Saturday, September 01, 2007

Another Awful Comment

Regarding my designation of Guillermo Gonzalez as an ID Astronomer. Commenter dlaw wrote:
Okay, what is an "intelligent design astronomer" looking for and why does it matter either to science OR religion?

Is he looking for patterns in the background radiation from a Big Bang his Bible says didn't happen?

Is he looking for baby Jesus' house with the Hubble telescope?

Whatever anomoly an "intelligent design astronomer" might find in the current analysis of the arrangement of the Universe, what the hell does it have to do with a God that tells Jewish men to cut off their foreskins?

Is it not the case that ALL the formulas an "intelligent design" astronomer would use in his analysis of the Universe would suggest that Jesus Christ cannot possibly have been other than just another arrangement of carbon on a smallish planet?
I hesitated addressing this comment because it fails to reach a threshold of sophistication such that I am comfortably certain that an adult wrote it, and not a child. In the anonymous internet, I try my best to make sure I don't insult any kids who wander on here and make a comment, belligerent or not. They are guilty of nothing more than writing in a manner that is appropriate for their stage of development. So it is not dlaw's antagonistic tone that bothers me, I hardly seem to get non-antagonistic comments. It is the fact that the comment is so breathtakingly stupid that concerns me, and I say that only after reading it and another dlaw comment several times and convincing myself, based on other cues, that dlaw really is an adult. If not, I apologize. It still leaves the possibility, not very remote in my estimation, that dlaw is some one's idea of a parody.

With those caveats stated, I'll try to answer, but I doubt dlaw, if he is legit, will grasp the concept.

An ID Astronomer, to first order, and in my opinion, is a member of a small subset of a rather large subset of all scientists--the theistic scientists. Let me talk about that larger group first. There are many, many of us. Some are average, no-name scientists like me. Some are Nobel Prize winners--in fact, you mentioned the Big Bang--well Penizias, one of the discoverers of the Cosmic Background, is a Nobel Prize winner and a theist. So we are pretty common. We do science just like our atheist colleagues, but we draw different metaphysical conclusions that can be summarized this way:

Atheistic Scientist: Isn't nature beautiful?
Theistic Scientist: Isn't creation beautiful?

In a certain sense, all theistic scientists are small-letter i.d. scientists, because we agree at some level, though we'll disagree on the details, that God created the universe, and he did so intelligently.

A capital ID scientist goes beyond that and claims that the evidence for creation (design) is direct rather than circumstantial. Gonzalez, I believe it is fair to say, falls into that category. He did Astronomy, quite capably it would seem, and just like any other astronomer, atheist or theist. He crossed a line in the sand, however, when he went beyond what most scientists who are also theists would say (The heavens declare the Glory of God) and into a realm that is closer to claiming the data constitutes something like a scientific proof for the existence of God. At least that's my interpretation. And that is what got him in trouble with the scientific establishment. That and the fact that leaders of the ID Movement (Wells, Dembski, etc.) have screwed things up so badly that they have, in effect, moved the threshold of "an acceptable level of out-in-the-open theism" multiple steps in the wrong direction. They (Wells and Company) pulled the rug out from under Gonzalez’s feet. What he got in trouble for today may have been viewed as nothing more than a curiosity ten years ago.

IDers would argue that they are not a subset of all theistic scientists, but merely a subset of all scientists that has appreciable but not total overlap with the theists. I remain completely unconvinced.

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