The other night, while reading the “latest” article on Gregorian University’s Darwin Conference, I came across this website called www.intelligentdesign.net. It is a very anti-ID site that, while accusing ID supporters of various misrepresentations, lies and manipulations, itself engages in the same tactics. I e-mailed the webmaster with the following critique. The e-mail bounced back, so here it is:
The problem is that both Darwinists and Creationists engage indeception and misrepresentation to make their cases. For example, youcall your website, “intelligentdesign.net,” which misleads people whothink they are finding a site *in favor of* intelligent design, andanyone with a modicum of college education should know that the bestway to learn about a belief system is to read what the proponentsreally say.
You start off with this statement:”Since this supernatural force is presumably outside the limits ofhuman comprehension, it cannot be a proper subject of science. “Yes and no. First of all, science, strictly speaking, is about directobservation of material phenomena.
You are using the wrong criterion for the limitations of science. Thelimitation of science is what we can know empirically based uponobservation. The more accurate way to phrase it would be, “Bydefinition, a supernatural force would not be the proper subject ofscience, in that science can only deal with what is natural.” Theerror of Darwinists (I am distinguishing between Darwinism as aphilosophy and evolution as a scientific theory) is that Darwinistspractice philosophy under the guise of science. They say, “Sciencehas discovered X. This disproves God, because Y.” If you tell methat a toucan evolved from a bluebird, that doesn’t tell me–on thesurface–anything about God. It tells me about toucans and bluebirds.
The limitation of science is empiricism. The limitation of theologyis revelation. Philosophy is the discipline of applying human reasonto evidence to see what we can discern from that evidence beyond itsface value.
Now, the second problem with the above statement is that you say the”supernatural force is . . . outside the limits of humancomprehension.” That carries with it several flaws.
God as such is outside the limits of human comprehension. Whether Godexists is certainly not. DNA is outside the limits of mycomprehension. I know DNA exists. I know what it does. But I cannotfathom the complexity of the human genome.
There may be some scientific savant who is capable of not onlymemorizing the human genome but visualizing it and considering it inits entirety. There are especially gifted mystics who come fartherthan most people think possible in probing the Divine.
But, for most of us, both things are “incomprehensible” in scope.That does not mean we cannot know them.
However, again, I agree with your assessment that God is outside therealm of science, just disagree with your reasoning.
As a Catholic, I have long looked at this debate only superficially.I see the creationism/Darwinsim debate as the limited field of a bunchof extremists on both sides, both of whom are ignorant of philosophy.The more I’ve learned about ID, though, I’ve become intrigued.Recently, because of the film _Expelled_ and the Vatican conference onevolution, I’ve been trying to find out more about ID.
I came to your website seeking an answer to a question about what,exactly, constitutes ID. Atheists claim that ID is “repackagedcreationism,” yet, when I heard ID people talk, it sounds like they’remerely practicing metaphysics.
Your website confirms my pre-existing conception: the term”Intelligent Design” is used as a catch-all for any system which triesto argue, from scientific evidence, in favor of a Creator.
On one end of the spectrum, ID is “repackaged creationism” becauseboth sets of extremists–the Fundamentalists and the Darwinists–haveallowed the arguments of “scientific creationism”. Here, you insistthat ID is “not a theory but the negation of a theory.” You claimthat ID consists in nothing more than denying evidence in favor of anold earth , evolution, etc.
However, later on, you contradict yourself:”In the abstract, the idea of intelligent design neither contradictsevolution nor supports Biblical creationism. Michael Behe, aChristian biology professor whose book Darwin’s Black Box has put himat the forefront of the intelligent design movement, does not disputeevolution, an old earth, or the common descent of man and otherprimates.”My understanding was that _Darwin’s Black Box_ is the definitive bookon “intelligent design.”
“As a synonym for ‘couldn’t have evolved,’ irreducible complexitydemonstrates nothing more than incomplete knowledge and lack ofimagination. “That’s funny. I think that atheism demonstrates nothing more thanincomplete knowledge and lack of imagination.
You even admit that “irreducible complexity” pre-dates Darwin. It isthe foundation of Christian philosophy, and, indeed, the foundation ofpre-Christian philosophy.There are always new questions to be asked. You are saying, inessence, that we are not allowed to ask those questions, that *asking*those questions is somehow anti-intellectual.
This leads me to the question in my subject header: is Aristotle’s_Metaphysics_ a work of “intelligent design”?
Until Darwin, people had the curiosity to keep asking “Why?”
Yes, historically, religious “fundamentalists” have often impeded thequestion “Why?” By saying, “Look to the Bible” or whatever. Afterall, the Greeks had their own religion, and the early philosopherswere challenged for asking “Why?”
But science as we know it, inquiry as we know it, grew up in theCatholic Church. It takes the Catholic view of the world for scienceto flourish. How many great discoveries have been made by people offaith? (mainly Catholics?) How many great discoveries have been madeby atheists?
The ready answer would be that the Church ruled Europe for about 1500years and/or that most people in universities were priests. However,those priests could have easily stuck to the model practiced by mostother religions–and by European schools in the so-called “DarkAges”–and stuck to theology.
But they didn’t. They wanted to know about science.
They said that the Universe has a Creator, and we can and should knowHim through it. That it is a sin to reject what science can teach us.They said that Jesus is the Truth, and that all truth is a way to knowJesus better.
What both fundamentalists and atheists lack is Wonder. They do notwant to ask the deeper questions. They both want easy answers.
Continuing on through the website shows more of the same. You do agood job of “debunking” some of the strategies implied byCreationists, but you engage in the same kind of strategy by equatinganyone who sees God’s hand in science with those who deny scienceoutright.
You claim that Christians “demonize” Darwinists by saying that mostpeople who push evolution are atheists. Yet you seem to use the term”Christian” and “fundamentalist Christian” interchangeably. You saythat ID supporters never do anything but refute. Your website doesnothing but refute. You give no presentation of what your worldviewis nor of what your own agenda might be.
There are several other points I might specifically argue, but I’vealready provided more than enough material for your response. My corequestion/challenge is this: what do you believe are the proper rolesand relationships of science, philosophy and theology?
Pax et bonum,
John C. Hathaway