I’ve been tracking the instigation of the Intelligent Design crowd in their play for attention in Dover v. Kitzmiller. The battle for the hearts and minds of impressionable high school science students seems to me to be no more than this given how etched the so-called “Wedge Strategy” is at the leading edge of the long-standing historical movement to replace science with a nonsensical magical pseudoscience. It does a disservice to religion to suggest scientific explanation should be replaced by mythic explanation.

But even if this category error leaps out of the fray, it is notable that the ID brethren nowadays believe scientific methodology might be usurped simply because school boards can vote on what constitutes scientific method, and, do so through appealing to academic freedom, or, ‘studying all the sides’. Silly…

(The controversy is a red herring. The matter is settled both as a matter of the status of biological knowledge, and, the ill status of the already ruined explanatory program and ‘metaphysics’ of Intelligent Design.)

What is interesting lies in the other direction, away from science.

In this direction there is the perennial problem of foundationalistic presumptions levied against the apparently threatening ideas associated with religions, human beliefs and meaning making, being nothing more than human created artifice, aspects of culture. Then there is the cultural critique. Randomness underlies evolution; evolution is science; so:

science supports relativism,
relativism supports nihilism;
nihilism supports man being the only measure of man;
man being the only measure of man supports anything goes.

‘Religion’ can also be substituted for ‘science’ in this abject formula–too many in conflict relative to each other. Darnit.

Yet, foundationalism(s) are of two broad types: absolute or tentative-hypothetical. In this other direction also lay conundrums much more fascinating than any having to do with analytic posits, (e.g. where explanation is lacking the supernatural explanation is self-evident and certain; basically the posit of ID,) because there is the evidence of many religions, many myths, many notions about foundations, many possibilities of either artifice or divine ‘design’ eminating from ‘world(s) behind the world’. …Many, many, many…entangled.

The Intelligent Design community is silent on this entire range of problems. They are Christian foundationalists of the absolute kind and they offer today a brand that is primitive as such brands go.

Because it is primitive, the intriguing questions for me have to do with cognitive complexity and the psychology having to do with why it is religious belief sometimes converges so completely on the nonsensical. Of course people are entitled to believe in nonsense. But, aside from the stormy furies of the evolution (non)controversy, it’s the profusion of questions begged about belief in magical a priori foundations which don’t get mentioned–even if they are begged.

In the public discourse the analysis psychology (and anthropology, sociology,) of religion provides for, is itself unmentionable. Ponder that. Religion is well studied, but…

The simple argument against Intelligent Design is that it is irrational: its defective propositions can’t be reasonably operationalized either in the frame of reference of explanation of biological phenomena, or in the frame of reference of cognitively complex religion and human belief.

This isn’t surprising for those analytic arguments, most unmentionable, exist on the rational side of the fault line and within disciplines which don’t have any interest in currying favor or attention with belief systems funded in unsubstantiated superstitions, no matter where they pop up! The problem of how irrationality might be fruitfully extended into domains for which rationality is more parsimonious, wholly reasonable, rigorously logical, becomes ironic when one floats the thought problems which suggest a ‘designer’ him or herself wants it both ways; thus is a trickster par excellence, and, furthermore, can’t be said to have designed either artificer or a worldly world backgrounded by divine cosmos, so that this all might be perfectly worked out. …what a joker God(s) is/are at this superficial level.

Meanwhile, theocratic education isn’t very likely to be democratically implemented. Democracy is divergent and complex and theocracy is convergent and simplistic, (as is, almost always, irrationality). It is clear that the most integral and complex worldview about religious beliefs on the magical side, that there was created by this designer the pleromatic cosmos of all religions, that these religions in total describe a universal, foundational transcendent unity of possibilities of belief, can be seen to be much more threatening to what is ultimately the odd entanglement of Christian fundamentalism with its worst enemy, relativism of competing absolutisms and nihilism.

In other words, it is a given that the irrational ‘re-cognition’ of design(er) is, finally, reflexive, and, that the motive of will cannot justify more than the personal belief about, faith put in, one foundation pulled out of the flux of all variants in the anything goes mythic reductions to the glorious self-referential foundational so-called facts. This phenomenal actuality, (likely evoked out of mysterious psyche and/or naturalistic psychology,) is in the convenient form: “that, my goodness, what I happen to believe in happens to be the single correct fact of the matter”. This is self-satisfying and self-serving, even if it is irrational and also is unfortunately dismissive of what are truly profound features of religion, be religion artifactual or divine pleromatic science. Religion and human religiosity and spirituality is obviously plural in any case.

There remains the implicit appeal to a foundationlistic morality in the ID argument. Although I tend to view Nietzche as taking care of this, I also am a Jamesian and a pragmatist by way of certain personal prejudices, so I would stake out a third position and favor a robust naturalistic morality born of human self and collective interests. Moralities exist, they are reasonably effective, they pose accepted constraints on behavior, and, so, the pragmatic concern is with the explication of truth-in-action, and, the experiential valuation of values.

Nevertheless, even in the foundationalistic world view there is no account made of how it is even the religiously imbued person picks and chooses moral actions, sometimes opting for heinous crusade and barbarity. Except, the absolutist elevates the self-serving circular irrationality, the same formula that encumbers the argument ‘against’ science, modernity, countercultures, (etc.). Science may reprise the original apple feast and it may be sinful knowledge-making, but, just as it is with biology, the more interesting questions are cast in the opposite direction, toward the conception of religious ‘fitness,’ if you will. That survival of the materially well-adapted has become a Christian principle in some self-absorbed circles of Christianity (against which stands the ethics of Jesus,) is about as nihilistic and post-modern result as can be imagined.

So You Want to be an Anti-Darwinian Varieties of Opposition to Darwinism |
John Wilkins
An Index to Creationist Claims edited by Mark Isaak

What is Creationism? by Mark Isaak

Creationist_claims Evolve Wiki

Panda’s Thumb

Evolution project

Good example of dodgy intellection on the ID side; about Karl Popper

sound response

Google search for all
things Creationsit/Intelligent Design
(acres of sludge to investigate)

The ‘preeminent’ philosopher of Intelligent Design, Phillip Johnson:

“We once knew who the true God was and were able to proclaim it frankly. But since about 1960 we’ve been hiding from that. We’ve been trying to pretend that all religions are the same.”

York County’s The York Dispatch maintains a page for their local coverage of the trial.

ACLU’s page on litigation vis a vis creationism in science classrooms

Kitzmiller v. Dover Trial Transcipts extremely entertaining, especially day 6

1 Comment

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  1. Creationism, as one Kansas educator recently put it, “is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo.”

    I can lively, intellectual debate between two comparable schools of thought in which there is either empirical evidence supporting both sides or a paucity of empirical evidence.

    But you can’t tell me that the playing field is level between the Evolution folks and the Creationism philistines.

    Btw, thanks for the blogroll. It’s an honor to be included in this company.

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