Is ID Dying?
Over the weekend The New York Times published this interesting article, by Laurie Goodstein. After breifly summarizing the recent goings-on in Kansas, Pennsylvania, and the Catholic church, Goddstein writes:
Behind the headlines, however, intelligent design as a field of inquiry is failing to gain the traction its supporters had hoped for. It has gained little support among the academics who should have been its natural allies. And if the intelligent design proponents lose the case in Dover, there could be serious consequences for the movement's credibility.
I would go even further. If the decision in Dover goes against ID, I think that will effectively kill ID as a scientific enterprise. With decisions against them in Cobb County, GA and Dover, PA (assuming those decisions don't get overturned on appeal), few school boards will have the stomach to include the subject in their science classes. And with their prospects of getting ID into science classes reduced to effectively zero, there will be no incentive to maintain the fiction that ID is about producing scientific results.
ID will find itself reduced to the same position as creation science in the late eighties. Once it became clear that the courts weren't buying the subterfuge, creation science prety much stagnated. Nowadays you hear very little about it. In the early eighties creation science was sufficiently menacing that high-powered scholars like Niles Eldredge, Phillip Kitcher and Douglas Futuyma though it worthwhile to write books on the subject. Who would bother doing likewise today?
So it will be with ID. If it fails as a strategy for introducing creationism in the public schools, its usefulness will be gone. ID exists solely for the purpose of creating a constitutionally acceptable form of creationism, after all. Of course, people like William Dembski will continue to peddle their gobbledygook to their handful of admirers, just as representatives of ICR and Answers in Genesis do today. But everyone else will just go back to ignoring them.
The article goes on to describe the chilly reception of ID at many Christian colleges.
P.Z. Myers offers some typically insightful comments in reply:
Really. This is the funniest thing I've read in days. When Baylor and Wheaton dismiss you, when Templeton rejects you, when the major evangelical colleges start backing away from you, maybe it's time to realize that your little Wedge strategy isn't working, and the only thing getting split away from the mainstream is your freaky-weird useless ideology.
John Lynch also wieghs in here:
There you have it. A bunch of people - who had previously funded ID - wanted to give money for research and the ID supporters couldn’t even put together a research proposal. Why? Well ID does not have a positive research proposal merely a definition of design that sees it within the “gaps” of evolutionary explanation.
Meanwhile, William Dembski has offered a whiny little reply to the article here:
I know for a fact that Discovery Institute tried to interest the Templeton Foundation in funding fundamental research on ID that would be publishable in places like PNAS and Journal of Molecular Biology (research that got funded without Templeton support and now has been published in these journals), and the Templeton Foundation cut off discussion before a proposal was even on the table. What has disillusioned Templeton about ID is not that it failed to prove its mettle as science but that it didn’t fit with Templeton’s accommodation of religion to the science of the day and Templeton’s incessant need to curry favor with an academic establishment that by and large thinks religion is passé.
Pro-ID articles in the PNAS and the Journal of Molecular Biology? News to me, and I follow these things pretty closely.
Ed Brayton has a thorough smackdown of Dembski's claims. His conclusion:
Dembski has crossed over a line at this point, I think. I don't think it's any longer possible to maintain that he is merely an ideologue undergoing cognitive dissonance, or that he's just engaging in wishful thinking of the type we are all probably prone to when defending ideas we have a personal stake in. He is now simply lying outright, and he has to know that.