The Executive Committee of the International Society for Science and Religion has issued a statement about Intelligent Design which makes it clear that they do not accept the term 'secularised science' but rather see science as operating "with a common set of methodological approaches that gives freedom to scientists from a range of religious backgrounds to unite in a common endeavor." Here is the key paragraph:
"We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language. Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of "irreducible complexity" in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be "irreducibly complex" today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow."
Source: ISSR Statement on the Concept of 'Intelligent Design'
Most of the committee members have contributed articles or books on the subject which elaborate the above text. Their names are Denis Alexander, Munawar Anees, Martinez Hewlett, Ronald L. Numbers (chair), Holmes Rolston III, Michael Ruse and Jeffrey Schloss.
There are many issues raised by the Statement. One biologist has commented: "I have never seen a refutation of Mike Behe's argument made in DBB that a single photosensitive cell is irreducibly complex." Also: "And what does it mean that something "can be readily understood as a product of natural selection"? As long as you can "understand" something that way you're okay, even if it hasn't been demonstrated? They concede as much in the subsequent sentence."
Philosopher Angus Menuge has provided all the following comments about the science-stopper charge:
And the sad thing is that this is all based on a simple mistake. Inferring design from irreducible complexity does not at all "stop science," but invites investigation into the control program that assembles the IC system, as Behe's latest book details. The problem is a persistent false picture of designer as fairy godmother, rather than designer as computer engineer who works through means. If I infer design from a print-out of the Mona Lisa, I am not at all discouraged from investigating the mechanisms (photography, scanners, computer software and hardware) used to bring that designed product to us. Design isn't committed to the idea that every time a phenomenon is identified as designed, the designer must have immediately brought into existence. This is as silly as thinking that because ID sees design in human beings, it is claiming they were brought into the world by supernatural storks, and not through the means of reproduction.
In truth, it is Darwinism that is a science stopper and/or retarder, because it allows people to accept non-functionality too easily and to accept non-testable just-so stories because they are the sort of thing that "just has to be true," regardless of the evidence. As with scholastic science, why bother to look if "the philosopher" (then, Aristotle; now, Darwin) has proclaimed it must be thus and so?
What's more, design is already promoting research because methodological design is more useful than methodological materialism. This is the point of Michael Ruse:
"We treat organisms-the parts at least-as if they were manufactured, as if they were designed, and then try to work out their functions. End-directed thinking-teleological thinking-is appropriate in biology because, and only because, organisms seem as if they were manufactured, as if they had been created by an intelligence and put to work." (Michael Ruse, Darwin and Design, 268.)
It is also reinforced by Bruce Alberts' claim that 21st century biologists will need to learn the principles of engineering and computer science (design principles):
"Why do we call the large protein assemblies...machines? Precisely because, like the machines invented by humans...these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts."
Bruce Alberts, "The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines: Preparing the Next Generation of Molecular Biologists," Cell, Vol. 92, 1998, p. 291.
The fact that these scientists all claim that nature does it all, doesn't show a thing: it is a statement of faith that plays no substantive role in the actual experimental analysis given. Design does all the heavy lifting; then the attributes of the designer are transferred mythologically to natural selection, without evidence. As A. S. Wilkins wrote:
"The subject of evolution occupies a special, and paradoxical, place within biology as a whole. While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky's dictum that nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one."
A.S. Wilkins, Evolutionary processes: a special issue, BioEssays, December(2000), 22, 1051-2.
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