Even Dilbert Has to Do His Homework

This bonus chapter addresses the Dover Trial of 2005— a time when the idea of Intelligent Design (or ID) was at the center of a media and political frenzy. The glimpse the chapter provides of the intense feelings that ID can generate makes clear why everyone has to do their own homework on controversial issues and make up their own mind.

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Whether Intelligent Design is Science

On December 20, 2005 Judge John Jones issued his opinion in the matter of Kitzmiller, in which I was the lead witness for the defense. There are many statements of the Court scattered throughout the opinion with which I disagree. However, here I will remark only on section E-4, “Whether ID is Science.”

The Court finds that intelligent design (ID) is not science. In its legal analysis, the Court takes what I would call a restricted sociological view of science: “science” is what the consensus of the community of practicing scientists declares it to be. The word “science” belongs to that community and to no one else. Thus, in the Court’s reasoning, since prominent science organizations have declared intelligent design to not be science, it is not science. Although at first blush that may seem reasonable, the restricted sociological view of science risks conflating the presumptions and prejudices of the current group of practitioners with the way physical reality must be understood.

On the other hand, like myself most of the public takes a broader view: “science” is an unrestricted search for the truth about nature based on reasoning from physical evidence. By those lights, intelligent design is indeed science. Thus there is a disconnect between the two views of what “science” is. Although the two views rarely conflict at all, the dissonance grows acute when the topic turns to the most fundamental matters, such as the origins of the universe, life, and mind.

Below I proceed sequentially through section E-4. Statements from the opinion are in italics, followed by my comments.

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Lesson Plan: Taking Darwin’s Challenge

In Origin of Species Darwin challenged future generations of scientists to remember that “a fair result can beobtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” Despite the fact that leading science education theorists agree that students learn science best when taught “todiscriminate between evidence that supports … or doesnot support”1 a given concept, many modern defenders ofDarwin’s ideas Read More ›

The Return of the God Hypothesis

Historian of science Frederic Burnham has stated that the God hypothesis is now a more respectable hypothesis than at any time in the last one hundred years. This essay explores recent evidence from cosmology, physics, and biology, which provides epistemological support, though not proof, for belief in God as conceived by a theistic worldview. It develops a notion of epistemological support based upon explanatory power, rather than just deductive entailment. It also evaluates the explanatory power of theism and its main metaphysical competitors with respect to several classes of scientific evidence. The conclusion follows that theism explains a wide ensemble of metaphysically-significant evidences more adequately and comprehensively than other major worldviews or metaphysical systems. Thus, unlike much recent scholarship that characterizes science as either conflicting with theistic belief or entirely neutral with respect to it, this essay concludes that scientific evidence actually supports such belief. Read More ›