Intelligent design

Interesting post on intelligent design from Alex Tabarrok:

Thus for someone who knows, really knows, that god(s) exists (and there are many people who claim to know that god(s) exists) then some form of creationism follows as a rational deduction from the premises.  It's no point telling these people that creationism is unscientific because given the premise that god(s) exists creationism is scientific. If god(s) exists then evolution is almost certainly false, if not in every particular then surely in the grand claims of a undesigned nature.

He references this Robin Hanson post as well.  Both are channelling Thomas Nagel:

I agree with Philip Kitcher that the response of evolutionists to creation science and intelligent design should not be to rule them out as "not science." He argues that the objection should rather be that they are bad science, or dead science: scientific claims that have been decisively refuted by the evidence. ... However, the claim that ID is bad science or dead science may depend ... on the assumption that divine intervention in the natural order is not a serious possibility. ...

So far as I can see, the only way to make no assumptions of a religious nature would be to admit that the empirical evidence may suggest different conclusions depending on what religious belief one starts with, and that the evidence does not by itself settle which of those beliefs is correct, even though there are other religious beliefs, such as the literal truth of Genesis, that are easily refuted by the evidence. I do not see much hope that such an approach could be adopted, but it would combine intellectual responsibility with respect for the Establishment Clause. ...

I think the true position of those who would exclude intelligent design ... is that ... the very idea of design is as dead as Ptolemaic astronomy ... To exclude the possibility of divine intervention in the history of life is scientifically legitimate, and to assign it any antecedent positive probability at all is irrational. ... Most evolutionary scientists ... believe that there are no supernatural explanations, and that trying to show that they are incompatible with the evidence is a waste of time. ... They think, Anybody who is willing even to consider supernatural explanations is living in the past.

We cannot, however, make this a fundamental principle of public education. I understand the attitude that ID is just the latest manifestation of the fundamentalist threat, and that you have to stand and fight them here or you will end up having to fight for the right to teach evolution at all. However, I believe that both intellectually and constitutionally the line does not have to be drawn at this point, and that a noncommittal discussion of some of the issues would be preferable.

I don't know how willing I am to ratify the scientific assumption that the supernatural is never a possible explanation.  I am a radical skeptic; I think that the supernatural is generally a very unlikely explanation, but I can evince no proof that the laws of physics as generally observed operate always and everywhere.

Nor do I think that even Young Earth creationism can be ruled out by science, if you are willing to posit the possibility of a creator; God might have created the world looking old for His own inscrutable reasons.

But that's no good way to set curricula.  I also can't rule out the possibility that Brahma made the world out of a lotus flower at Lord Vishnu's command.  Or that Gaia and Uranus spontaneously generated the world out of the primordial chaos.  You can't teach the debate.  Once you open the door for supernatural explanations, there's no debate.  There are merely statements of faith.