ID Debate Anyone?

This is a gooder. I love Berlinski's opening remarks. Too funny.

I think we will need more posts about Berlinski in the future.


Jordan said...

Thanks for the link, it certainly made for a thought-provoking 80 minutes.

As for the debate itself, it seemed like each person was attacking a different version of Darwinism or ID. First, a consensual definition of each needed to be laid down so that when someone said “Darwinism” or “intelligent design,” everyone elseknew exactly what they were referring to. Plus, this debate wandered a little too much. What exactly was being debated? Was it which theory (or both) should be taught in high school biology? Was the evidence for ID or macro evolution being contested? Were the philosophical foundations of each being debated? Was the fossil record the main issue? Or was the relationship between science and religion on trial? This needed to be clarified at the outset as all of these issues were touched upon during the debate, and very different views on each of these issues were presupposed by each speaker.

I like some of what Berlinski says, he worded things well and asked some piercing questions, although he needs to lose the distracting smugness (it works against his credibility when his arguments are good) and he needs to stop pretending he sits exactly on the fence. Pure agnosticism is not possible and saying he neither “affirms nor denies” things he is questioned about is useless for the purpose of debate.

Also, I thought the debate maybe hinged a little too much on charisma, humour and public speaking ability. Nobody directly answered all of their questions, which was frustrating.

In all honesty, I wasn’t all that impressed with the defense of ID that was offered. Of the four people defending ID, I think there was only one actual scientist among them, which is embarrassing. The ID supporters were out-gunned and came off looking like just another radical fringe movement. If I was sitting in the audience I doubt that I would’ve been convinced that ID offered a good alternative to Darwinism. But there is good evidence for ID out there and a better defence of it is possible, I believe. Just a few other quick points:

First, it is remarkable how often assertion passes for argument during debates.

Second, this debate was full of straw men attacks on either side.

Third, Darwinists often present evidence for micro evolution and suggest it is evidence for macro evolution.

Fourth, I grow tired of Darwinian evolutionists inquiring as to whether someone believes in creationism or ID primarily because they are a Christian, Jew, etc. It’s odd that they ask this question of others, yet they do not ask it of themselves regarding their own intellectual commitments. Cornelius Van Til put it well: “Shall we say then that in my early life I was conditioned to believe in God, while you were left free to your own judgement as you pleased? But this will hardly do. You know as well as I that every child is conditioned by its environment. You were as thoroughly conditioned not to believe in God as I was to believe in God. So let us not call each other names. If you want to say that belief was poured down my throat, I shall retort by saying that unbelief was poured down your throat.”

Fifth, I often ask myself why there is so much disagreement, so much hostility, so much angry ink spilled over the whole ID/Evolution debate. One answer is that there are deeper issues at stake than just science or the origin of humankind when we discuss ID and evolution. There are worldview and ethical implications at stake. What if scientific evidence suggests there is a God? That would lead us to ask, ‘Then what might this God be like?’ ‘How should we respond to Him?’ ‘How do we tell what we then ought to do and what we ought not to do?’, etc. It is a slippery slope from evidence for ID to belief in God, one which, I suppose, most naturalists are not willing to venture out on, lest they find Someone challenging their naturalism.

In the end, this debate brought up some good points but I was left a little dissatisfied by the defence of ID given. I am becoming more interested in the debate between ID and theistic evolution, though. Perhaps you could post something about that in the future? Thanks (and sorry if this comment was too long-winded).

P.S. In any case, Philosophy of Science is shaping up to be an interesting course next semester!

Carmelo said...

I find Berlinski persuasive in how he is able to point out the shaky philosophical grounds on which Darwinism is based; what evolutionists do not like to admit is how their "faith" in Darwinian evolution is often itself blind, lacking in any persuasive syllogistic content.

I have to wonder if they are deliberately painting the issue as science vs. religion in an attempt to escape this dilemma. Berlinski in the film Expelled, points out how many of these scientists refuse to admit how often Darwinism fails acid tests of veridicality (a philosophical term), which is why his "use of rhetoric" proved objectionable to Prof. Ruse.