Sunday, September 25, 2005

Free speech

Ed Brayton is right (as is so often the case). The IDC argument about freedom of speech doesn't cut it. The contrary argument does work. If a court declares that IDC is science even though most scientists disagree, it's a blatant attack on those scientists' freedom of speech. Scientists who write textbooks which fail to toe the creationists' line will be discriminated against. Scientists who have different theistic views than the IDolators would be discriminated against. So would students and teachers.

There is no empirical evidence of supernatural design in biological systems. There is no adequate way of testing the hypothesis that such design exists.

The thing people have trouble with in evaluating this situation is that one does see "design" of some sort in biology. My hands are flexible and dextrous enough to type, for instance, and that seems like design.

This argument is essentially what William Paley advanced in his "Natural Theology" an argument which Darwin was familiar with (Darwin cites Paley exactly once, on an unrelated point). Darwin's insight was that small changes added together and recombined in a population could lead to structures which perform certain functions very well, well enough that they appear "designed" for the purpose.

Nonetheless, Billy Dembski, Phil Johnson, Mikey Behe and their gang of miscreants revived Paley's half-assed argument and are trying to force their "natural theology" into science classes.

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