Saturday, January 01, 2011

Nagel on Intelligent Design and Public Education

An atheist has weakened my stance on intelligent design...towards permitting it in the classroom.  Nagel seems to have a compelling argument , but I suppose most scientists won't buy it.  I am definitely going to revisit this article in the future, but here are some excerpts from "Public Education and Intelligent Design":

"The real issue over the scientific status of ID is over what determines the antecedent belief in the possibility that a nonphysical being should intervene in the natural order...If these prior probabilities have a large effect on the interpretation of the empirical evidence, and if neither of them is empirically based, it is hard to imagine that one of them should render the resulting reasoning unscientific whereas the other does not."

"If one scientist is a theist and another an atheist, this is either a scientific or nonscientific disagreement between them.  If it is scientific (supposing this is possible), then their disagreement is scientific all the way down.  If it is not a scientific disagreement, and if this difference in their nonscientific beliefs about the antecedent probabilities affects their rational interpretation of the same empirical evidence, I do not see how we can say that one is engaged in science and the other is not.  Either both conclusions are rendered nonscientific by the influence of their nonscientific assumptions, or both are scientific in spite of those assumptions." (emphasis mine)

"Public schools in the United States may not teach atheism or deism any more than they may teach Christianity, so how can it be all right to teach scientific theories whose empirical confirmation depends on the assumption of one range of these views while it is impermissible to discuss the implications of alternative views  on the same question?"


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