Synthese

, Volume 178, Issue 2, pp 177–206 | Cite as

Can’t philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited

Article

Abstract

In the 2005 Kitzmiller v Dover Area School Board case, a federal district court ruled that Intelligent Design creationism was not science, but a disguised religious view and that teaching it in public schools is unconstitutional. But creationists contend that it is illegitimate to distinguish science and religion, citing philosophers Quinn and especially Laudan, who had criticized a similar ruling in the 1981 McLean v. Arkansas creation-science case on the grounds that no necessary and sufficient demarcation criterion was possible and that demarcation was a dead pseudo-problem. This article discusses problems with those conclusions and their application to the quite different reasoning between these two cases. Laudan focused too narrowly on the problem of demarcation as Popper defined it. Distinguishing science from religion was and remains an important conceptual issue with significant practical import, and philosophers who say there is no difference have lost touch with reality in a profound and perverse way. The Kitzmiller case did not rely on a strict demarcation criterion, but appealed only to a “ballpark” demarcation that identifies methodological naturalism (MN) as a “ground rule” of science. MN is shown to be a distinguishing feature of science both in explicit statements from scientific organizations and in actual practice. There is good reason to think that MN is shared as a tacit assumption among philosophers who emphasize other demarcation criteria and even by Laudan himself.

