Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Testing the Designer

Thought Pimp says:
Let's bring intelligent design into biology, and take the vague theory and refine it into mutually exclusive families of clearer hypotheses. Each of which we analyze for explanatory power, corroborating and disconfirming evidence, and so on.

And in the process, we will show that the Christian concept of God is scientifically false---we can say with a fair degree of scientific confidence that there is no god much like the God they want.

But of course, that will never happen. They'd accuse us of violating their boundary between 'science' and 'religion,' and taking a 'religious' stance. (Well, anti-religious, and in a sense they'd be right on that.) If we said the truth, which is that scientists know orthodox Christianity to be scientifically false, we'd be lynched.
Well, I don't know about the extent of this claim. But it does suggest a slightly different angle - if ID is taken to mean a substantive claim, that is if they managed to actually assert something about the Designer rather than rely on vague generalities and attacks of (straw) evolution, then the knife cuts both ways. If we have an actual hypothesis about design, we can test it, and hence it is vulnerable to disproof. So in that sense, bring it on.

Note, though, that this is not the same thing as putting the Christian God under scrutiny. Thought Pimp seems to have bought into the idea that ID represents the Christian, or even just a general theistic, God. From what I know of theology that is a very bad assumption. For example, Tillich's, Bultmann's and Barth's differing accounts of God are neither scientifically impossible nor vulnerable to disproof. I don't even think Aquinas' God is, despite his rather dated metaphysics (which nevertheless still interests philosophers). Moreover, most theists treat God's actions as being what underlies the continuous existence of the physical world. So it follows that for those theists, whatever science uncovers must be not only consonant with the God's creativity, but identical to it.

But the Designer now, he's vulnerable to confirmation and disconfirmation. Which is why the ID folk say absolutely nothing about him.

[Late note: I changed the title - I forgot to edit it when using BlogThis]