Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Response to Instapundit on Intelligent Design

Glen said

"Except that Intelligent Design in the Universe isn't the same as Intelligent Design of the Universe. And the ID theorists I've encountered generally seem to have already decided who the Designer is, before they ever started looking for evidence of design."

So what?

I've seen John Derbyshire offer the same ad hominem attack, and I don't think it had any more basis then than it does when you suggest it, Glen. Should we ignore Einstein's special theory of relativity because he might have saw where it was going before he formally made his argument? Is it impossible to offer a reliable, credible argument when those arguments conform with some preconcieved belief or idea we have? Your dismissal suggests otherwise. I guess that means we should ignore all the economists offering empirical and theoretical works on the value of choice in ecomonic decisions if they happened to be free-marketers well before they went to grad school. This is just ad hominem, Glen. It has nothing to do with their substantive argument...and is an inappropriate basis for rejecting their argument. What *is* this supposed to say...except be a backhand way of saying that "these are Christians just confirming their faith, so we need not take them seriously?" Or to put it another way, "we shouldn't believe them because they are Christians." A prior belief in God may make one more likely to accept or more enamored with the ID arguments...but that has nothing to do with the validity of the argument itself. This hand-wave of yours strikes me as a particularly poor argument to offer against any idea.

And furthermore, the link between religious beliefs and Intelligent Design is tenuous at best. Especially so when you look at religious doctrine. ID doesn't 'confirm' Christian (or any) religious belief. It doesn't say anything about a personal God. It doesn't say anything about any of the religious doctrines of the various Faiths. It doesn't even require God to be Good. The universe could easily be intelligently designed, that design could be detectable, and it still be the case that God could care less about any of us. Indeed, the God that intelligently designed the universe and/or set the biological life on Earth in motion could also be Pro-Choice, for gay marriage, and against helping the poor for all we know (to be particularly glib about it). For the religious person, I.D. constitutes a lot of hard work for a not-so-great payoff. The existance of God is a necessary prerequisite to most religious beliefs, but finding empirical evidence of that existence (and only of the existence) is hardly a central focus. As evidenced by the numerous evolutionists and Darwinists who are also devoted believers in one religion or another. Indeed, the ID argument is only directly applicable to the central belief of atheists. There we see a direct challenge to *the* core principle of that philosophy. Now, I'm not going to dismiss someone's critique of ID because they happened not to believe in God prior to encountering the idea...and I'd appreciate it if you returned the favor to the ID'rs. D.GOOCH