In a forthcoming article in Santa Clara Law Review vol. 49 (2009)--"The Courts, Natural Rights, and Religious Claims as Knowledge"--I spell out in a footnote my views on intelligent design. I decided to finally address this directly in an academic article because of the continued false portrayal of my views by several writers as well as by the anonymous and unaccountable "authors" of my Wikipedia entry. Because of my article's topic and the arguments and court cases I address, this article provided me, for the first time, with an opportunity to offer in a widely disseminated academic periodical a brief and clarifying footnote about my views that are in harmony with the article's purpose.
This is what I write:
Despite my interest in this subject and my sympathy for the ID movement’s goal to dismantle materialism and its deleterious implications on our understanding of what is real and what counts as knowledge, I am not, and have never been, a proponent of ID. My reasons have to do with my philosophical opposition to the ID movement’s acquiescence to the modern idea that an Enlightenment view of science is the paradigm of knowledge. By seeming to agree with their materialist foes that the mind or intellect cannot have direct knowledge of real immaterial universals, such as natures, essences, and moral properties, many in the ID movement seem to commit the same mistake as the one committed by the late medieval nominalists such as William of Ockham, who gave us what is often called “Ockham’s razor,” though Ockham himself did not offer this precise formulation: “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate” (translated: “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”). See Paul Vincent Spade, William of Ockham, in STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY § 4.1 (Edward N. Zalta ed., 2008) . According to many scholars, the practical consequence of “Ockham’s razor” is that claims about a thing’s nature, purpose, or intrinsic dignity—universal properties it shares with other things of the same sort—are “unnecessary” for our scientific investigation of the world because they don’t add anything of explanatory importance to our direct empirical observations. See, e.g., RICHARD M. WEAVER, IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES 44 (1948). But if one thinks of science as the only or best way of knowing, then these claims are not “knowledge” and thus not real objects of academic inquiry. This is a death knell for dogmatic and moral theology as actual knowledge traditions. Although I continue to maintain that ID advocates raise important questions about the nature of science and whether science should presuppose naturalism (namely, the view that all that exists is the material universe and that there is no mind, such as God, behind it), I have doubts about ID’s answers and whether these answers can offer an attractive alternative to the inadequacies of the Enlightenment for the rationality of religious belief.
And for this reason, I say in another footnote:
Even if one finds Dawkins’s views flawed, as I do, one need not embrace the arguments of ID advocates in order to rationally embrace intrinsic purpose or even design. See, e.g., LEON R. KASS, The Permanent Limits of Biology, in LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE DEFENSE OF DIGNITY: THE CHALLENGE FOR BIOETHICS 277 (2002); Michael W. Tkacz, Thomas Aquinas vs. the Intelligent Designers: What Is God’s Finger Doing in My Pre-Biotic Soup?, in INTELLIGENT DESIGN: SCIENCE OR RELIGION? CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES 275 (Robert M. Baird & Stuart E. Rosenbaum eds., 2007).