What Is The Purpose Of Creation Science?

I've been having a bit of an ID/Evolution tussle with Bob Murphy here and here, and a question just occurred to me: What exactly is it the purpose of Intelligent Design/Creation Science?

Yes, yes, the obvious explanation is that theists want God taught in the science classrooms. But doesn't this violate a central tenet of theism? Namely, don't all theists have to account for the hiddenness of God? That is, if God exists, why doesn't God make its own existence obvious, and eliminate all of the time wasted (and sins committed) as a result of reasonable doubt?

Most versions of theism that I have encountered give a similar answer to this question: the hiddenness of God is a test of faith, for which believers will be rewarded. Open, obvious evidence for God's existence would remove a significant element of free will - we would not be believing because we choose to believe, but because we must believe.

But if that's the case, then why the urge to prove, scientifically, that God is in the gaps? Why are IDers/Creationists looking for, not just any evidence, but scientific evidence, in the form of irreducible complexity as an argument for the existence of a designer?

If God really did exist, why would God provide complex, statistical, scientific evidence for its own existence only in the micro-world of biochemical processes, and not instead, say, host his own public access television show called Jesus and Pals? Are microbiologists more deserving than the rest of us to bask in the knowledge and glory of the Divine? Or does God want us all to give up our day jobs and become microbiologists?

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Evolution is a bit more of a threat to theism than, say, the theory that the seasons are caused by axial tilt (rather than divine intervention). If you allow scientists to explain why people are the way they are, you're really challenging theism's core competency. ID exists not to prove that God exists, but to muddy the water sufficiently to leave a possiblity that one can choose to have faith in.

That's rather an uncharitable interpretation, of course. For the sake of balance, it must be said that, if they believe ID to be true, they would reasonably want to teach it. The suggestion they should cover up the truth for the sake of leaving room for faith is open to tactical, strategic and moral objections.

No need for cover up if you dont actively look

I'm not suggesting that Creationists/IDers should cover up the truth once they've already found it; I'm asking why they are going out and actively seeking scientific evidence of God's existence when it seems that such evidence would pose a grave problem for their prior theistic beliefs.

Of course, I agree with your cynical, uncharitable interpretation: that Creationists/IDers do what they do not to seek truth but to muddy the waters. But obviously Creationists/IDers don't openly believe uncharitable interpretations of their own agendas. Or do they?

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"What's the purpose of ID or

"What's the purpose of ID or creationist science?"

If it's true, that's all the purpose it needs.

Right, but my question is

Right, but my question is what is the purpose from the perspective of a theist? Why would a theist, on the one hand, believe that God keeps itself hidden (for an explanation is needed for why God is not openly revealed), and on the other hand, feel the need to prove using the tools of science that evidence of God's existence is openly revealed (to those who are schooled in biochemistry)?

Francis Collins, a prominent

Francis Collins, a prominent evangelical microbiologist who is NOT an ID-er, argues that certain facets of human nature, and the finely tuned nature of quantities like the gravitational constant make the existence of God plausible, which seems to be the key important word. Not proven (no need for faith), not impossible (faith = dumb), but plausible.

Plausibility makes sense, provability doesn't

If theists kept their arguments on the level of plausibility in the sense that you outlined it, there wouldn't be as much of a problem. The question "why are certain physical constants this way and not that, conducive to human existence and not impossible for it" is a philosophical question, not a scientific one. But the theists in the Creationist/ID school seem to want more than these - they want scientific evidence for God's existence, not just philosophical plausibility.

It's just for the sake of

It's just for the sake of getting it past the courts.

Darwinism is No Fun

Most people don’t really have an understanding of what Darwinism entails.

It directly contradicts the feeling most people need that life had some underlying purpose. The mechanism underlying it has to do with entirely random shuffling of DNA base pairs, which, unless you propose some involvement by a guiding hand to either insert desired base pairs into the genome for some ordained purpose or some sort of transcendental shielding of provisionally unfit genes until random mutation fills in the gap.

It also entails relentless weeding out of less competitive models, which doesn’t seem very nice since it means a lot of suffering. It pretty much refutes any ideas of a benevolent god with a nice plan for his creatures. Is it any wonder that people seek other alternatives, even if they are untenable.

Objective purpose is not the only kind of purpose

It directly contradicts the feeling most people need that life had some underlying purpose.

No, undirected evolution only contradicts the notion that life has some underlying objective purpose. But contradicting that notion doesn't mean conceding that life has no purpose at all. Life's purpose is what we choose to make of it. Only children need to have their purposes given to them from up above.

It pretty much refutes any ideas of a benevolent god with a nice plan for his creatures.

Well, you don't need the inherent violence and brutality of survival of the fittest to pose a problem for a benevolent god. The existence of natural disasters poses an even larger problem. (I suppose that survival of the fittest is in a certain sense a natural disaster - the predictable economic result of scarcity.)

