More on Gilder, and Kansas

Nick’s thread yesterday about George Gilder of the DI has stimulated a response on the DI’s Evolution News and Views site, by Rob Crowther, in which Gilder responds to what the Crowther says is a quote taken out of context.

Crowther’s article begins,

A Darwinist blog is trumpeting a quote by George Gilder in yesterday’s Boston Globe which they have taken out of context in an attempt to make him look bad.

“Intelligent design itself does not have any content.”

First, it would be helpful to see the quote in context of what was being discussed, namely Discovery Institute’s position on education policy.

“I’m not pushing to have [ID] taught as an ‘alternative’ to Darwin, and neither are they,” he says in response to one question about Discovery’s agenda. “What’s being pushed is to have Darwinism critiqued, to teach there’s a controversy. Intelligent design itself does not have any content.”

I understood what Gilder was driving at, but decided to ask him to clarify the statement, which he has done…

Well, that doesn’t help the situation much, it seems to me. But before going on to tell you what Gilder had to say in clarification, let me point out how this discussion is quite relevant to what is going on in Kansas.

In Kansas, all the IDists (including Calvert, the Intelligent Design Minority on the writing committee, the hearings witnesses, and the state BOE) have continually claimed that they don’t want ID or creationism taught — they just want to teach evolution more “objectively” by teaching both its strengths and weaknesses.

Our response to this has been what is well-stated in this small piece that Keith Miller wrote, and that we included in Pedro’s closing argument:

Intelligent Design proponents offer nothing to the scientific community upon which a scientific program can be developed. They don’t even have clearly defined definitions of critical terms that can be understood and applied by others. For example they have provided no objective basis upon which others can apply concepts such as irreducible complexity” or “specific complexity.”

They focus on critiques of evolutionary theory that either attack strawman views of evolution, misrepresent current science, or are simply based on flawed reasoning. They also point to areas of frontier science in which the scientific community is yet to reach a consensus. None of this constitutes any challenge to the predictive and explanatory power of evolutionary theory.

In short, with regard to Intelligent Design, there is no “there” there. There simply is no theory of Intelligent Design or anything approaching it. Intelligent Design is not used in scientific research, even by its primary proponents. All Intelligent Design is a series of failed and rejected criticisms of evolutionary theory.

That last sentence, in bold, pretty much sums it up. Therefore our argument to the state BOE is that by including all these criticisms of evolution in the science standards (criticisms that are found only in the ID / creationist literature and not in mainstream science), they are teaching ID, because that is all ID is.

Now, back to Gilder.

In his clarification to Crowther, Gilder is kind enough to make our point for us, as Gilder is quoted by Crowther as saying:

My point was that intelligent design does not answer the question of the source of the design. Use of the term points the argument toward what we don’t know scientifically and probably cannot know (the designer or intelligent force in the Universe) rather than toward what we do know: the flaws in the materialist Darwinian model.

So there you go. ID doesn’t, and probably can’t, scientifically know anything about the source of the design. ID can’t actually have any content. All ID can do is point to the “the flaws in the materialist Darwinian model”: i.e., those “failed and rejected criticisms of evolutionary theory” of which Keith speaks.

So thanks to Gilder for confirming our position! In respect to ID itself, there is no “there” there.