Keywords

Demarcation Intelligent Design Creationism Creation-science Methodological naturalism Science and religion 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abney, K. (1997). Naturalism and nonteleological science: A Way to resolve the demarcation problem between science and nonscience. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49.Google Scholar
  2. Agassi J., Laor N. (2000) How ignoring repeatability leads to magic. Philosophy of Social Sciences 30(4): 528–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anonymous. (2006). Intelligent-design backers downplay Dover. WorldNetDaily Retrieved January 15, 2006, from http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=48057.
  4. Atchison, M. (2004). Mustard seeds. Leadership U, Retrieved October 21, 2005, from http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9902/atchison.html.
  5. Axe D.D. (2000) Extreme functional sensitivity to conservative amino acid changes on enzyme exteriors. Journal of Molecular Biology 301(3): 585–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Axe D.D. (2004) Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds. Journal of Molecular Biology 341(5): 1295–1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Behe, M. (1999). The God of science: The case for intelligent design.The Weekly Standard: 35.Google Scholar
  8. Dembski W.A. (1994) The incompleteness of scientific naturalism. In: Buell J., Hearn V. (eds) Darwinism: Science or philosophy, foundation for thought and ethics. TX, Richardsonm, pp 79–98Google Scholar
  9. Dembski W.A. (1995) What every theologian should know about creation, evolution, and design. Center for Interdisciplinary Studies Transactions 3(2): 1–8Google Scholar
  10. Dembski, W. A. (2006). Bradley Monton—Important article on Dover. Uncommon Descent: The intelligent design weblog of Bill Bembski & Friends, Retrieved January 7, 2006, from http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/611.
  11. Derksen A.A. (1993) The seven sins of pseudo-science. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 21(1): 17–42Google Scholar
  12. DeWolf, D. K. (August 20, 1999). Teaching the origins controversy: A guide for the perplexed. Discovery Institute. Retrieved September 1999, from http://www.discovery.org/crsc/articles/article6.html.
  13. DeWolf D.K., Meyer S.C. et al (1999) Intelligent design in public school science curricula: A legal guidebook, foundation for Thought and Ethics. TX, RichardsonGoogle Scholar
  14. DeWolf D.K., Meyer S.C. et al (2000) Teaching the origins controversy: science, or religion, or speech?. Utah Law Review 39(1): 39–110Google Scholar
  15. Discovery_Institute. (1999). The wedge strategy. Retrieved May 1999, from http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/archive/thomas_wedge.html.
  16. Discovery_Institute. (2004). Darwin, design, and public education—New book examines the scientific evidence for intelligent design and advocates teaching both Darwinism and design to improve science education. Retrieved January 8, 2004, from http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=1694&program=News-CSC&callingPage=discoMainPage.
  17. Fales, E. (2006). Dover judge makes the right ruling using the wrong premise. Commentary. Science & Theology News. March 10, 2006.Google Scholar
  18. Feyerabend P. (1981) Realism and instrumentalism: Comments on the logic of factual support. In: Feyerabend P.K. (eds) Realism, rationalism & scientific method: Philosophical papers, Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 176–202Google Scholar
  19. Forrest B. (2001) The wedge at work: How intelligent design creationism is wedging its way into the cultural and academic mainstream. In: Pennock R.T. (eds) Intelligent design creationism and its critics: Philosophical, theological and scientific perspectives. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 5–53Google Scholar
  20. Forrest B., Gross P.R. (2003) Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The wedge of intelligent design. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Fuller S. (2006) A step toward the legalization of science studies. Social Studies of Science 36(6): 827–834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. George, A. (2005). What’s wrong with intelligent design, and with its critics. Christian Science Monitor.Google Scholar
  23. Gieryn T.F. (1983a) Boundary-Work and the demarcation of science from non-science: Strains and interests in professional ideologies of scientists. American Sociological Review 48(6): 781–795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gross B.R. (1983b) Commentary: Philosophers at the bar—Some reasons for restraint. Science, Technology, & Human Values 8(4): 30–38Google Scholar
  25. Hume D. (1978 (1739)) A treatise on human nature. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  26. Katskee R.B. (2006) Why it mattered to Dover that intelligent design isn’t science. First Amendment Law Review 5(Fall): 112–161Google Scholar
  27. Laudan L. (1982) Science at the bar—Causes for concern. Science, Technology, & Human Values 7(41): 16–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Laudan L. (1983a) More on creationism. Science, Technology, & Human Values 8(42): 36–38Google Scholar
  29. Laudan L. (1983) The demise of the demarcation problem. In: Cohen R.S., Laudan L. (eds) Physics, Philosophy, and Psychoanalysis. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp 111–127Google Scholar
  30. Laudan L. (1996) Beyond positivism and relativism: Theory, method, and evidence. Colorado, Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  31. Lenski R.E., Ofria C. et al (2003) The evolutionary origin of complex features. Nature 423: 139–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Levin J.S. (1996) How prayer heals: A theoretical model. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2(1): 66–73Google Scholar
  33. Lewontin R. (1997) Billions and billions of demons. New York review of books 44(1): 28–32Google Scholar
  34. Luskin, C. (2005). Will Robert Pennock become the next Michael Ruse? Evolution news and views, Retrieved October 27, 2005, from http://www.evolutionnews.org/index.php?title=will_robert_pennock_become_the_next_mich&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1.
  35. Matzke, N. (2005a). I guess ID really was “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” after all. The Panda’s Thumb. Retrieved October 13, 2005, from http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/10/i_guess_id_real.html.
  36. Matzke, N. (2005b). Missing Link discovered! Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District: Legal documents, trial materials, updates. Retrieved November 7, 2005, from http://www2.ncseweb.org/wp/?p=80.
