A piece of mine has been just published in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC’s) excellent Religion and Ethics website.
It provides a larger context for my own theologically positive approach to ID, which I realize is not everyone’s cup of tea.
However, like Gregory Sandstrom, I welcome johnnyb’s intervention, which raises the issue of which companies an ID supporter would invest in (or not). I personally find the choices a bit on the Rorschach side of plausibility — i.e. it tells us more about the beliefs of the proposer. So Eric Holloway is happy to regard ‘gamers’ as ‘human’ in a way that has not been contaminated by the AI ideology of Kurzweil et al., so he doesn’t see their ‘gamer’ status as already inching in the direction of the Singularity. Whatever…
I don’t believe that such neat distinctions can be maintained under close scrutiny. Perhaps Kurzweil has slippery sloped us to a place where we don’t want to be, but attempts to draw a sharp distinction between ‘human’ and ‘artificial’ beg too many questions without further elaboration. There are people — I think of Susan Greenfield, the Oxford chair in neuropharmacology — who believe that gaming is re-wiring people’s brains so as to de-humanize them. I think she’s bonkers, and have said so publicly, but her attitude is emblematic of people who believe that you’ve left humanity even once you become a gamer. So where to draw the line? I don’t think there is a principled line to draw here. Anyone who believes otherwise is bound to kill the ID project with a moralism that comes from somewhere other than ID.
If we’re honest, the anti-ID people are right about one thing: Most ID supporters are really no more than anti-Darwinists in disguise, and would like to banish Darwin simply to allow their own moral and cosmological beliefs free rein. To be sure, these beliefs cover quite a wide spectrum but so far there is little appetite to discuss positive visions of ID, for reasons that range from the perceived privacy of religious belief to the fear of public opprobrium from a wider secular culture. My own view is that what makes ID potentially very exciting is that it puts discussion of God’s nature back in the center of science.