December 15, 2006

Methinks thou doth...oh cripes, has anyone ever protested this much?!

In the interest of honest self-examination I've got a question to ask of myself and, by extension, those who might share my positions on "intelligent design." The question is prompted by that gender-confused ID proponent over at Telic Thoughts, MikeGene. He/she begins a recent post with this,
"Okay, since most critics can only hear "God/religion" when "ID" is spoken or written, things have becomes more complicated in the Post Wedge World. For now it appears that we have at least four types of ID critics."
Now the rest of this post is pretty much just glib, forgettable nonsense of the "there are (x) kinds of people in the world" variety. But the opening sentence, pregnant as it is with bruised sensibilities, is worth taking a moment to consider.

[Let's get a bit of housekeeping out of the way first: We are not in a "Post Wedge World." Although the marketing boys over at the DI wish it were not so, the Wedge is every bit as relevant to the political activity that is the ID movement today as it ever was. When will these guys get it through their heads that no matter how often they decry invocation of the Wedge, as long as their tactics and goals come straight out of that foundational document critics of ID will be justified in calling attention to it.]

Anyway, back to the question at hand: Do I "only hear "God/religion" when "ID" is spoken or written?"

My preliminary answer is an easy, if somewhat coy, No.

Let me explain.

When I hear an archeologist discussing a spear point or arrow head or artifact of some sort, and he says "...and so, the reason we know this is intelligently designed is..." I can honestly say I never think of God or religion. Likewise when I hear a forensic criminologist give his opinion that "This crime was one of intelligent design, it was not a case of accident or negligence..." it simply does not occur to me to connect this statement with theism or deities of any kind. The same logic follows for written cases of similar context.

But of course that kind of intelligent design is not what MG means. He/she means the ID movement. The one that proponents have told us time and again is not about religion at all.

[Which observation reveals an interesting counterpoint: we have scientific disciplines which deal with intelligent design all the time and for some reason they suffer no problem with this unfair conflation with religion. Would this perhaps be because they employ scientific methodology, e.g. hypothesis and testing, and/or because they recognize that central to any hypothesis of intelligent design is a recognition of the need to evidentially establish and understand the designers in question? It is not misdirection or digression for me to deal with intelligent design and "intelligent design" this way in response to MG's assertion. It goes, in fact, exactly to the point of why ID cannot be conceived of apart from religion.]

In any case, the truth is that my answer to the reconsidered question must be: Of course I immediately think of God/religion when I hear "ID." Only if I declined to think rationally in considering all of the available evidence, only if I wore blinders and ignored the very words of ID's most prominent "theorists," and only if I disregarded their pronounced and prolonged arguments in favor of changing the foundational methodology of science to allow for non-natural inference could I even begin to think of ID without religion popping along for the ride. I have been trained to conflate the two by the words and actions of ID proponents.

So, yes, things are complicated in an IDer's world. And it's a bit of complexity that has been somewhat less than intelligently designed. 'bout thoughts of God that time.


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