Dr. Sewell’s post below generated a fairly heated debate, but it is not my purpose to address the substance of his claim or his opponents’ responses. Instead, I was fascinated by a couple of the commenters’ calls for “compromise” between the ID camp and the NDE camp.
As a general matter, “compromise” is a very fine thing, and if there were more of it the world would doubtless be a better place. But it seems to me that compromise does not fit in well with the quest for scientific truth. If two mutually exclusive theories purport to explain the same data, one of them may be right and the other one wrong, or they may both be wrong, but no one suggests we should seek a “compromise” between the two theories. Should Copernicus have compromised with Ptolemy? What does it even mean to “compromise” between two mutually exclusive scientific theories? Because compromise is such a fine thing should we continue to employ epicycles for certain aspects of our cosmology even though we know they are false?
In human relations compromise is possible because there is usually a middle ground. When I negotiate a contract, my client might agree to accept less of “X” in exchange for more of “Y” and reach an agreement that does not give him everything he wants, but which he will nevertheless sign, because it is “good enough” and accomplishes his goals.
But science does not work that way. Scientific conclusions rarely run along a continuum. They are discrete functions. Yes/No True/False In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them. Therefore, pleas for “compromise” in the ID/NDE debate don’t make sense to me.