Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Taking the side of Science

"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of the failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so-stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."
(Evolutionist Richard Lewontin in The New York Review, January, 1997, page 31)


thekingpin68 said...

"We take the side of science (theology) in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of the failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life...

Now I would never make that statement by replacing the word science with theology.

Jeff said...

Thanks for your comment, Russ.

Here's something I find interesting:

"In a 2002 survey of Ohio residents by University of Cincinnati political scientist George Bishop, very few Ohioans indicated familiarity with the concept of intelligent design, despite significant statewide media attention to the debate over including ID as part of the state’s science curriculum. In the Bishop survey, when asked “Do you happen to know anything about the concept of ‘intelligent design’?,” 84% of respondents did not recognize the term, compared to 14% who indicated familiarity. Given the strong correlation between news media use and education, familiarity with the term was highest among the college educated (28%).

Regardless of their answer, in the Bishop survey, respondents were next provided the following description: “The concept of ‘intelligent design’ is that life is too complex to have developed by chance and that a purposeful being or force is guiding development of life.” Respondents were then asked: “What is your opinion—do you think the concept of intelligent design is a valid scientific account of how human life developed, or is it basically a religious explanation of the development of human life?” A majority of Ohio residents (54%) considered it a religious explanation, compared to 23% who believed it was a valid scientific account, 7% who believed it was a mix of religious and scientific accounts; and 17% who said they were “not sure.”

Bishop compared the survey results from the sample of Ohio residents with the views of a sample of Ohio university scientists. The overwhelming majority of Ohio scientists (91%) considered intelligent design to be a religious explanation, and a similar proportion (93%) said that they were not aware of “any scientifically valid evidence for an alternate scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution.” In addition, 90% believed there was no scientific evidence at all for the idea of intelligent design.

If question wording about intelligent design is changed slightly, very different poll results appear. In a 2002 survey sponsored by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio residents were asked: “The concept of intelligent design is that life is too complex to have developed by chance, and a purposeful being or force is guiding the development of life. Which of the following best describes your view of intelligent design?” In response, 23% answered a “completely valid account of how humans developed;” 48% answered a “somewhat valid account;” 22% “not a valid account;” and 2% were not sure.

Notice that the Cleveland Plain Dealer poll did not ask respondents to distinguish intelligent design as either a scientific or religious account. For the public, in this instance the stand alone term “valid” probably evokes a different standard for evaluation than “scientifically valid.” Again, in this question, the tension between scientific and religious worldviews is likely triggered. The fact that ID is not a scientific theory may not matter to the public’s judgment of its overall “validity.”