  37. Mayo D.G. (1996) Ducks, rabbits, and normal science: Recasting the Kuhn’s-eye view of Popper’s demarcation of science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47: 271–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Meyer S.C. (1992) Laws, causes, and facts: Response to Michael Ruse. Darwinism: Science or Philosophy, Foundation for Thought and Ethics. TX, RichardsonGoogle Scholar
  39. Meyer S.C. (1994) The methodological equivalence of design & descent: Can there be a “Theory of Creation”?. In: Moreland J.P. (eds) The creation hypothesis. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, pp 66–112Google Scholar
  40. Meyer, S. C. (2004). Meyer responds to errors in chronicle of higher education article. Retrieved September 13, 2004, from http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2207.
  41. Monton, B. (2006). Is intelligent design science? Dissecting the Dover decision. On-line manuscript draft.Google Scholar
  42. Moreland J.P. (1994) Scientific creationism, science, and conceptual problems. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 46: 2–13Google Scholar
  43. NationalAcademy of Sciences. (1999) Science and creationism: A view from the National Academy of Sciences (2nd ed). National Academy of Sciences, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  44. National Science Teachers Association. (2000). The nature of science. Retrieved July 13, 2006, from http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/natureofscience.aspx.
  45. National Science Teachers Association. (2003). The teaching of evolution. Retrieved July 13, 2006, from http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/evolution.aspx.
  46. Overton W.R. (1982) United States District Court Opinion: McLean v. Arkansas.. In: Ruse M. (eds) But is it science? The philosophical question in the creation/evolution controversy. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York, pp 307–331Google Scholar
  47. Pennock R.T. (1995) Epistemic and ontic theories of explanation and confirmation. Philosophy of Science (Japan) 28: 31–45Google Scholar
  48. Pennock R.T. (1996a) Naturalism, evidence and creationism: The case of Phillip Johnson. Biology and Philosophy 11(4): 543–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pennock R.T. (1996b) Reply: Johnson’s reason in the balance. Biology and Philosophy 11(4): 565–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pennock R.T. (1998) The prospects for a theistic science. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 50(3): 205–209Google Scholar
  51. Pennock R.T. (1999) Tower of Babel: The evidence against the new creationism. The MIT Press, Cambridge MAGoogle Scholar
  52. Pennock, R. T. (2000). The wizards of ID: Reply to Dembski. The global spiral METANEXUS 089. Retrieved from http://www.metanexus.net/magazine/ArticleDetail/tabid/68/id/2645/Default.aspx.
  53. Pennock, R. T. (2002). Intelligent design & peer review: What if they gave a war and nobody came. Research News & Opportunities in Science & Technology 2(11/12).Google Scholar
  54. Pennock R.T. (2004) DNA by design?: Stephen Meyer and the return of the God hypothesis. In: Ruse M., Dembski W. (eds) Debating design. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 130–148Google Scholar
  55. Pennock, R. T. (2005). Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Expert Report.Google Scholar
  56. Pennock R.T. (2006) God of the gaps: The argument from ignorance and the limits of methodological naturalism. In: Petto A.J., Godfrey L.R. (eds) Scientists confront creationism: Creation science, intelligent design and beyond. WW Norton, New York, pp 1–1Google Scholar
  57. Philadelphia Inquirer. (2006). Verbatim verbatim “The opinion speaks for itself.” Philadelphia inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  58. Plantinga A. (1991) When faith and reason clash: Evolution and the Bible. Christian Scholars Review XXI(1): 8–32Google Scholar
  59. Quinn P.L. (1984) The philosopher of science as expert witness. In: Cushing J.T., Delaney C.F., Gutting G.M. (eds) Science and reality: Recent work in the philosophy of science. Notre Dame University Press, South Bend, IN, pp 1–1Google Scholar
  60. Reisch G.A. (1998) Pluralism, logical empiricism, and the problem of pseudoscience. Philosophy of Science 65(June): 333–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Resnik D.B. (2000) A pragmatic approach to the demarcation problem. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 31(2): 249–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Roper J. (2005) Should we teach both evolution and ‘creationism’ in science classes?. In: Jagusah O., Smith D., Makedon A. (eds) The Midwest Philosophy of Education Society Proceedings for 2001–2003. Author House, Bloomington, IN, pp 485–504Google Scholar
  63. Ruse M. (1982) Pro judice. Science, Technology, & Human Values 7(4): 19–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ruse, M. (eds) (1988) But is it science? The philosophical question in the creation/evolution controversy. Prometheus Books, Buffalo NYGoogle Scholar
  65. Ruse M. (2001) Methodological naturalism under attack. In: Pennock R.T. (eds) Intelligent design creationism and its critics: Philosophical, theological and scientific perspectives. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 363–385Google Scholar
  66. Sober E. (2007) Intelligent design theory and the supernatural—The “God or extra-terrestrials” Reply. Faith and Philosophy 24: 72–82Google Scholar
  67. Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. Judge Jones, Legal documents, trial materials, updates. United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 7, 2005, from http://www2.ncseweb.org/wp/?p=80 (2005).
  68. Taylor C.A. (1996) Defining science: A rhetoric of demarcation. Wisconsin University of Wisconsin Press, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  69. Tennant N. (2007) What might logic and methodology have offered the Dover School Board, had they been willing to listen?. Public Affairs Quarterly 21(2): 149–167Google Scholar
  70. Thomas More Law Center. (2005). Defendants’ pretrial memorandum.Google Scholar
  71. Wirth, K. (2006). The Grinch Opinion in Kitzmiller v Dover. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from http://www.kevs-korner.com/CREVO/.
  72. Witt, J. (2005). Miller on witness stand: ID isn’t falsifiable, so it isn’t science: Plus, we’ve already falsified it. Evolution News & Views, Retrieved from http://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/09/title_43.html.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations