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Design Disquisitions: Jeffrey Koperski on Two Bad Ways and Two Good Ways to Attack ID (Part 1): Two Bad Ways

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Here’s my new article at Design Disquisitions. Enjoy:

In the next two (potentially three) articles I’ll be taking an in-depth look at an excellent paper written by Jeffrey Koperski, a philosopher of science at Saginaw Valley State University. Koperski has written about ID in several publications (1), which I highly recommend, and he takes a balanced and sensible approach to this topic. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t accept ID, but takes a constructively critical stance, so his work is well worth engaging with.

As one can tell from the title of the paper, Two Bad Ways to Attack Intelligent Design and Two Goods Ones(2)Koperski critically analyses two common criticisms of ID, suggesting that they are highly dubious lines of argument. He then goes on to suggest two better ways of trying to refute design. In this first part, I’ll be taking a look at what he sees as two bad arguments. In the next article I’ll then turn to what he sees as two better arguments, and find out whether or not they withstand scrutiny.

Jeffrey Koperski on Two Bad Ways and Two Good Ways to Attack ID (Part 1): Two Bad Ways

14 Replies to “Design Disquisitions: Jeffrey Koperski on Two Bad Ways and Two Good Ways to Attack ID (Part 1): Two Bad Ways

  1. 1
    rvb8 says:

    Good science can not be done from a motivation of religion, because the religious are constantly looking for the Designer’s handy work.

    Your silly example of Newton does not mean he went to the Bible and read something to motivate his investigation.

    The overt Christianity shown by posters here suggests science can take a back seat to theology. The fact that a text book ‘Of Pandas’, had all the word forms for ‘creation’, replaced with various renditions of ‘Design Proponents’, also suggests deception about motivation is almost as destructive to science as the religiosity of the ‘proponent’.

    It is perfectly acceptable to question a scientists religious motivation in their experimentation, as religious motivation speaks to supernatural reasons; this is not acceptable in science.

    Ken Miller has mentioned that his Catholocism is left at the laboratory door.

    Using enlightenment scientists to argue they used their religion as motivation is impossible to prove, but, let’s face it, highly, highly unlikely. Do they use God as motivation? Who cares? As long as HE doesn’t raise His hoary head in the field, or lab. What we do know for a certainty is that the enlightenment scientist’s discoveries were all material in origin.

    This line of criticism, whereby evidence of pure religious motivation in science is used to smear some religiously motivated scientists will not dissapear. The fact that the religious in places like the egregious ICR or worse Answersingenesis, constantly howl that they too are doing science, merely interpreting the data differently, is a disgraceful abuse of science. Do you seriously wish to be associated with these fine institutions?

  2. 2

    rv, it’s perfectly fitting for you to be so petrified of science and physical reality. In you we have a true and unvarnished representative of the modern anti-intellectual movement. You are emblematic of everything it has going for itself.

  3. 3
    rvb8 says:


    ‘petrified of science and reality.’

    If you read my post you will see that I explain that everything connected to God and religion be removed from the science realm.

    I am in fact petrified that with the way fear is prancing around the world, that people will fall back on the usual trio, God, anti-foreigner, anti-science.

  4. 4

    rv, you are petrified of science, and have demonstrated this clearly on these pages. You are blinded by your hatred and bigotry.

    EDIT: If you’d like to have your aversion to material facts demonstrated again, we can certainly do so.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N, FYI: From my always linked note on Newton’s views in his General Scholium to Principia:

    >>. . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.

