Monday, September 29, 2008


Updated Video List

I'm in the process of sprucing up my list of recommended video files to watch (see left) - so do check out some of these excellent lectures by top-flight scholars :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008 re-publish Philosophia Christi paper on ID

My paper 'The Design Inference from Specified Complexity Defended by Scholars Outside the Intelligent Design Movement: A Critical Review', originally published in the philosophy journal Philosophia Christi, has now been re-published by as:

'The Design Inference - A Critical Review'

This follows re-publication by the EPS website and by the Discovery Institute.


Another Atheist Philosopher Raises Doubts about Darwin

Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel of New York University recently published "Public Education and Intelligent Design," in the Wiley InterScience Journal Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 36, issue 2, on-line at (fee for access US $29.95), an important paper in which he a) raises his own doubts about macroevolution, and b) argues that Darwinism and ID are 'methodologically equivalent' (to use Stephen C. Meyer's terminology) - that is, if ID isn't science then neither is evolution, and if evolution is science then so is ID.

Some highlights from Nagel's paper: he tells us that he "has for a long time been skeptical of the claims of traditional evolutionary theory to be the whole story about the history of life" (p. 202). He reports that it is "difficult to find in the accessible literature the grounds" for these claims. Moreover, he goes farther. He reports that the "presently available evidence" comes "nothing close" to establishing "the sufficiency of standard evolutionary mechanisms to account for the entire evolution of life" (p. 199).

cf. Edward Sisson, 'Prominent Atheist Professor of Law and Philosophy Thomas Nagel Calls Intelligent Design Scientific and Constitutional to "Mention" in Science Classes'

Some longer quotes of note:

'The political urge to defend science education against the threats of religious orthodoxy, understandable though it is, has resulted in a counterorthodoxy, supported by bad arguments, and a tendency to overstate the legitimate scientific claims of evolutionary theory...

The denier that ID is science faces the following dilemma. Either he admits that the intervention of such a designer is possible, or he does not. If he does not, he must explain why that belief is more scientific than the belief that a designer is possible. If on the other hand he believes that a designer is possible, then he can argue that the evidence is overwhelmingly against the actions of such a designer, but he cannot say that someone who offers evidence on the other side is doing something of a fundamentally different kind. All he can say about that person is that he is scientifically mistaken...

Critics take issue with the claims made by defenders of ID about what standard evolutionary mechanisms can accomplish, and argue that they depend on faulty assumptions. Whatever the merits, however, that is clearly a scientific disagreement, not a disagreement between science and something else...

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the two sides are in symmetrical positions. If one scientist is a theist and another an atheist, this is either a scientific or a nonscientific disagreement between them. If it is scientific (supposing this is possible), then their disagreement is scientific all the way down. If it is not a scientific disagreement, and if this difference in their nonscientific beliefs about the antecedent possibilities affects their rational interpretation of the same empirical evidence, I do not see how we can say that one is engaged in science and the other is not. Either both conclusions are rendered nonscientific by the influence of their nonscientific assumptions, or both are scientific in spite of those assumptions. In the latter case, they have a scientific disagreement that cannot be settled by scientific reasoning alone...

What would a biology course teach if it wanted to remain neutral on the question whether divine intervention in the process of life's development was a possibility, while acknowledging that people disagree about whether it should be regarded as a possibility at all, or what probability should be assigned to it, and that there is at present no way to settle that disagreement scientifically? So far as I can see, the only way to make no assumptions of a religious nature would be to admit that the empirical evidence may suggest different conclusions depending on what religious belief one starts with, and that the evidence does not by itself settle which of those beliefs is correct, even though there are other religious beliefs, such as the literal truth of Genesis, that are easily refuted by the evidence.'

cf. Denyse O'Leary, 'Philosopher says teaching students about intelligent design should be okay'

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