Monday, April 24, 2006

Confusion among the IDolators

Crandaddy, writing at Dembski's blog, is confused. In a post entitled "Keep it Comming [sic], Guys!," he takes on Barbara Forrest, claiming that:
the best ID=Creationism arguments she seems to be able to put forth are either red herrings (The designer has to be supernatural.) or ad hominems (The IDists are big, bad Creationists trying to sneak religion into science classrooms.)
To shorten that up, we can summarize his complaint as "Why is the best argument that ID is creationism that ID and Creationism are the same?"

For those who haven't figured it out yet, the problem with creationism (and Forrest's book demonstrates how "the arguments [of ID] … are equivalent to creationism," in crandaddy's phrasing) is that it is inherently about the supernatural, and if it's about the supernatural, science can't tell us about it.

This, in fact, was the bulk of what Barbara Forrest discussed. She explained carefully why science cannot deal with the supernatural: the supernatural isn't amenable to the scientific method. Science's naturalism isn't some imposed rule, as many IDolators seem to believe, but an unavoidable consequence of the scientific approach. There's nothing predictable about the supernatural, and if there were, it wouldn't be supernatural any more. So long as IDolators are fighting against the scientific method, they are fighting against science, and that's the end of the story.

She talked about how science used to be tinged with the supernatural, whether it was historians trying to impose a nationalistic or religious teleology onto events or Roman engineers using chicken guts for augury before building an aqueduct. What they found was that the math and experiments in physics were more useful for aqueducts and an attempt at unbiased history tended to teach us better lessons and allowed people to compare notes more accurately. Science is naturalistic because that's what works.

The supernaturalism of IDC is not a red herring, it's the end of the game. The fact that it's creationism makes that supernatural element explicit, and ties it to existing legal precedent when the IDolators try to force their way past the scientific process through the courts and through the political process.