“Intelligent Design” Is Not Science

Just a few points in response to Tom Bethell’s piece about Stephen Meyer:

Meyer’s book is no way comparable with Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos. Nagel’s book is serious, lucid, and splendidly written, while Meyer’s is ponderously dull and chock-full of logical fallacies, elisions, and outright errors. (See John Farrell’s excellent review in National Review for more on this front.) Nagel’s book was published under one of the world’s best university press trade imprints, Oxford UP; Meyer’s, on the other hand, has been brought out by an imprint whose target audience is, for good or ill, so well known that its titles go virtually unreviewed outside the right-of-center press. Where Nagel’s book is a work of popular philosophy, Meyer’s is, or purports to be, one of science.

Which brings me to my other, more important point: Mr. Bethell’s mistaken characterization of the intelligent design project as “Science.” Come now: While scientists go out into the world, observe, and draw conclusions based upon their observations, ID proponents look at other people’s conclusions, disagree with them, and, armed with no evidence whatsoever, offer counter-conclusions of their own. Whatever this is, it certainly isn’t science.

I realize that–though I have never understood why–many Christian theists are squeamish about evolution, but they don’t do themselves any favors when they insist that they are right and 99.9 percent of scientists are wrong. The Roman Catholic Church, in which both Mr. Bethell and I are communicants, has never endorsed such wrongheaded thinking, much less imposed it upon its adherents–for which prudential judgement I thank God.

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