I picked up JP Moreland’s Christianity and the Nature of Science from the library for some summer reading. It’s interesting to observe the datedness of the publication as it was put to press in 1987 not long after the controversies over “creation science” came to fever pitch in the courts. In 1981, Judge Overton ruled against creation science being taught in Arkansas classrooms by arguing that it was not science. Ever since, the creation side has tried to argue that their theory is scientific by re-packaging it in terms of “intelligent design” (ID) and calling for the schools to “teach the controversy” over evolution.
While I think the question over whether (ID) is science is an interesting one, I think it is less important than whether it is true. We have our legal system to thank for this distinction. The “But is it Science?” question is relevant for determining whether something should be considered for science teachers to address in a classroom. Thus, the courts have made their rulings. In the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover decision Judge Jones wrote:
To conclude and reiterate, we express no opinion on the ultimate veracity of ID as a supernatural explanation. However, we commend to the attention of those who are inclined to superficially consider ID to be a true “scientific” alternative to evolution without a true understanding of the concept the foregoing detailed analysis. It is our view that a reasonable, objective observer would, after reviewing both the voluminous record in this case, and our narrative, reach the inescapable conclusion that ID is an interesting theological argument, but that it is not science.
The result of this ruling is more than just a ban on ID from the classrooms of Pennsylvania. As it stands, ID is a “supernatural explanation,” which means it falls under the amorphous category of religion. But so what? If it is true, then the story of unguided evolution so fundamental to metaphysical naturalism is false. That seems like a pretty big deal, but what matters more, apparently, is that the science cannot confirm it. I would ask again, “So what?” but it seems everyone has been lead to believe, including philosophers of religion, that science is our most reliable source of knowledge. What else could explain why the question of science is more important than the question of truth? Yet it seems perfectly obvious that the question about truth is more important than the question of science. Therefore, it seems we have at least one good reason to doubt that science is our most reliable source of knowledge. After all, the proposition that science is our most reliable source of knowledge isn’t itself a product of science.
The irony is that ID and “creation science” would have been better served if they had not been introduced as supplements to the science curriculum in public schools. The influence of these ideas are always strongest when they are considered apart from social and political definitions of science, and thought of in terms of how they stand on their own merits.