinguish five of these questions. Later sections are devoted to detailed discussions of each of these five questions...I can’t see any compelling reason to include ID as part of the public school science curriculum. It seems premature (at best) to place figures like Dembski and Behe alongside Darwin in our public school biology textbooks."
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    Gordon, Bruce L.

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    The Scientific Status of Design Inferences

    "A number of philosophers of science have attempted to give an account of what it means to offer a scientific explanation for a phenomenon. We briefly consider three such accounts: the deductive-nomological model, the causal-statistical (statistical-relevance) model, and the pragmatic model...Since design inferences satisfy all three models of scientific explanation, there seems little reason to bar their legitimacy as a mode of scientific explanation. Indeed, when generating scientific conclusions in cryptography or forensics, the design inference is not controversial. The sticking point centers on the issue of methodological naturalism."
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    Haarsma, Loren

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    Is Intelligent Design 'Scientific'?

    "A central activity of science is construction and testing of empirical models, utilizing known natural mechanisms, of parts of the natural world. Occasionally, some scientists tentatively conclude that some particular phenomenon is unexplainable in terms of any known natural mechanisms. I will discuss some historical examples which have been resolved (e.g. the energy source of the sun) and some modern examples still under discussion (e.g. the Big Bang, first life) where at least some scientists have concluded that a phenomenon is unexplainable in terms of known natural mechanisms. In such circumstances, individual scientists have advocated a range of scientific and philosophical conclusions (e.g. unknown natural mechanisms, multiple universes, divine intervention). The modern Intelligent Design (ID) movement can be understood as one particular instance of this. Some activities of ID are clearly "scientific," even under narrow definitions of that term, including: modeling of evolutionary population dynamics, investigating the adequacy of known evolutionary mechanisms to account for specific instances of biological complexity, and investigating the general conditions under which self-organized complexity is possible. Other activities of ID clearly go beyond science into philosophy and theology; however, this fact does not render the scientific activities of ID any less scientific."
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    Koperski, Jeffrey

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    Two Bad Ways to Attack Intelligent Design and Two Good Ones

    "In the end, there is both good news and bad news here for ID. The bad news is obvious. There isn’t enough hard science to spark the sort of revolution some imagine. What science there is can potentially be explained in less revolutionary ways. The good news is that many scientists and philosophers with impeccable credentials believe there is something right about design...Thus we arrive full circle at the culture wars. In my view, the leading proponents of ID have often been too quick to spot enemies and too slow at finding common ground with others. Similarly, to ID critics there can be no honest skeptics of Darwinism, only Creationists who have gone to extremes to appear dressed and in their right minds."
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    Long, Joseph

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    Contours of Design

    "The purpose of the present paper is not to argue that IDT’s hypotheses are true, useful, or whatever it is that makes a scientific claim good; rather, I only want to present the project of IDT in what I take to be the most charitable light by arguing that it is in fact a science. Moreover, the argument I put forward will reveal IDT’s distinctiveness vis-á-vis biology and theology. Structurally, the argument is a series of two disjunctive syllogisms: Either intelligence is a genuine kind or it is not. On the one hand, if intelligence is not an artificial kind, then denying that intelligence is a genuine kind entails (for reasons offered below) eliminativism with regard to intelligence; on the other hand, if intelligence is a genuine kind, then (also for reasons discussed below) either IDT counts as a science, or the boundary for what counts as a kind is arbitrarily drawn. Since drawing arbitrary divisions in philosophy or science seems unacceptable and few want to go the eliminativist route, one therefore ought to accept IDT as a science. I begin with the concept of kinds."
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    McGrew, Lydia

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    Testability, Likelihoods, and Design

    "It is often assumed by friends and foes alike of intelligent design that a likelihood approach to design inferences will require evidence regarding the specific motives and abilities of any hypothetical designer. Elliott Sober, like Venn before him, indicates that this information is unavailable when the designer is not human (or at least finite) and concludes that there is no good argument for design in biology. I argue that a knowledge of motives and abilities is not always necessary for obtaining a likelihood on design. In many cases, including the case of irreducibly complex objects, frequencies from known agents can supply the likelihood. I argue against the claim that data gathered from humans is inapplicable to non-human agents. Finally, I point out that a broadly Bayesian approach to design inferences, such as that advocated by Sober, is actually advantagous to design advocates in that it frees them from the Popperian requirement that they construct an overarching science which makes high-likelihood predictions."
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    Menuge, Angus J. L.

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    Interpreting the Book of Nature

    "The idea of nature as a book provides one of the richest and most often appropriated metaphors for the natural world. Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and Christians have all seen the work of the scientist as tracing out the telos or logos inscribed in nature by some demiurge or god. Critics of design, from Francis Bacon to Daniel Dennett, also see science as a kind of reading. Bacon urged that nature was a text which, to be rightly understood, must not be anticipated but humbly interpreted. Dennett concludes evolutionary biology must employ 'artifact hermeneutics' to discern what biological structures are adaptations for. Nonetheless, for Dennett, the text is written by the blind process of natural selection, not via the agency of an author. The metaphor of nature as text is congenial to both proponents and critics of Intelligent Design. In this essay, I will trace the history of the idea that nature is a book from early Greek science, through the Middle Ages and Reformation, and culminating in the rise and critique of natural theology. First we will try to understand how science ever got started: What prompted some people to stand back from their busy lives to open the book of nature in the first place? Next we will draw on the recent work of Peter Harrison, in which he argues persuasively that the Reformation provided the crucial hermeneutical change that overcame scholasticism and made modern science possible. Then we move to the great controversy between natural theology and its critics. This we will consider as fundamentally a drama about rival hermeneutics and the proper limits of theological and scientific interpretation. We will attempt to show that sound hermeneutics are vital to understanding the interplay between science and religion."
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    Menuge, Angus J. L.