    This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler; for God is a relative word, and has a respect to servants; and Deity is the dominion of God not over his own body, as those imagine who fancy God to be the soul of the world, but over servants. The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being, however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of Gods, and Lord of Lords; but we do not say, my Eternal, your Eternal, the Eternal of Israel, the Eternal of Gods; we do not say, my Infinite, or my Perfect: these are titles which have no respect to servants. The word God usually signifies Lord; but every lord is not a God. It is the dominion of a spiritual being which constitutes a God: a true, supreme, or imaginary dominion makes a true, supreme, or imaginary God. And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present; and by existing always and every where, he constitutes duration and space. Since every particle of space is always, and every indivisible moment of duration is every where, certainly the Maker and Lord of all things cannot be never and no where. Every soul that has perception is, though in different times and in different organs of sense and motion, still the same indivisible person. There are given successive parts in duration, co-existent puts in space, but neither the one nor the other in the person of a man, or his thinking principle; and much less can they be found in the thinking substance of God. Every man, so far as he is a thing that has perception, is one and the same man during his whole life, in all and each of his organs of sense. God is the same God, always and every where. He is omnipresent not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him are all things contained and moved [i.e. cites Ac 17, where Paul evidently cites Cleanthes]; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God. It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [i.e accepts the cosmological argument to God.] Whence also he is all similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power to perceive, to understand, and to act; but in a manner not at all human, in a manner not at all corporeal, in a manner utterly unknown to us. As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing. [Cites Exod 20.] We have ideas of his attributes, but what the real substance of any thing is we know not. In bodies, we see only their figures and colours, we hear only the sounds, we touch only their outward surfaces, we smell only the smells, and taste the savours; but their inward substances are not to be known either by our senses, or by any reflex act of our minds: much less, then, have we any idea of the substance of God. We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [That is, implicitly rejects chance, Plato’s third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.] But, by way of allegory, God is said to see, to speak, to laugh, to love, to hate, to desire, to give, to receive, to rejoice, to be angry, to fight, to frame, to work, to build; for all our notions of God are taken from. the ways of mankind by a certain similitude, which, though not perfect, has some likeness, however. And thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy. >>


    PS: As for so called methodological naturalism, first the grotesque strawman caricatures, stereotyping, scapegoating and stalking of ID supporters needs to stop. Those objectors who refuse to acknowledge that these are real issues are enablers. With that set aside the atmosphere can then be cleared enough for us to readily see that the assertion is little more than a question-begging ideological imposition that artificially blocks us from following the course of inductive reasoning. We ourselves demonstrate that intelligent design is not just possible but actual, and only a fool would argue as if we exhaust the sphere of possible designers. Then, on trillions of observed cases, designed objects often have characteristic, observable, reliable features that indicate origin by intelligently directed configuration as opposed to blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Functionally specific, complex organisation and/or information as we see in comments in this thread is a case in point. The problem with the design inference on such FSCO/I is not that it is a weak induction, but that it clearly cuts across where dominant ideologies want to take science and society. So, all sorts of devices have been brought to bear to lock it out. Why? The world of cell based life is chock full of such FSCO/I, starting with the algorithmic TEXT in the DNA of the living cell. As in, smoking gun.

  6. 6
    Origenes says:

    Joshua Gidney: Critics such as Robert Pennock, and in fact most critics, fall back on this objection, alleging that ID violates an essential ground rule of scientific explanation, because it appeals to non-natural concepts like intelligence. It is often claimed that methodological naturalism purifies science by keeping supernatural explanations out of the explanatory toolbox.

    In this thread prof. Swamidass applied his own version of the same tired tactic:
    intelligent design invokes God, which is forbidden by methodological naturalism. Swamidass ignored my appeals that intelligent design does not invoke God and is neutral on the identity of the designer.

    It [naturalistic macroevolution] provides a coherent explanation of Biology (not invoking God, so not violating methodological naturalism).

    In contrast with design, it [naturalistic macroevolution] provides a framework from which to generate new testable hypothesis without “toeing the line” on methodological naturalism. That is why macroevolution works in science.

  7. 7
    Eric Anderson says:

    Joshua, thanks for this post.

    Bad arguments against intelligent design are a dime a dozen.

    I’m looking forward to your next post regarding his two “good arguments”. They should allow us to make a quick assessment of how well he understands intelligent design.

  8. 8
    Joshua G says:


    ”Good science can not be done from a motivation of religion, because the religious are constantly looking for the Designer’s handy work.”

    Well you clearly know nothing about science then. It is an empirical and historical fact that you can do good science with religious motivation. Pretty much all the founding father’s of science had such motivation. Such are the facts.

    “Your silly example of Newton does not mean he went to the Bible and read something to motivate his investigation.”

    Sorry, Newton himself said the contrary. Who are you to tell Newton what his real motivations were. Funnily enough newton wrote more on theology than he did on science. Look where that got him.

    Considering the evidence, it’s a lie to suggest the scientists mentioned didn’t have these motivations, they said it themselves. If a statement from them about such motivations isn’t evidence, then neither can statements by ID proponents be evidence they have theological motivations. Try think a little harder about that one. Which is it? Or you can continue to commit the fallacies mentioned in my article, but that’s up to you.

