ID a threat to Science and Society?
Lord May has weighed into the debate about intelligent design in his final annual address as President of the Royal Society. He sees all forms of fundamentalism as variants of "dark unreason." He argues that faced with complex issues we are being tempted to retreat from living by reason and fact into a life of the deceptive security of revelation and faith.
"In the US, the aim of a growing network of fundamentalist foundations and lobby groups reaches well beyond 'equal time' for creationism, or its disguised variant 'intelligent design', in the science classroom. Rather, the ultimate aim is the overthrow of 'scientific materialism', in all its manifestations."
The dangers he argues are not only over the theory but are impacting public policy.
Arguments from the creationist fundamentalists about the provision of condoms for preventing the spread of AIDS is resulting in polices that are less effective in containing the spread of this disease.
What this amounts to is public demonization of ID combined with an appeal to return to the orthodox morality of fundamentalist atheism!
What Lord May seems unable to distinguish is the distinction between science and scientific materialism. What he seems unable to appreciate is that he himself is a fundamentalist building on a different set of assumptions about reality from those who argue that personality and intelligence are more fundamental entities than matter and energy and time.
It looks to me like more of the same instinctive herd rejection of something which is unorthodox rather than a careful analysis of the arguments and evidence. Portraying ID as an attack on science rather than an attack on materialism by confusing science and materialism is a policy which is bound to fail in the long run.
I say bring back men like Robert Boyle who thought about science in an entirely different way from Lord May.
What is going on here is the begining of a process which exposes the religious nature of scientific materialism. Lord May is announcing his willingness to stand as leading priest of the ranks of orthodox materialists who which to exclude the reality of intelligent causation from science as a basic rule of science while at the same time pretending to embrace principles of "free, open, unprejudiced, uninhibited questioning and enquiry."
Secular humanism allied with scientific materialism needs to be recognised as a thoroughly religious position rather than being treated as the neutral factual basis from which all other worldviews can be compared. The distinction between science and materialism needs to be reasserted in no uncertain terms.
Secular humanism based on scientific materialism has its own moral agenda which is opposed to a Judeo/christian worldview but which seeks to present itself as having exclusive claims to reason and sound logic. These claims have gone unchallenged for too long. It is time for the Royal Society to go back to its roots!