Thursday, October 06, 2005

Add "confused" to "ignorant, stupid, or insane"

I had missed it until today, but an opinion piece in Sunday's Boston Globe by Jeff Jacoby prompted me to write my first letter to the editor. It was probably sent too late after the piece to be published, but it reads:

Mr. Jacoby's opinion piece of October 2 regarding intelligent design displays such a confusion of ideas about the nature of science that in responding one hardly knows where to begin. Perhaps it is sufficient to respond to his statement that "Darwinian fundamentalists fight to keep the evidence of intelligent design in the diversity of life on earth out of the classroom, because that would be at odds with a strictly materialist view of the world". To state simply, there is no credible, scientific evidence of intelligent design. There is no "evidence" to keep out of the classroom. What modern scientists want to keep out of the science classroom is religion masquerading as science. By saying that intelligent design conflicts with a materialist view of the world Mr. Jacoby is implicitly saying that intelligent design is not science, but deals with what is, by definition, super-natural. Science is a materialist view of the world and looks for natural explanations of natural phenomena. Anything else doesn't belong in a science classroom or deserves to be called science.

The piece was such a confused piece of thinking that finding a coherent argument to rebut was difficult. The last paragraph of his column is a prime example; note the first and last sentences. (The bold is mine)

In truth, intelligent design isn't a scientific theory but a restatement of a timeless argument: that the regularity and laws of the natural world imply a higher intelligence -- God, most people would say -- responsible for its design. Intelligent design doesn't argue that evidence of design ends all questions or disproves Darwin. It doesn't make a religious claim. It does say that when such evidence appears, researchers should take it into account, and that the weaknesses in Darwinian theory should be acknowledged as forthrightly as the strengths. That isn't primitivism or Bible-thumping or flying spaghetti. It's science.


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