Joined: Jan. 2006
As the year 2006 draws to a close, let us pause to reflect on the great strides made recently by the science of intelligent design. A mere four years ago, when ID still languished under a cloud of disrepute, Dr. William A. Dembski published this prescient map of ID's road to respectability:
Becoming a Disciplined Science: Prospects, Pitfalls, and Reality Check for ID
In it, he helpfully outlined a set of objective standards by which the progress of ID could be judged:
|Objective Measures of Progress (OMP)|
How do we gauge how well we are doing in developing ID as a scientific research program? We need some objective measures of progress. Rather than lay out such measures in pedantic detail, let me indicate what they are under four rubrics, each followed by a series of questions:
Have we become boring? Have we run out of things to say? Is the fount of fresh ideas drying up? Are we constantly repeating ourselves? Are people who once were excited about what we're doing no longer excited? Or do we have the intellectual initiative? Are we setting the agenda for the problems being discussed? Are we ourselves energized by our research? Is there nothing we'd rather be doing than work on intelligent design? Are our ideas strong enough to engage the best and the brightest on the other side?
Are we holding ourselves to high intellectual standards? Are we in the least self-critical about our work? Are we sober or immodest about our work? Do we demand precision and rigor from our each other? Do we examine each other's work with intense critical scrutiny and speak our minds freely in assessing it? Or do we try to keep all our interactions civil, gentlemanly, and diplomatic (perhaps so as not to give the appearance of dissension in our ranks)? Does the mood of our movement alternate between the smug and the indignant -- smug when we hold the upper hand, indignant when we are criticized? Do we react to adverse criticism like first-time novelists who are dismayed to discover that their masterpiece has been trashed by the critics? Or do we take adverse criticism as an occasion for tightening and improving our work?
Exiting the Ghetto
Do we refuse to be marginalized within an intellectual ghetto or second-class subculture? Are scholars and scientists on the other side actually getting to know us? Once they get to know us, do they still demonize us or do they think that we have an interesting, albeit perverse, point of view? Is intelligent design's appeal international? Does it cross religious boundaries? Or is it increasingly confined to American evangelicalism? Who owns ID? Are we trying to get our ideas into the scientific mainstream? Are we continuing to plug away at getting our work published in the mainstream peer-reviewed literature (despite the deck being stacked against us)? Or are we seeking safe havens where we can publish our work easily, yet mainly for the benefit of each other? At the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, for instance, we encourage contributors to the society's journal also to submit their articles to the mainstream literature. John Bracht, for instance, recently had his lengthy design-theoretic appraisal of Stuart Kauffman's latest book, Investigations, accepted in the Santa Fe Institute's journal Complexity. This is precisely what needs to happen.
Are we continually attracting new talent to intelligent design's scientific research program? Does that talent include intellects of the highest caliber? Is that talent distributed across the disciplines or confined only to certain disciplines? Are under-represented disciplines getting filled? What about talent that's been with the movement in the past? Is it staying with the movement or becoming disillusioned and aligning itself elsewhere? Do the same names associated with intelligent design keep coming up in print or are we constantly adding new names? Are we fun to be around? Do we have a colorful assortment of characters? Other things being equal, would you rather party with a design theorist or a Darwinist?
There you have it -- an objective set of standards for judging ID's progress. What do you say now, scoffers?
And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number. -- Joe G
Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF