instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, July 22, 2005

Argument by design

For two weeks, I've been trying to figure out what all the fuss is about. The closest I can come is this Q&A:
When Cardinal Schönborn says that purpose and design can be clearly discerned in the natural world, would you agree?

Not scientifically. As a scientist, I cannot draw this conclusion.
But Cardinal Schönborn isn't a scientist; he's a theologian. And I think the lesson to be drawn from this fact is, not that he doesn't know what he's talking about, but that he's probably not talking scientifically.

Talking non-scientifically is not per se bad.

And to me, Cardinal Schönborn seems to be saying that purpose and design can be clearly discerned in the natural world, and that to deny this is ideology, not science.

What he does not seem to me to be saying is that purpose and design can be clearly demonstrated scientifically. But the distinction between clear discernment and scientific demonstration is only irrelevant if science is the only means of discernment, and the claim that science is the only means of discernment is ideology, not science.

So to me, the question becomes, can purpose and design be clearly discerned in the natural world? The only way I can understand the terms "purpose," "design," "clearly," and "discerned" leads me to agree with the Cardinal that the answer is yes.

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