Plantinga on ID

Alvin Plantinga has an interesting comment on judge John Jones’s recent anti-ID (intelligent design) ruling.

Now, I find it hard to agree with much of what Plantinga is saying (as usual), but he also has a few good points. In particular, trying to define science in such as way as to exclude supernatural agents as part of scientific explanations is dubious. This “methodological naturalism” type of argument has long been useful for scoring political points against creationists, but it’s at best a useful first approximation, not the full story. Methods have reasons; they are not a priori principles. Depending on what kind of world we live in, some methods will be useful for generating reliable knowledge, others will not be so useful. In that sense, there is no sharp separation between the results and the methods of our sciences. And so “methodological naturalism” is also not something handed down from on high — it’s a practical, well-tested approach, not a prior constraint on scientific inquiry. (I would add that the success of methodological naturalism is a strong reason for thinking that our world is a strictly naturalistic kind of world.)

That being said, there are plenty of other reasons to reject the claim that ID is scientific — not its violation of a set of logical principles but its consistent failure as an ostensibly scientific enterprise. For more, see contributions in Why Intelligent Design Fails, which I edited together with Matt Young. It’s just out in paperback.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University