Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Yes . . . But Is It Science?

The biology faculty at Lehigh University made this statement about ID and science:
The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.

The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of
“intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.

This is certainly a more balanced and respectful statement than the one the Avalos 120 put forth at Iowa State. Having said this, I find the last sentence to be noteworthy for several reasons.

First, I enjoy the irony: this statement itself is not "scientific." This is pure philosophy and the defining of terms a priori. They have every right to make this statement and believe it, but the statement itself is not "science" either.

Second, do they really want to say that ID has no basis in science? Is it helpful to make such a blanket statement that something is not "science"? Is science an on/off switch, and everything either is science or is not science? This is a good example of compartmentalism, which, I believe, is grossly simplistic. Intelligent Design clearly implicates other subject areas, including philosophy of science, but it is based on scientific facts. To say that it is in no way scientific seems obviously false and serves only to mislead.

Once again, scientists have overstated their case, and, as a result, lose credibility.


At September 06, 2005 11:46 AM, Anonymous Tom Gilson said...

Yes, this is better than Iowa State. Still, I predict this will come back and bite them. It will not always be possible to maintain the fiction that ID has no experimental basis or that its standing as a science is so weak. Then what will they say?


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