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    Indirectness and the Displacement Problem: A Reply to Walter Thorson

    "In Walter Thorson’s response to my paper, he provides two additional arguments for his view that Intelligent Design belongs to natural theology, not science. He argues that (1) Intelligent Design makes a premature appeal to divine causes and that (2) this appeal is redundant in science. In response to his first argument, I argue that Thorson attributes to Intelligent Design an assumption about divine agency which it need not hold. In response to his second argument, I argue that the same inference that establishes creaturely telos also points to divine design, and that limiting science to the creaturely falls afoul of Dembski’s 'displacement problem.'"
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    Meyer, Stephen C.

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    The Methodological Equivalence of Design & Descent: Can There Be a Scientific "Theory of Creation"?

    "Science, it is assumed, must look for exclusively natural causes. Since the postulation of an intelligent Designer or Creator clearly violates this methodological norm, such a postulation cannot qualify as a part of a scientific theory. Thus Stephen J. Gould refers to 'scientific creationism' not just as factually mistaken but as 'self-contradictory nonsense.' As Basil Willey put it, 'Science must be provisionally atheistic, or cease to be itself.'...Most scientists who are theists also accept this same conception of science...Yet on what basis is this definition of science asserted?...The purpose of this chapter is to examine the case against the possibility of a scientific theory of intelligent design or creation."
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    Mino, Jeff

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    Science or Sience: The Question of Intelligent Design Theory

    "Intelligent Design Theory (ID) has been much maligned recently as Neo-Creationist pseudoscience. This paper looks briefly at the common arguments used against ID, including arguments from methodological naturalism (MN), falsifiability, productivity, and religious fundamentalism. Ultimately it goes on to explain why the theory could be beneficial to our society today and suggests a need for a methodology of studying nature that exists alongside traditional science yet is not based on the precept of MN."
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    Monton, Bradley

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    Is Intelligent Design Science?: Dissecting the Dover Decision

    "In the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Judge Jones ruled that a pro-intelligent design disclaimer cannot be read to public school students. In his decision, he gave demarcation criteria for what counts as science, ruling that intelligent design fails these criteria. I argue that these criteria are flawed, with most of my focus on the criterion of methodological naturalism. The way to refute intelligent design is not by declaring it unscientific, but by showing that the empirical evidence for design is not there."
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    Ratzsch, Del

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    Design: What Scientific Difference Could It Make?

    "The claims that intelligent design theories are not legitimately scientific and that such theories can carry no genuinely scientific content represent conventional anti-design wisdom. However, actual supports for such claims come to remarkably little and tend to implode under scrutiny. Furthermore, demands confronting design theories are often arbitrarily restricted to the realm of direct empirical consequences. The precise surface-level empirical upshot of design theories is, I think, still relatively minimal. But the directly empirical level does not exhaust the substance of science, and design theories may bring to science deeper cognitive richness, broader conceptual resources, and more substantive anchors than a purely (methodologically) naturalistic science can achieve."
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    Ratzsch, Del

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    "Design Theory and its Critics: Monologues Passing in the Night", Review article of: Robert T. Pennock (ed.), Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics

    "Although...I have some reservations about this book, I do think the collection will be useful for some purposes. It is not exactly the collection I would have hoped for, and some of the articles are not, I think, terribly helpful. But some are. Of the articles which appear here for the first time, those by Barbara Forrest and Peter Godfrey- Smith are, as I see it, of most interest. Of the roughly 80% of the articles available elsewhere, the pieces by Alvin Plantinga and Evan Fales in Section V, and that by Paul Nelson in Section VIII are, again as I see it, the most interesting."
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    Thorson, Walter R.

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    Naturalism and Design in Biology: Is Intelligent Dialogue Possible?

    "Seen as natural theology rather than science, 'intelligent design' (ID) is not incompatible with a 'naturalistic' approach to biology proposed earlier...This paper develops ideas based on this understanding, emphasizing points of mutual agreement and some unresolved differences between the two perspectives. In particular, (1) negative critiques of mechanistic biological origins theories by ID proponents have scientific merit, needing serious consideration by opponents; (2) no a priori reason exists to favor a mechanistic natural philosophy of ultimate origins over other options (such as ID); and (3) more open dialogue can be mutually constructive for each side, if philosophically polarized positions do not make it impossible. However, (4) if ID is an idea with scientific implications, proponents need to show how it affects biology as a science (i.e. in 'naturalistic' terms); (5) analogy with the history of physical science suggests a primary focus on origins questions is anomalous and inappropriate for biology at present; and (6) a naturalistic program, focused not on origins per se, but on the distinctive logical organization of biosystems, is directly relevant to scientific understanding."
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    Thorson, Walter R.

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    Hermeneutics for Reading the Book of Nature: A Response to Angus Menuge

    "This response discusses Menuge’s paper and areas of mutual agreement and dispute regarding distinct hermeneutics for science and natural theology; claims for Intelligent Design belong to natural theology, not to science. Reasons for clearly separate hermeneutics in science and natural theology are given by contrasting Aristotle’s modern and harmful influence with a different alternative for biological science."
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    Tyler, David

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    Is Design Part of Science?

    "The 19th Century saw the flowering of the Enlightenment, with a powerful movement to secularise science...Instead of arguing for the superiority of explanations based on law and/or chance, those involved in the secularising trend have opted to exclude design from science as a matter of principle...In recent years, attempts have been made to counter the secularising trend in science. Evidence-based reasoning to design has reappeared. It is claimed that design inferences need to be an integral part of the methodology of science, and Dembski has led the way in giving conceptual and mathematical credibility to the subject...Rejection of design should never be done as a matter of principle, but because law and chance provide superior explanations."