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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Do Intelligent Design advocates publish scientific articles?

The Panda's Thumb is producing an in-depth, chapter by chapter criticism, almost entirely negative, of a new book by Jonathan Wells, entitled The Politically Correct Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Wells is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, the most important organization which advocates Intelligent Design (ID). The Panda's Thumb is the most important anti-ID blog. The fact that it's so anti- must be taken into account. However, whenever I have checked their facts, they have been correct. I'd like to muse about two of these postings.

One post analyzes the claim (which I have seen made by ID advocates) "ID can't be published because editors of refereed* journals won't accept articles supporting it, and ID can't be accepted as science because it can't be published." The analysis presents evidence falsifying that claim. Apparently there has been little or no recent scientific work supporting ID. I checked on one of the related claims of the Panda's Thumb post, namely that a journal apparently intended as a vehicle for publishing ID has not published regularly. That claim is correct. That journal, Progress in Complexity, Information and Design, has William Dembski, one of the leading theoreticians of the ID movement, as editor, and the description on its web page suggests that it is designed to be a vehicle for publishing articles on ID. The last issue has a date of July, 2005, and although the website of the periodical says that it is a quarterly, only one issue was published in 2004, and one in 2005. Apparently there aren't very many people working on research in the area, or they haven't found much that is publishable.

It is my own believe that ID is not mainly scientific, but philosophic. It does have theological overtones, as well. This doesn't make it wrong, but makes it difficult or impossible to prove (or disprove) by experiment.

In a later post from the Panda's Thumb, on the same book, it is stated that Wells is a follower of Sun Myung Moon, hence not a traditional Christian. The Wikipedia article on Wells backs that up. (The Wikipedia is not infallible, but anyone can contribute to it, and articles can be disputed. The article on Wells isn't under dispute.) Although it is sometimes claimed that ID is not religious in nature, there are many of its supporters who think that it is related to Christianity. (For example, see this page, by the Florida Baptist Witness, which features several articles on the subject.)

Thanks for reading.

*A refereed journal is one that uses not only an editor, but anonymous (to the author) referees to evaluate a submission before it is published. Referees are supposed to be persons who have done research closely related to the submission. They may suggest changes, or suggest that an article is not worth publishing. Usually at least two referees are used. In science, and probably in other fields, publications in periodicals that are refereed are considered to be the most credible.


Ed Darrell said...

Martin, your inherent fairness on these issues amazes me.

Martin LaBar said...

Well, thanks, Ed. I try. I'm convinced that that's the only way to go, especially for those of us who claim the name of Christ.