  9. 9
    Joshua G says:

    Thanks Eric, the next one should be up on Sunday. It’s ending up to be quite detailed, but hopefully helpful.

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    Just the idea that there could exist a good way to attack ID is beyond laughable. A first glance at the intelligent design all around us registers its intelligent source as simulataneously as physical light is registered. A victim of cretinism would register it instantly.

    The atheist has created a truly surreal, Alice in Wonderland, intellectual landscape. But there days are numbered. In fact, all our days are numbered if God doesn’t exist and will not ave us from the car-wreck we have made of this planet.

  11. 11
    rvb8 says:

    What people say, what people witness, what people saw, is a very, and recognisable poor way to get facts. (Don’t rely on Tony Blair’s Biography to let you know what Tony Blair did, or thought.)

    ‘Witnessing’, is inherrantly flawed as people have poorly evolved flawed senses. Get thirteen people in a room to witness a crime and the police will tell you, they get thirteen different accounts.

    Human inaccuracy being the norm scientists go to other sources of evidence. Newton didn’t use the Bible to get his laws on motion, or his optics.

    You say his faith was his inspiration, perhaps, but he sure as hell didn’t use it in his calculations.

    And once again, please stop this historical relatavism. It matters not a jot that in an incredibly religious age, religion was used by religious scientists as a religious motivation.

    The simple fact is that it was ignored in their discoveries. And when the Church lost its strangle hold on life, science, art, music, politics, and the individual, these areas continued to flourish, without the Jesus inspiration; did they not!?

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:


    As has been repeatedly pointed out to you, blanket dismissal of testimony removes any warrant based on observation [and memory], witness, record etc.

    This would lead to collapse of education, management, accounting, courts, commissions of inquiry, history, science and more. Even Mathematics rests on the consensus that competent witnesses have gone through the many chains and sub chains of warrant. Society would collapse in an avalanche of global hyperskepticism.

    Global dismissiveness regarding testimony and linked record is absurd and self-referentially irretrievably incoherent.

    What you are really doing above is implicitly reserving trust for cases you like and targetting those you don’t for the force of hyperskepticism, with the rhetoric just seen as self-referentially abbsurd. That is, you have now exerted an implicit, self-/agenda- serving double standard of warrant. AKA, the fallacy of selective hyperskepticism.

    This multiplies the folly of global hyperskepticism, by that of smuggling in might and manipulation make “right” and “truth” etc, tricks often resorted to by dishonest lawyers and politicians.

    The nihilism involved is blatant.

    Yet again — and as Heine long since warned against.

    You go on to talk dismissively about Newton while refusing to engage his General Scholium, in effect his introduction to Principia 2nd edn. In that introduction — as is also seen in his Opticks Query 31 — he plainly engages in philosophy of our idea of God informed by his particular understanding of the Judaeo-Christian scriptues. He even more directly ties this to his scientific work, indeed this is the in effect introduction. Principia is, of course the single most significant professional level work of modern science, the point of triumph of science as a discipline and socio-cultural movement.

    Your failure to cogently address is diagnostic of your underlying failure to ground, instead you are issuing rhetorically manipulative assertions.

    I suggest, that you stop such, pause and think.

    A good point to begin is with why Newton thought in terms of natural philosophy. He understood himself to be engaging in a philosophically driven investigation of nature, informed by epistemology, logic and metaphysics — three of the roughly half dozen main facets of philosophy. Well founded results then emerge as provisional knowledge, Scientia in Latin; Science per shift to English. As, the Scholium makes plain.

    Going beyond, let us see how he articulated this further in Opticks, Query 31:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    We have somewhat refined our view of induction beyond mere generalisation from particulars, but this is a major step. In fact, it looks very much like the root of school-level summaries of “the” scientific method.

    It is therefore highly significant to note onward, that this query also states:

    Now by the help of [[the laws of motion], all material Things seem to have been composed of the hard and solid Particles above-mention’d, variously associated in the first Creation by the Counsel of an intelligent Agent. For it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it’s unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages . . . .

    And if natural Philosophy in all its Parts, by pursuing this Method, shall at length be perfected, the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will be also enlarged. For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature. ”

    Connexions to the General Scholium are quite obvious, as has already been cited. We see here a direct chain from philosophy of inductive, empirical investigation to grounding of provisional knowledge on empirical basis. This is structured in terms of wholes and parts and inferred dynamics acting. That structure of the cosmos is then traced to intelligent Agency, specifically identified as Creator [in a Judaeo-Christian context]. Blind forces of chance and mechanical necessity are dismissed as impotent. The onward link is made that there are also ordering rules impressed by the same Lord on morally governed creatures. To wit, us.

