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Intelligent Design as “Daft Rube-Bait”: Round 2 with Kevin Williamson

National Review published a second round of my exchange with Kevin Williamson about ID.

Regarding intelligent design as “daft rube-bait,” Kevin Williamson in his reply to me has confused the issue. This is not about an “argument from authority.” To clarify, we can separate out three questions.

One is whether laymen may venture a judgment in what Williamson calls a “technical debate.” The debate is much more than “technical.” It goes to the most important question we can ask: Are we here by chance or design? As I indicated, I cited Buckley et al. not to settle the scientific question but to demonstrate that there is an estimable tradition of not passively allowing our views to be determined by others.

Here’s what is missing: serious public debate. Telling scientists to “slug it out” in professional journals and not try to persuade others is like asking a free market economist to persuade his Marxist colleagues before he dares offer his case to the public. What makes Kevin think entrenched Darwinists are willing even to listen to scientific challenges? He is saying that critics of Darwin should allow themselves to be abused — by non-scientists like Kevin Williamson — and just take it. Why is Williamson such an (entertaining) scourge of experts in other fields, yet eager to accept and amplify the prejudices of Darwinists?

There’s no “conspiracy” here. Scientists are as subject to careerism, groupthink, and status anxiety as anyone else. The hypothesis of purpose in nature is too important to leave to the “experts” alone. We needn’t be impressed by pseudo-Menckenesque put-downs.

Be prepared for some tacky credential-slinging (by me). Read the rest there.

Photo: Kevin Williamson, via Upstream Ideas/YouTube.