Apparently the (comically unsuccessful) conspiracy that some proponents of intelligent design had been engaged in, to obscure their connection with particular religious traditions and outlooks, is breaking down. Michael Behe has made the connection explicit (in the process he calls Ken Miller a proponent of intelligent design as well). Bill O’Reilly also made the connection between ID and religion explicit, as did Ben Stein.
To most people it was perfectly obvious anyway. It certainly was to its supporters in pews. But it also came across in other more subtle ways, such as when a book like The Spiritual Brain claimed to be an unbiased look at the evidence for the soul as traditional conceived, but paid little attention to any evidence (such as ghosts or memories of past lives) that would not fit well in a historic orthodox Christian worldview. My point is not that such evidence is strong or weak, but it certainly exists and would be of anyone merely doing scientific research on the soul or related areas. To set such evidence aside, when many have found it persuasive or at least intriguing, shows that there is indeed an ideological bias, and it isn’t merely in favor of religion in general, but of a particular tradition understood in a particular way.
On his blog Thoughts in a Haystack, John Pieret helpfully points out that “Well, yes … science does discriminate against ID … and phlogiston theory, geocentrism, and planetary crystal spheres.” He also shares an article from an Arizona student that has been getting some attention recently. I’ve been thinking lately that, while Philip Kitcher is in one sense right to define young-earth creationism and intelligent design as “old science” rather than “non-science”, one needs to add that the attempt to revive an old, overturned and/or discredited bit of science for ideological reasons, without evidence that justifies doing so, is not only non-science but anti-science.
Those who appreciate irony will enjoy reading about Michael Behe’s criticism of Ken Miller’s theological objections to Intelligent Design. There are both scientific and theological objections, and Miller has been consistent in making both, and in keeping them distinct. Behe’s objection is ironic because it is the proponents of ID who have argued for science to embrace non-materialist approaches, and who have now had their religious motivations made even more public. If you are going to try to incorporate God into your science, then you should not complain when your work meets religious objections in addition to all the many scientific ones!