Presupposition versus Precommitment and the Hypocritical Demonization of Creationism

Last night I was listening to Air America radio (for those of you outside the United States, Air America is the liberal radio network), and I was struck by a call from Dave of New Mexico (I am sure it was Dave Thomas, President of the propagandist New Mexicans for Science and Reason) wherein he re-iterated his tired claim that Intelligent Design is creationism in disguise. Of course the host, being a typical secular humanist host on that station, couldn't agree fast enough. There was, of course, no counter-balancing opinion to stand up for ID as a science, and so the unlearned assertions went unchallenged.

Of course, I have heard it before: the nearly-unanimous belief among non-Christians that the theory of Intelligent Design (ID) is creationism in disguise. This shows a misunderstanding of ID.

Creationism approaches science with a pre-commitment to a literal understanding of the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis, and seeks to understand or characterize scientific discoveries consistent with that pre-commitment. ID, on the other hand, begins with the scientific evidence and using accepted scientific principles established in such fields as archaeology and cryptography asks the questions: is what we see solely the result of natural processes? When the evidence presents complexity that cannot be reconciled with random selection and mutation, shouldn’t a scientist be able to consider the possibility of design?

The ID opponents attempt to demonize creationism for its pre-commitment without recognizing or acknowledging their own. Darwinian evolution begins with a pre-supposition that all biological diversity is the result of purely naturalistic processes. This presupposition, which cannot be proven by scientific tests, has become a pre-commitment to naturalistic origins. It is this pre-commitment that ID challenges when it argues that the complexity found in biological systems cannot be the result of purely naturalistic processes. Rather, the evidence, when viewed without this pre-commitment, points to a designer, the "who or what" of which is not within the scope of science.

You see, the real question in this debate is the following: in their understandable effort to find naturalistic answers to scientific questions, should scientists preemptively exclude the possibility of non-naturalistic explanations even if those explanations have scientific support? In other words, should we insist on naturalistic explanations at the possible expense of the truth?

Those in the anti-ID camp who engage in the informal logical fallacy of guilt by association by grouping ID with creationism do so without recognizing their own pre-commitment. You see, if what those who advocate creationism do is considered not scientific because of their pre-commitment to creation, then how is evolution any more scientific when it has a pre-commitment to philosophical naturalism?

ID is not a "God of the gaps" theory, and a growing number of respected scientists believe that ID raises real questions about evolution—a theory which almost thirty scientist with Ph.D.s recently called "a theory in crisis" in a friend of the court brief filed in the Cobb County textbook sticker case.

Like it or not, the debate is being joined. The efforts by certain people to prevent ID’s arguments from being heard constitute obstructionism, pure and simple.


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