The status of ID from the Science & Religion community.

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On my desk I have a copy of the Encyclopedia of Science and Religion (Wentzel Van Huyssteen ed., 2003), a very useful reference work on the interfaces between science and religion. I’ve been flicking through it on and off over the past few weeks. Contributers include Francisco Ayala, Ian Barbour, John D. Barrow, John Hedley Brooke, George Coyne, Ted Davis, Bill Grassie, John Haught, David Knight, Simon Conway Morris, Nancy Murphy, Ted Peters, John Polkinghorne, Philip Quinn, Holmes Rolston, Howard van Till, and Keith Ward. Quite an all-star cast. As many readers will know, these individuals - and the majority within the science & religion community - are very much sympathetic to theological arguments in an age of science. The volumes 1070 pages offer a good overview of the interactions between science and religion and can be considered a good place to begin any research into this area. With that in mind, let’s look at how ID appears within the volume.

Read on at Stranger Fruit

12 Comments

that’s some good stuff.

William Demski’s argument will return shortly. It is currently experiencing technical difficulties.

That Dembski is ignored or maligned by real Information Theorists was hinted at last year, when that Info Theory grad student from Berkeley asked PT for a reference for that “Isaac Newton of Info Theory” quote so he could share it with his friends and have a big laugh.

Mathematics is one of the few disciplines in which even an obscure individual can change everything by publishing a single paper. Although Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theorem didn’t make a huge initial splash, it was a for-real theorem with an incontrovertable proof and couldn’t be ignored. The math folks dutifully acknowledged its validity and importance even though for many of them (Hilbert, the Vienna Positivists, etc.) it was very bad news. If Dembski had made a comparable breakthrough, things would have certainly played out very differently than they have, i.e. Dembski wouldn’t be pursuing a second career as a theologian/movement PR guy. As it is, he’s like a minor TV star doomed to spend the rest of his life opening strip malls.

 Clearly, the hypothesis that our human awareness of something beyond nature is explained by the evolution of transcendent psychological mechanisms adapted to novel hominid social arrangements is speculative and warrants further investigation. But just as obvious is the conclusion that this type of hypothesis will impact all social science and provide the impetus for a wide range of academic work. It establishes religious activity as biologically, as well as intellectually and emotionally, motivated. Intellectual and emotional responses are mental and behavioral consequences of evolved psychological mechanisms. They vary in degree among individuals, but not in kind. The variety of religious expression derives from individuals in groups constructing methods to activate and use psychological programs within historical, social, and natural contingencies.

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Evol[…]8Zimmer.html

Not all christians want to stick their heads in the sand. Although this is a bit of a great attractor kind of idea it’s a few rungs up the ladder from Dembski.

Jim Harrison Wrote:

Although Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theorem didn’t make a huge initial splash, it was a for-real theorem with an incontrovertable proof and couldn’t be ignored. The math folks dutifully acknowledged its validity and importance even though for many of them (Hilbert, the Vienna Positivists, etc.) it was very bad news.

Ditto on Georg Cantor’s musings on set theory, wherein the strange properties of infinite cardinals were explored (among other things). I would agree that if Dembski were making a profound discovery here, we would be hearing a bit more about the “Newton of Information Theory”. I can’t help thinking of Stephen Wolfram, although I must admit I have yet to complete his massive tome.

Wolfram is not a comparable case. Although he has made real contributions to math and science and his Mathematica software is a monumental achievement in itself, Wolfram doesn’t have an earthshattering theorem in hand, which is why he put out a huge book appealing to nonprofessionals.

“Isaac Newton of Info Theory”

Are you sure that isn’t Isaac’s brother, Fig?

bwahahahaha! I love it! The Fig Newton of Information Theory: Complex? Check. Specified? Oh, you betcha. And m-mm, dee-licious.

ok, that’s indelible. just as Allah is invariably followed by (PBTTL) in muslim literature, I will never again see the word Dembski without adding (FNOIT)

Oh please, Wolfram is not Dembski. Wolfram’s a recognized genius who yes, has acted a bit like a crank lately, but his accomplishments in closely related fields are unimpeachable. He has a real set of hypotheses, and probably some evidence in the Textile Cone Shell. Dembski has nothing, and lies and dissembles. There’s only the weakest of comparisons between them.

BTW, i haven’t finished the thing either. But it is an impressively-published book, that’s for sure.

CJ Wrote:

bwahahahaha! I love it! The Fig Newton of Information Theory: Complex? Check. Specified? Oh, you betcha. And m-mm, dee-licious.

I know it’s not “clever beyond measure” like switching up a vowel would be, but I do what i can with what I have.

Translation: The world’s experts on bridges between science and theology say that ID isn’t one.

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This page contains a single entry by John M. Lynch published on May 27, 2005 12:18 PM.

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