In the end even the most

In the end even the most devout doubt their faith and are searching for evidence to support their beliefs. The struggle is about self affirmation.

So, Darwin's theory is unfalsifiable?

The attempts to prove the existence of God go back a long way. The desire to prove the truth of one's own beliefs, meanwhile, is so natural and so strongly felt even by you and me (with respect to our own beliefs - see, for example, our endless defenses of our political beliefs) that I can hardly imagine that you mean your question seriously. So I can't take your question seriously as a question; rather, I think, it's a rhetorical question, and you are trying to make some point with it. But I'm not sure what point, exactly. I get that you are arguing that true believers in God should not try to prove his existence since to do so violates an alleged tenet, but what is the point of bringing that up? I doubt you are altruistically trying to save them from the flames of hell (are you?). Are you trying to convince them to shut up? To what end?

Or maybe you are trying to argue that there is no, that there cannot be any, evidence for the existence of God, and you are basing your argument on the alleged tenets of theism. God, you may be arguing, would not provide evidence for himself since he wants to test our faith, and this being the case, it follows that no evidence is going to be found. Is that your point? If this is what you're getting at, then to apply your point specifically to the question of a godless theory of evolution, you are arguing that if godless evolution is false, then the evidence will nevertheless point to godless evolution, since God would not reveal Himself that way. And meanwhile, if godless evolution is true, then the evidence will, again, point to godless evolution.

Your argument, then, seems to boil down to this: the godless theory of evolution is unfalsifiable.

Yes, it's somewhat

Yes, it's somewhat rhetorical. I'm pointing out what I see as a tension in Creationist belief: that on the one hand, theists believe that God chooses to keep evidence of its own existence somewhat hidden, while on the other hand, theists in the Creationist/ID camps seem desperate to establish open, scientific evidence of God's existence. I'm not arguing that theists should embrace one position or the other; I'm just curious how they can reconcile this apparent conflict within themselves.

As for the falsifiability of evolution, the godfather of the falsifiability standard himself went back and forth on the falsifiability of evolution. But no matter; Popper's falsifiability was long ago abandoned as the sole sufficient criteria in the philosophy of science as what makes something count as science. Philosophers are just waiting for everyone else (including scientists) to catch up.


"But no matter; Popper's falsifiability was long ago abandoned as the sole sufficient criteria in the philosophy of science as what makes something count as science. Philosophers are just waiting for everyone else (including scientists) to catch up."

They are going to be waiting a very long time since Popper got it right. Perhaps we should leave it up to scientists to decide which philosopher best describes their methods and not the other way 'round.

But Popper didn't get it

But Popper didn't get it right. I'm not even sure Popper believed he got it (entirely) right in the end. There certainly aren't very many, if any, strict falsificationists around anymore. It's not that falsifiability is wrong; it's certainly a useful thing to know about a theory. But it is incomplete as a single red-line demarcation rule between science and non-science.

Perhaps we should leave it up to scientists to decide which philosopher best describes their methods and not the other way 'round.

Of the practicing scientists who write professionally about the philosophy of science, I don't think there are very many strict falsificationists left, if there every were. It's usually the scientists (both professional and amateur) who haven't read much philosophy of science who think that philosophy of science ended with Popper. Of course, it's no surprise that those who haven't studied the epistemology of the scientific method in great detail (even if they use the method everyday) tend to not have a clue what they are talking about, and yet vigorously insist that they do.

Unfalsifiability will always be unfalsifiability

But no matter; Popper's falsifiability was long ago abandoned as the sole sufficient criteria in the philosophy of science as wh unfalsifiability at makes something count as science.

That doesn't mean falsifiability doesn't matter, even if you are correct. A dog with no legs remains a dog, but its leglessness matters plenty to the dog and to its owner.

I agree; read my post

I agree; read my post downstream in response to Brian. Falsifiability does still matter, just not as much as some people think.

Test of Faith

I never understood the "test of faith" thingy. Wouldn't believing in any old nonsense show you have "faith", also know as gullibility. So shouldn't you get into heaven for believing in aliens. That shows plenty of faith.

Kierkegaard and the Ham Sandwich

That's sort of how I always understood (or misunderstood) Søren Kierkegaard's justification for belief in God - the notion of God, as the product of a virgin birth among other tall tales, is so absurd that it must be true. Of course, as I told my philosophy professor, this is just as good of a reason to pray to a ham sandwich. If anything, believing the ham sandwich to be God is even more absurd, so therefore even more of a reason for faith. Though I suppose "reason for faith" is sort of a contradiction.

And, incidentally, I believe Kierkegaard is credited with originating the concept of a "leap of faith."

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