    All of this, in two pivotal scientific works by the principal father of modern science. One of these is the greatest professional work of modern science, Principia. And, Opticks is itself an impressive work in Newton’s scientific corpus.

    It is quite evident that we have been fed a bill of dubious goods through the revisionism that has been imposed by radical secularists on the history and definition of science and its methods. As well as the even more pernicious myth of secularist progress to enlightened utopia once stranglehold of God, scripture, church and bitter clingers to same, are removed.

    You really, desperately, need to read Plato’s parable of the cave and that of the mutinous ship of state. When you have done such, ponder here on the rise of modern liberty and democracy — yet another field utterly distorted through secularist utopian progress mythology.

    I would suggest that you revise your views.


    PS: Greenleaf, a founder of Harvard Law School in the modern form, and foundational to modern anglophone theory of evidence, says the following in his opening chapter of his justly famous, multi-volume Treatise on Evidence:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction. [–> that is, his focus is on the logic of good support for in principle uncertain conclusions, i.e. in the modern sense, inductive logic and reasoning in real world, momentous contexts with potentially serious consequences.]

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd. [–> the issue of warrant to moral certainty, beyond reasonable doubt; and the contrasted absurdity of selective hyperskepticism.]

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them. [–> moral certainty standard, and this is for the proverbial man in the Clapham bus stop, not some clever determined advocate or skeptic motivated not to see or assent to what is warranted.]

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved. [–> pistis enters; we might as well learn the underlying classical Greek word that addresses the three levers of persuasion, pathos- ethos- logos and its extension to address worldview level warranted faith-commitment and confident trust on good grounding, through the impact of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in C1 as was energised by the 500 key witnesses.]

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind [–> in British usage, the man in the Clapham bus stop], beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal [–> and responsible] test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [= definition of moral certainty as a balanced unprejudiced judgement beyond reasonable, responsible doubt. Obviously, i/l/o wider concerns, while scientific facts as actually observed may meet this standard, scientific explanatory frameworks such as hypotheses, models, laws and theories cannot as they are necessarily provisional and in many cases have had to be materially modified, substantially re-interpreted to the point of implied modification, or outright replaced; so a modicum of prudent caution is warranted in such contexts — explanatory frameworks are empirically reliable so far on various tests, not utterly certain. ] [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Eleven years past, Peterson raised some material points on the rise of modern science in what is now an oldie but goodie. Well worth the clipping, to help us move the matter beyond secularist, progressivist myth-making:

    Without Darwinism, a materialist worldview has no creation story, no way of even purporting to explain how life came about. Materialism without Darwinism is an unbelievable worldview.

    Furthermore, from a materialist perspective, which holds as a matter of faith that God does not exist, any effort to show that life is designed will necessarily be an exercise in falsehood. If one defines the universe as consisting only of material forces, there is no intelligent designer and hence there can be no intelligent design. Materialism thus rules ID out of bounds, and holds it to be false, by definition.

    That is what leads to the emphatic claims that intelligent design is “not science.” ID transgresses the central tenet of materialism. But are materialism and science the same thing? Must all science be based on a view that matter and energy are “all there is,” and that there cannot possibly be an ordering intelligence behind the creation of life, the design of physical laws, and the place of human beings in the cosmos? Will a theistic worldview stop science in its tracks, as some materialists claim, because scientists who accept design will throw up their hands, and refer all explanations to “the will of God”?

    No, no, and no. The attempt to equate science with materialism is a quite recent development, coming chiefly to the fore in the 20th century. Contrary to widespread propaganda, science is not something that arose after the dark, obscurantist forces of religion were defeated by an “enlightened” nontheistic worldview. The facts of history show otherwise.

    IN HIS RECENT BOOK For the Glory of God, Rodney Stark argues “not only that there is no inherent conflict between religion and science, but that Christian theology was essential for the rise of science.” (His italics.) While researching this thesis, Stark found to his surprise that “some of my central arguments have already become the conventional wisdom among historians of science.” He is nevertheless “painfully aware” that most of the arguments about the close connection between Christian belief and the rise of science are “unknown outside narrow scholarly circles,” and that many people believe that it could not possibly be true.

