Friday, May 27, 2005

Dawkins and Dembski

Richard Dwakins has a new article here.
The Interesting bit:

Science feeds on mystery. As my colleague Matt
Ridley has put it, “Most scientists are bored by
what they have already discovered. It is ignorance
that drives them on.” Science mines ignorance.
Mystery – that which we don’t yet know; that
which we don’t yet understand – is the mother lode
that scientists seek out. Mystics exult in mystery
and want it to stay mysterious. Scientists exult in
mystery for a very different reason: it gives them
something to do. Maybe we don’t understand yet,
but we’re working on it! Each mystery solved
opens up vistas of unsolved problems, and the scientist
eagerly moves in.
Admissions of ignorance and mystification are vital
to good science. It is therefore galling, to say the
least, when enemies of science turn those constructive
admissions around and abuse them for political
advantage. It is worse than galling. It threatens the
enterprise of science itself. This is exactly the effect
creationism or ‘intelligent design theory’ (ID) is
having, especially because its propagandists are
slick, superficially plausible and, above all, wellfinanced.
ID, by the way, is not a new form of creationism.
It simply is creationism disguised, for political
reasons, under a new name.

IDthe Future has a response. The Interesting bit:

And William Dembski takes on Dawkins' argument-from-ignorance objection here.
So I followed the link and this is what we get: "He claims that ID is an argument from ignorance. But is the problem ignorance of the material causes needed to bring about biological complexity or an inherent inability of such causes to do so? Dawkins can’t seem to get his mind around this latter possibility."

At first I thought Dembski had just missed the point Dawkins was making. That it is the desire to demystify the mysterious and explore the unknown that drives the scientific enterprise. I especially thought this because Witt, the author of the ID the Future post, mischaracterises Dawkins argument as "an argument from ignorance" - birds of a feather and all. Then I realized that Dembski was just being perverse and really believes ignorance is proof of Intelligent Design. Biblical literalism has a way of doing that to people!