Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Michael Shermer in the Ottawa Citizen

Michael Shermer has written an editorial special to the Ottawa Citizen. He writes:

If you attempt to reconcile religion and science on questions about nature and the universe, and if you push the science to its logical conclusion, you will end up naturalizing the deity because for any question about nature - the origins of the universe, life, cells, humans, whatever - if your answer is "God did it," a scientist will ask, "How did God do it?, What forces did God use? What forms of matter and energy were employed in the process?" and so forth. The end result of this inquiry can only be natural explanations for all natural phenomena. What place, then, for God?

Shermer is correct in that, outside the bounds of miracles, there has to be some mechanism. The reason that science works so well is that the universe behaves in an orderly and predictable way and has for billions of years. This allows for hypotheses to be checked and theory to be devised. Another point that Shermer does not make here is that ID argues from lack of evidence. "Your theory is wrong, therefore mine is right." There is no thought to consider different alternatives. This point was not lost on Bobby Henderson, who argues that it is just as reasonable to believe in a Flying Spaghetti Monster since all alternatives are equally good when there is no mechanism involved.

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