    Sometimes the most obvious facts are the easiest to overlook. Here is one that ought to be stunningly obvious: science as an organized, sustained enterprise arose only once in the history of Earth. Where was that? Although other civilizations have contributed technical achievements or isolated innovations, the invention of science as a cumulative, rigorous, systematic, and ongoing investigation into the laws of nature occurred only in Europe; that is, in the civilization then known as Christendom. Science arose and flourished in a civilization that, at the time, was profoundly and nearly exclusively Christian in its mental outlook.

    There are deep reasons for that, and they are inherent in the Judeo-Christian view of the world which, principally in its Christian manifestation, formed the European mind. As Stark observes, the Christian view depicted God as “a rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being and the universe as his personal creation, thus having a rational, lawful, stable structure, awaiting human comprehension.” That was not true of belief systems elsewhere. A view that the universe is uncreated, has been around forever, and is just “what happens to be” does not suggest that it has fundamental principles that are rational and discoverable. Other belief systems have considered the natural world to be an insoluble mystery, conceived of it as a realm in which multiple, arbitrary gods are at work, or thought of it in animistic terms. None of these views will, or did, give rise to a deep faith that there is a lawful order imparted by a divine creator that can and should be discovered.

    Recent scholarship in the history of science reveals that this commitment to rational, empirical investigation of God’s creation is not simply a product of the “scientific revolution” of the 16th and 17th centuries, but has profound roots going back at least to the High Middle Ages. The development of the university system in medieval times was, of course, almost entirely a product of the Church. Serious students of the period know that this was neither a time of stagnation, nor of repression of inquiry in favor of dogma. Rather, it was a time of great intellectual ferment and discovery, and the universities fostered rational, empirical, systematic inquiry.

    A newly published work by Thomas Woods (How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization) is replete with far more examples of the contributions of medieval scholars than can be mentioned here. But as Woods recounts, one need only look at some of the leading figures in the universities in the 1200s to see that they were already well along in the development of principles of empirical scientific inquiry. Roger Bacon, a Franciscan who taught at Oxford, wrote in Opus Maius:

    Without experiment, nothing can be adequately known. An argument proves theoretically, but does not give the certitude necessary to remove all doubt; nor will the mind repose in the clear view of truth, unless it finds it by way of experiment.

    Albertus Magnus — prodigious scholar, naturalist, teacher of Thomas Aquinas, and member of the Dominican order — affirmed in his De Mineralibus that the purpose of science is “not simply to accept the statements of others, that is, what is narrated by people, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature for themselves.” Another 13th-century figure, Robert Grosseteste, who was chancellor of Oxford and Bishop of Lincoln, has been identified as “the first man ever to write down a complete set of steps for performing a scientific experiment,” according to Woods.

    WHEN THE DISCOVERIES of science exploded in number and importance in the 1500s and 1600s, the connection with Christian belief was again profound. Many of the trailblazing scientists of that period when science came into full bloom were devout Christian believers, and declared that their work was inspired by a desire to explore God’s creation and discover its glories. Perhaps the greatest scientist in history, Sir Isaac Newton, was a fervent Christian who wrote over a million words on theological subjects. Other giants of science and mathematics were similarly devout: Boyle, Descartes, Kepler, Leibniz, Pascal. To avoid relying on what might be isolated examples, Stark analyzed the religious views of the 52 leading scientists from the time of Copernicus until the end of the 17th century. Using a methodology that probably downplayed religious belief, he found that 32 were “devout”; 18 were at least “conventional” in their religious belief; and only two were “skeptics.” More than a quarter were themselves ecclesiastics: “priests, ministers, monks, canons, and the like.”

    Down through the 19th century, many of the leading figures in science were thoroughgoing Christians. A partial list includes Babbage, Dalton, Faraday, Herschel, Joule, Lyell, Maxwell, Mendel, and Thompson (Lord Kelvin). A survey of the most eminent British scientists near the end of the 19th century found that nearly all were members of the established church or affiliated with some other church.

    In short, scientists who were committed Christians include men often considered to be fathers of the fields of astronomy, atomic theory, calculus, chemistry, computers, electricity, genetics, geology, mathematics, and physics. In the late 1990s, a survey found that about 40 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God and an afterlife — a percentage that is basically unchanged since the early 20th century. A listing of eminent 20th-century scientists who were religious believers would be far too voluminous to include here — so let’s not bring coals to Newcastle, but simply note that the list would be large indeed, including Nobel Prize winners.

