Atheist philosopher Bradley Monton rebuts “anti-science” claims re ID

Bradley Monton, author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design (Broadview Press, 2009), has this to say about design theory as a legitimate approach to science:

I'll start with Ken Miller's 2008 book Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul. In additon to giving straightforward biology-based criticisms of Behe's irreducible complexity argument … Miller also has a more fundamental critique of intelligent design (the "Battle for America's Soul" part). Miller makes the claim that the intelligent design movement doesn't just want to "win the battle against Darwin"; the intelligent design movement wants to "win the greater war against science itself." This claim that the intelligent design movement is anti-science is quite a strong claim. The way intelligent design proponents typically portray their activity is that they are looking for scientific evidence for the existence of a designer. This may be confused science, but it's not anti-science.

Moreover, some intelligent design proponents, like Behe, are tenured professors in science departments at legitimate academic institutions, who publish standard scientific articles in standard scientific journals. It would greatly surprise me if these people were anti-science.

Perhaps some intelligent design proponents do argue in a way that is anti-science, butt thoe aren't the most intellectually respectable proponents of intelligent design. Those aren't the proponents of intelligent design who should be taken seriously. Miller makes this strong claim that intelligent design is trying to win a war against science, but unfortunately he provides minimal evidence for this claim. (p. 111

Having studied the matter himself, Monton concludes,

It's pretty clear to me, judging from everything I've read by Dembski, that he intends the latter, pro-science, reading. I couldn't fully defend this by giving an example or two; the only way to really defend this claim is to read a lot of Dembski's work, and (in my opinion, at least) it becomes clear that Dembski is pro-science; he's just not pro-naturalism, and hence he's not pro-naturalism-as-a-scientific-methodology. (p. 139)

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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