Thursday, December 01, 2005

So Who Exactly is the Angry Fundamentalist?

Here is an example of the anger and irrational arguments against Intelligent Design Theory:

TOPEKA, Kan. - A University of Kansas course devoted to debunking creationism and intelligent design has been canceled after the professor who planned to teach it caused a furor by sending an e-mail mocking Christian fundamentalists. Twenty-five students had enrolled in the course, originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies," which had been scheduled for the spring. Professor Paul Mirecki, chairman of religious studies, canceled the class Wednesday, the university said.

Mirecki recently sent an e-mail to members of a student organization in which he referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course depicting intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face."

I'm not so sure it would be enjoyable to study religion under Professor Mirecki:) He seems to have signifcant biases towards certain religious expression. Whatever happened to tolerance in higher education anyway? I thought we had become more enlightened than this. He also seems to have a poor grasp on what intelligent design theory is. ID proponents are not arguing for a certain religious viewpoint. They are simply doing objective science. And in examining the evidence they have recognized the presence of complex design, which the theory of evolution by random selection does not sufficiently explain.

It shows a deep misunderstanding of the issues to call Intelligent Design a religious mythology. For a more reasonable explanation of Intelligent Design than that given by Dr. Mirecki, check out I'm pretty sure it is not run by "fundie fat faces." But even if it is, it still makes sense.


Keith said...

Mark, unlike you I am not done with classes for the semester and I suppose I should be working on a paper now, but instead I figure I will try and spark some interesting discussion with a few quotes, a question, and some comments.

A couple of quotes from you:
"It is interesting how they attack some religious worldview ID scientists supposedly have, while ignoring their own philosophical assumptions."

"They (ID) are simply doing objective science."

What does it mean that ID is just doing "objective" science (second quote)? The first quote seems to imply that everybody does science with philosophical assumptions.

Now an observation that I just throw out there for the sake of discussion. Christians often respond to secular critics by saying that they are saying we are biased all the while ignoring their own philosophical bias. But usually nothing else follows this up. What happens at this point? Is there no way of adjucating presuppositions? Are we inadvertantly accepting the incommensurability (sp?) of perspectives and worldviews by taking this approach? Are presuppositions ultimately arbitrary or a leap of faith?

Just a thought. This is what happens when you are working on touching up two research papers at the same time that both deal with epistemology.

Mark said...

by "objective science," I mean that they are observing evidence and coming to conclusions. They are detecting design within different systems and coming to logical conclusions based on that evidence. Of course their presuppositions play a part in their science. For someone to advocate Intelligent Design they must have a worldview that will allow for the possibility of a designer. But it is clear that many modern scientists have presuppositions that rule out the possibility of anything other than the material world.

I will have to think on your questions. I was just trying to make the point that many critics are trying to make it out like all ID scientists are Christian Theists, and that their conclusions are just an outgrowth of their faith. That is simply not the case. Many of the ID guys are not Christians, or religious at all. They are advocating ID theory because they have followed scientific method, and it has led to the conclusion that there is intelligent design.

One thought, on your questions. I think there is at least one way we can follow up our pointing out that both sides have presuppositions. We can demonstrate that your presuppositions are rational, doing so by demonstrating the lack of contradiction in them, and the consistency of the worldview that flows from them. I think that's a part of it. Of course, the flip side is to demonstrate the inconsistency of the other side's worldview with their own presuppositions. For example, the inconsistency of a person who believes the universe is the result of random chance, trusting his own thoughts at all. Well, I haven't eaten yet today, so I'd better go. Good luck on your papers.

Keith said...

Yeah, I understood the thrust of your points and I wasn't necessarily disagreeing. I was only suggesting that typical Christian responses to secular scientists often have many implicit questions lurking in the vicinity.

There are a lot of other questions that could be raised, but I don't have much time now. I will probably write more when the semester is over for me. Just a couple of thoughts...

You wrote:
"by "objective science," I mean that they are observing evidence and coming to conclusions."

What about this makes it "objective"? Are you saying that only evidence is effecting the conclusions? It is objective because it is a straight move from evidence to conclusions unaffected by presuppositions or worldview. But you go on to deny this is the case, so what does it mean to say that they are doing "objective" science?

In a later paragraph you mention scientific method that ID follows and so maybe that is why it is objective. But many people suggest that data underdetermines hypotheses selection and so scientific method isn't totally objective.

As far as presuppositions go it does seem like coherence is a necessary way of evaluating them but it doesn't seem to be sufficient since it seems to me that one could construct a coherent perspective but one that has no touch with reality.

I am sure you have more constructive things to do with your time than me so you may want to let this topic go. Have fun on Christmas break! :)

Mark said...

Good thoughts, and questions. I'd appreciate hearing some of your answers to your own questions after you get done with the semester.

Thanks for giving me an easy out, and letting me down easy:). I like the phrase, "more constructive things to do with your time," more than the alternative, "it is obvious you have no idea how to answer my questions in an intelligent way." You have a great Christmas too. Are you guys heading to CA at all?

Keith said...

It wasn't that I thought you have no idea how to answer my questions in an intelligent way, but rather it was more like "Does anybody really even care about the questions I am raising? I am just plain wierd to actually care about questions like this." :)

Something more along those lines was running through my head.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brother,
I'm more jealous than I can tell you that you're done with finals. All of my teachers are pulling the "we're gonna be nice and not give you a final the week before finals so you don't have much to do during finals week"...nice gesture, but the problem with that is it makes this week (the week before finals) an insane week for me. If you think of me, shoot up a prayer because my homework/papers to write/assignments left to finish list keeps getting longer...and so does the list of meetings and whatnot I have to go to this week as well.
I'm excite to see you and Steph a week and a half, it'll all be over and I'll be anticipating the hour of ya'll's arrival.
Miss you guys and see ya soon!
Sister Robin (ha, sounds like my nun name)