    Far from being inimical to science, then, the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only belief system that actually produced it. Scientists who (in Boyle’s words) viewed nature as “the immutable workmanship of the omniscient Architect” were the pathfinders who originated the scientific enterprise. The assertion that intelligent design is automatically “not science” because it may support the concept of a creator is a statement of materialist philosophy, not of any intrinsic requirement of science itself.

    The redefinition of science in materialist terms — never wholly successful, but probably now the predominant view — required the confluence of several intellectual currents. The attack on religious belief in general, and Christianity in particular, has been underway for more than two centuries. As an organized intellectual movement it first became manifest with the 18th-century French philosophes, and was given further impetus in Great Britain during that century by the skepticism of Hume.

    Further doubt appeared to be cast on the truth of Christian doctrine by the historically and textually based “higher criticism” of the Bible, beginning in the late 18th century and gaining great attention in the first half of the 19th century. By disputing the time, authorship, inspiration, and accuracy of the Old and New Testaments, these mostly German scholars, such as Eichhorn, De Wette, Semler, Paulus, and David Friedrich Strauss, undermined traditions and interpretations of Scripture that had hitherto often been accepted rather uncritically.

    BUT IT WAS THE AWE-INSPIRING SUCCESS of science itself, nurtured for centuries in a Christian belief system, that caused many to turn to it as the comprehensive source of explanation. With the mighty technology spawned by science in his hands, man could exalt himself, it seemed, and dispense with God. Although Darwin was by no means the sole cause of the apotheosis of materialist science, his theories gave it crucial support. It is perhaps not altogether a coincidence that the year 1882, in which Darwin died, found Nietzsche proclaiming that “God is dead…and we have killed him.”

    The capture of science (in considerable measure) by materialist philosophy was aided by the hasty retreat of many theists. There are those who duck any conflict by declaring that science and religion occupy non-overlapping domains or, to use a current catchphrase, separate “magisteria.” One hears this dichotomy expressed in apothegms such as, “Science asks how; religion asks why.” In this view, science is the domain of hard facts and objective truth. Religion is the realm of subjective belief and faith. Science is publicly verifiable, and is the only kind of truth that can be allowed in the public square. Religion is private, unverifiable, and cannot be permitted to intrude into public affairs, including education. The two magisteria do not conflict, because they never come into contact with each other. To achieve this peace, all the theists have to do is interpret away many of the central beliefs of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    This retreat makes some theists happy, because they can avoid a fight that they feel ill-equipped to win, and can retire to a cozy warren of warm, fuzzy irrelevancy. It also makes materialists happy, because the field has been ceded to them. As ID advocate Phillip Johnson remarks acerbically:

    Politically astute scientific naturalists feel no hostility toward those religious leaders who implicitly accept the key naturalistic doctrine that supernatural powers do not actually affect the course of nature. In fact, many scientific leaders disapprove of aggressive atheists like Richard Dawkins, who seem to be asking for trouble by picking fights with religious people who only want to surrender with dignity.

    But the ID theorists do not go gentle into that good night. That’s what’s different about intelligent design. ID says that the best evidence we have shows that life is the product of a real intelligent agent, actually working in space and time, and that the designer’s hand can be detected, scientifically and mathematically, by what we know about the kinds of things that are produced only by intelligence. It is making scientific claims about the real world. Because it relies on objective fact and scientific reasoning, ID seeks admission to the public square. Rather than retreating to the gaseous realm of the subjective, it challenges the materialist conception of science on its own turf. It thus threatens materialism generally, with all that that entails for morality, law, culture — and even for what it means to be human.

    THOSE WHO NOW OCCUPY the public square will fight to keep possession of it. The advocates of Darwinian materialism believe that they are in possession of The Truth, and are perfectly willing to invoke the power of the state to suppress competing views, as the Dover suit shows.

    Points to ponder, with significant balancing and corrective force.


    PS: As was already highlighted, evo mat is inherently and inescapably self-referentially incoherent, utterly refuting itself. It is necessarily false and cannot stand scrutiny so it dons the holy lab coat and demands to set the rules for science and society alike. Plato, in The Laws Bk X, long since warned on where that heads.

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    Eric Anderson says:

    Joshua G: Let us know when Part 2 is ready! 🙂

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