Monday, October 12, 2009

Bad theology and bad science

[Formerly on the Sidewiki at Uncommon Descent:]

The founder of this blog, William A. Dembski, has proclaimed that "intelligence creates information" [source]. He and other proponents of intelligent-design creationism (IDC) hold that information is physical, like matter and energy, and that intelligence is purposeful and natural, though immaterial and unobservable. IDC calls for science to consider the possible physical existence of something immaterial and unobservable that purposefully creates physical stuff out of nothing.

It is remarkable that proponents of IDC, most of whom believe in a supernatural Creator, attribute the design of living things to natural intelligence. Until recent years, a more coherent IDC held that intelligence was "non-natural." The view was unlikely, however, to make its way into science curricula of public schools, given that federal case law prohibits instruction in the supernatural. Evidently IDC strategists realized this, and shifted to intelligence is natural, but not material as a matter of expedience. No leading proponent stepped forward to announce the change in stance and offer an explanation. It makes a muddle of IDC, both logically and theologically.

All who oppose IDC, be they theistic, non-theistic, anti-theistic, deistic, or agnostic, agree that scientific explanations cannot include the famous "then a miracle occurs" step — even those who believe that miracles really do occur. And a claim that an invisible, immaterial entity has created something physical with evident purpose is indeed a claim of a miracle.

I think you should be more explicit here in step two.

Scientists work to explain the wonders of nature, not "unexplain" them by accepting that they are miracles due to purposeful intervention of something invisible. The history of science is full of cases in which the seemingly unexplainable was explained. As a practical matter, scientists can never give up trying to show that the wondrous is not miraculous.


  1. Google Sidewiki allows you to augment any webpage with comments in a sidebar. I believe that it will catch on. Installation is quick and easy.

    The ordering of comments in the sidebar depends on votes on their usefulness. Please install Sidewiki and vote.

  2. Well said!

    Sorry, I don't have more to add.

  3. As soon as Sidewiki becomes available for Safari, I may look at UD again, if only to see the wailing and gnashing of teeth when they find themselves unable to censor opposing views.