Saturday, May 23, 2009
Socrates: Is Intelligent Design Science?
In a recent ID the Future podcast, host Casey Luskin interviewed philosophy student James Hoskins regarding a fictitious dialogue he wrote between Socrates and a created skeptic named Hector Dawkins.
"My latest fantasy involves Socrates questioning the archetype of the philosophical materialist, whom I will call Hector Dawkins, on the definition of science and the justification of Guillermo Gonzalez’ tenure denial from Iowa State University." 
This is an utterly fascinating dialogue that deals with questions such as:
1. What is science?
2. Is Intelligent Design(ID) science?
3. Is ID a religion or religiously motivated?
4. What is the relationship between science and philosophy?
Here is a short preview:
I would say that Science is the search for truth.
Ah, now we’re getting somewhere! And how does the definition you just gave exclude Intelligent Design theory?
Well, because ID posits a Creator God, therefore it is religion, not science.
You are mistaken. Intelligent Design theory does not mention a God of any sort. It simply concludes that certain aspects of the universe are better explained as the product of intelligence, rather than chance and necessity.
Socrates, have you been duped by the ID proponents? If you looked into it at all, you would see that the overwhelming majority of ID-ists are Christians. They are being dishonest when they say they are not promoting religion.
Interesting. Hector, you are an atheist and also an advocate of Darwinian evolution. So, when you teach Evolution are you promoting atheism?...
Science is the search for causes. It can only deal with natural things. Intelligent Design posits a God, which by definition is outside nature and therefore outside science.
Intelligent Design also searches for causes. It simply concludes that some causes are intelligent. Again, ID, the theory, does not posit a God. It simply posits intelligence and the intelligence is not necessarily outside nature.
Oh, give me a break! An ‘intelligence’ that designed life or the universe? Everyone knows that means God!
So you are rejecting Intelligent Design theory not because it is unscientific, but because it has theistic implications?
No, no, that’s not right. It’s not science. Science must be restricted to methodological naturalism. ID falls outside that boundary.
Well, then Science cannot also be the search for truth. If Science is restricted to methodological naturalism then a more accurate definition would be: Science is the search for exclusively materialistic theories of the world. That is much more narrow and agenda driven than simply “the search for truth.”
No, I still believe that Science is the search for truth, I’m just having trouble explaining how ID is unscientific.
Perhaps you are having trouble because ID is in fact a valid scientific theory, regardless of whether it is true or not. The problem is that you are trying to reject it a priori. It cannot be done, except by arbitrary and dogmatic means. If you want to reject ID you must engage its arguments and falsify it empirically, not avoid the debate entirely. 
No matter what your worldview is, I highly recommend this piece. It is an outstanding read!
Check out the PDF here.
Also, Part II of this literary debate, entitled, "Are ID proponents liars?," can be viewed here.
Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross
1. A Debate Between Socrates and Hector Dawkins by James Hoskins
2. James Hoskins, On the Definition of Science: A debate between Socrates and Hector Dawkins, http://www.arn.org/_idarts/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/on-the-definition-of-science-by-james-hoskins.pdf