Morning all, I wish to moan so if you'll please excuse me whilst I do I will try to get it over with as quickly as possible. What I want to moan about is the coverage I keep seeing in papers and blogs about Sarah Palin that says she is a "creationist" and wants to teach "creationism" in schools.
Now some may say I'm splitting hairs here but she isn't a "creationist" nor does she want to teach "creationism" in schools. Creationism is the literal interpretation of the allegory in Genesis which says God created the heaven, earth, man, woman and beast in six days and had a kip on the last (no surprise there I would have a kip too after all that work).
Sarah Palin on the other hand is an advocate of Intelligent Design which is, I;m afraid to say entirely different. Of course, for those attacking from the Left (which is where most criticism comes from (understandably)) ID and Creationism is exactly the same thing. The problem is that analysis is clearly lazy, and even more sod ignorant of ontology and general Enlightenment ideas.
This is, I think, particularly ironic, because those that attack Sarah Palin claim to be on the side of reason and science, and yet seem to be blissfully ignorant of the fact that Intelligent Design is just classical rationalism, as advocated by the likes of Plato, written about in Aristotle's Metaphysics, and developed further with the watchmaker analogy by Descartes in his Meditations, and Discourse on Method.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying I'm an advocate of Intelligent Design, I'm just saying that it isn't the same thing as Creationism, and nor is a particularly new idea. It seems the only reason there is any reaction to those who advocate in fact is because they also tend to be religious. I guess this is why no one ever points out that some of the greatest philosophers in history argued, from a hefty intellectual standpoint, that the nature of being could have rational scope for the existence of a higher being.
Even more so, what is wrong with teaching Descartes, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero et al in schools alongside Darwin? After all, the latter deals with the how from a single starting point whilst the former attempt to answer the question, through rationalist argument, of whether something else kicked off what Darwin observed. Whilst I'm on the subject of schools though, why can't we start advocating the teaching of the philosophy of science as well? This would be worthwhile because there is a huge gulf between how science actually works and what the vast majority think about how science works.
Most of those that criticise the rationalism of ID theory are also falling into the trap that Hume identified as the problem of induction. We often hear about how Darwin has been "proven", how climate change is unequivocal. However "science", and by that I mean proper "science" does not make statements of certainty, it only puts forward hypothesise and invites experimentation to disprove them. The more you cannot disprove a theory the stronger it becomes, but it never truth.
As I say, I'm not an advocate of Intelligent Design per se. But I am willing to acknowledge that it is a rational theory based on deductive reasoning about the nature of existence and where things come from. I also don't think such a theory has any clash or contradiction with Darwin's argument either, because Darwin was dealing with "how" things got to where we are, not the "where". Equally, there is no contradiction between the idea of random chance bringing about life and Darwinian Theory. In fact, random chance is an equally rational deductive argument to make as that of the watchmaker.
I guess really the attacks on Sarah Palin's beliefs are more about politics than intellectual honesty. However, there might be a bit of ignorance about the history of ideas thrown in there too for some of them. As I’ve already said twice, I’m not an advocate of Intelligent Design; I am however quite relaxed if someone chooses to accept the rationalist reasoning of Descartes or Aristotle. I also don’t see why they shouldn’t be taught in school either.
OK, moan over.
Update: For those reading this who may feel the need to comment about whether ID is science, I have not, at any point in the above suggested it is. In fact it isn't, however that does not make it, by necessity wrong. It just means that it is not falsifiable. Just because a theory is not scientific in those terms it does not follow by necessity that it is a wrong theory. And again, I stress here that I am not saying ID is right either, just that it cannot be tested and disproven because it isn't a scientific theory in the first place, it is a philosophical rational theory that is ancient.