Ted Davis, a historian of science at Messiah College, used to be part of a list I moderate. He has some good insights into the history of science (especially into the work of Robert Boyle), but he consistently misses the mark concerning ID. Here is a nice synopsis of his view of ID (also with a jab at UD). It is written to Pim van Meurs, as a mentor would write to his disciple. The short of his view is that ID is a reaction to the scientific materialism of Richard Dawkins, which it tries to displace by setting up a new science, which is really just a disguised form of religion. His counsel is to rise above the fray and realize that both are ideologically motivated. Ideological motivation is all fine and well, but has ID identified fundamental conceptual flaws and evidential lacunae in the conventional materialistic understanding of biological origins and is its appeal to intelligence conceptually sound and empirically supported? I have yet to see Ted address that question.
From: Ted Davis
Date: Mon Apr 02 2007 – 08:56:27 EDT
For Pim and others,
I can only echo David’s comments about Dawkins, who came across in the interview as a much kinder, gentler person than he does in many of his books and articles. Dawkins simply hates religion, and does think that religious people are either stupid or wicked, if not both. And he has company in this.
I recommend to all, the chapter on the “Council of Despair,” in Karl Giberson & Donald Yerxa, “SPecies of Origins.” It’s a splendid overview of scientific atheism in the past couple of decades. For anyone who doubts that this view really exists and is influential, take a look at “Wired” magazine for Nov 2006, with its cover story on “The New Atheism: No Heaven. No Hell. Just Science.”
Also, Pim, I esp recommend that you step away a bit from PT (which is not much more objective than Dembski’s blog, when it comes right down to it) and realize something very, very important about ID. Philip Johnson was responding to two specific influences, when he wrote “Darwin on Trial.” One, to be sure, was Denton’s book, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis,” but the other one was Dawkins’ “The Blind Watchmaker.” If there were no Dawkins and company, I have little doubt, there would be no Johnson and company as a direct, highly vocal response.
This is something about which the scientific establishment is still somewhat ambivalent, IMO. Some do see what Dawkins is doing in the name of science to be a completely inappropriate extrapolation of science that goes well beyond the sphere and authority of science. But others do not–people like Steven Weinberg, the late Isaac Asimov, the late Carl Sagan, Sam Harris, or Steven Pinker. These are highly influential people, Pim, and it is not surprising to me if they provoke a response in the form of ID. What ID is going goes well beyond science, of course–and they admit this, despite their continued insistence that ID is nevertheless scientific. But Dawkins and company believe in the religion of science (as Dawkins himself as called it), so why not have a science of religion (ID) in response to it? Dawkins’ work goes so far beyond merely debunking ID–which itself is just a big way of debunking his own work. He wants to demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of all traditional religions, using science as his club. The sooner this is understood, and the sooner its link with ID is recognized, the sooner the conversation about science education can move