Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Discovering Devolution: Blogging Scopes II

Panda's Thumb is blogging the Dover case, with many links and resources. I had actual work to do today so I haven't had time to review them. However, among the links they offer are blogs covering the case, one from the ACLU and another from the Discovery Institute.

As an aside, over the last few weeks I've been reading some blogs from the ID camp, most notably William Dembski's Uncommon Descent. I've also trudged through two of Dembski's most recent papers which purport to provide the mathematical foundations of the design argument. I'll have more to say on that later (IMNFNKY - this is not like other times when I've said I'll post something and then forgotten about it). However, one thing bears mention. This debate is basically futile - it can't really be called a debate - for one simple reason. The two sides have fundamentally different assumptions about what constitutes good science.

I'll try to keep the explanation of this dichotomy simple. The evolution side - on which I am firmly planted - believes you start with a question, and answer it via well defined procedures of inference from examination of available physical evidence. The ID side believes you start with a question and a desired conclusion and devise schemes which interpret the available evidence to suit that conclusion. In this case the question is "how did complex organisms come to be", and the ID side already knows the answer - "not evolution." The ID side has been forthcoming on this, but the evolution side has generally attempted to argue as if this dichotomy doesn't exist. The real debate lies in these conflicting views of science, not in the technical details, because you can't debate the details without agreeing on the fundamentals.

My personal reaction to the ID way of doing things is complete horror. As I've written several times before, there is no scientific utility in their approach, but there are cultural and political ramifications which are far too gruesome to contemplate.

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