Archives For Intelligent Design

Author Information: William T. Lynch, Wayne State University,

Lynch, William T. “Complexity, Natural Selection, and Cultural Evolution.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 3 (2016): 64-72.

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Image credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões, via flickr

Peter Taylor begins his reply to me by objecting to Steve Fuller’s intelligent design-based critique of the intelligibility of science—which is the object of my criticism.[1] He argues that Fuller’s own point of view does not make sense and that intelligent design should lead one to lack motivation to study nature since God can just change the rules at any point. That, of course, depends upon what God is taken to choose to do. In any event, I certainly cannot be expected to make a case for Fuller’s argument that is stronger than the one he presents.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: William T. Lynch, Wayne State University,

Lynch, William T. “Darwinian Social Epistemology: Science and Religion as Evolutionary Byproducts Subject to Cultural Evolution.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 2 (2016): 26-68.

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Image credit: Susanne Nilsson, via flickr


Key to Steve Fuller’s recent defense of intelligent design is the claim that it alone can explain why science is even possible. By contrast, Fuller argues that Darwinian evolutionary theory posits a purposeless universe which leaves humans with no motivation to study science and no basis for modifying an underlying reality. I argue that this view represents a retreat from insights about knowledge within Fuller’s own program of social epistemology. I show that a Darwinian picture of science, as also of religion, can be constructed that explains how these complex social institutions emerged out of a process of biological and cultural evolution. Science and religion repurpose aspects of our evolutionary inheritance to the new circumstances of more complex societies that have emerged since the Neolithic revolution.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Gregory Sandstrom, European Humanities University,

Sandstrom, Gregory. “Steve Fuller’s False Hope in IDism: The Discovery Institute’s Anti-Transhumanism.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 10 (2015): 1-7.

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Image credit: Provided by Gregory Sandstrom (source unknown)

“I’m not machine. I’m not man. I’m more.” — John Connor (Terminator Genisys 2015)

While I have been gradually working on a couple of other articles related to SERRC posts (Frodeman 2015 and Eglash 2015) that challenge Steve Fuller’s embrace of ‘Intelligent Design’[1] (ID), this one is the easiest to finish due to the starkness of the problem. The Discovery Institute (DI), home of the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM), has been beating its anti-trans-humanism PR drum in recent years. Fuller, on the other hand, has made pro-trans-humanism into one of the main topics of his recent work, indeed calling it now a “full-blown ideology” in his and Lipinska’s The Proactionary Imperative (2014, v).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, University of Warwick,

Fuller, Steve. “Who Needs the Science Wars When You’ve Got This on the Homefront?” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 3 (2015): 40-42.

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There probably is not much more to say beyond this point because Eglash (2015) has shifted the original frame of reference too much. First of all, leave Voltaire out of it. I was not objecting to Eglash’s right to say that Science and Technology Studies (STS) practitioners should speak against creationists (for whatever reason). I was not even objecting to any criticism he might have to my participation in the 2005 intelligent design (ID) trial (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District). I was opposing a motion he placed before the STS membership that would have its would-be professional body, the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), come out against ID/creationism. Not only would this be out of character for 4S, which has refused all previous efforts at becoming ‘professional’ in any serious sense, but also the grounds that Eglash et al. offered for denouncing ID/creationism amounted simply to ID/creationists’ having turned STS principles to their own advantage. When I said that Eglash et al. were ‘out of their depth’, I was referring specifically to this framing of their proposal—not to my superior erudition (blah, blah). Eglash et al. appear to have expected ID/creationists to be dumber than they turned out to be, or put another way, they were prima facie unwilling to extend to ID/creationists the same epistemic charity that they gladly extend to indigenous peoples.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, University of Warwick,

Fuller, Steve. “Science Without Expertise: Defending My Defence of Intelligent Design (Nearly) a Decade Later.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 10 (2014): 22-29.

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Since early 2005, when I was first recruited to act as an ‘expert witness’ for the defence in what became the landmark US case on intelligent design, Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, my career has taken some curious but always interesting turns, most recently a plenary session at the 2014 European Society for the Philosophy of Religion conference, during which I declared an abiding interest in God as opposed to religion. On several occasions over the past nine years I have responded to my numerous critics, a combination of academics and non-academics, all claiming to know a science when they see it. My omnibus reflection on the academic response was published in 2008 in Spontaneous Generations, the house journal of the University of Toronto’s History & Philosophy of Science and Technology Department. In what follows, I address an article that appears in the September 2014 issue of the French sociology journal, Socio, dedicated to ‘chercheurs à la barre’ (‘researchers at the bar’). My response, largely reproduced below, is also published (in French) in that issue, along with a brief reply by the article’s authors, two young French social historians, Volny Fages and Arnaud Saint-Martin (hereafter ‘the authors’), who entitled their original piece ‘Jouer l’expert à la barre : l’épistémologie sociale de Steve Fuller au service de l’ intelligent design’ (‘Playing the expert at the bar: Steve Fuller’s social epistemology in the service of intelligent design’).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Taner Edis, Truman State University,

Edis, Taner. “On Harmonizing Religion and Science: A Reply to Bigliardi.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no.2 (2014): 40-43.

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Stefano Bigliardi presents an interesting discussion of what he calls a “new generation” of harmonizers of Islam and science. Let me attempt two comparisons that might help put this new generation into context. First, I think it is interesting to compare these latest attempts to establish harmony to other recent developments in adapting Islam to modern circumstances. Second, I will suggest what the equivalents of the new generation might be in a Christian environment.

The Muslim Middle East has a history of women’s movements criticizing rigid gender roles prescribed by traditional religion, which have hoped to take advantage of the modernization process. The older generations of feminists in Muslim lands — until the mid- to late twentieth century — have tended to hail from among westernized, educated elites. Hence their feminism had a secular character. They assumed that an expanded public presence for women was compatible with a modernist interpretation of Islam. But secular feminists were usually not greatly interested in detailed reinterpretations of sacred texts. They often bypassed religious institutions, engaging instead with westernized state structures (Badran 2009).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Ryan Cochrane, SERRC,

Church, George. 2013. “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? An Interview with George Church, Ryan Cochrane” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (7): 28-30, 15 June.

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George M. Church is an American geneticist and molecular engineer. He is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and his is widely regarded as a pioneer in cutting-edge genetics and synthetic biology.  Dr. Church participated in the “Life: What a Concept!” seminar with thinkers such as Freeman Dyson and Craig Venter. [1]

David Klinghoffer is a member of the Discovery Institute, a think-tank that claims to provide a center for “scientists and scholars challenging Darwin’s theory of evolution on the basis of science.” Dr. Steve Meyer, the author of Darwin’s Doubt is the Director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Is there anything in particular that draws you to his work? Are you familiar with his earlier book Signature in the Cell?

Yes, I had read Signature in the Cell before David and Steve sent Darwin’s Doubt. The latter restates large parts of the former and then extends it with more detail, especially in the direction of multicellular evolution. I’m drawn to efforts to define gaps in otherwise compelling theories and thereby provoke applications of new technologies to try to fill those gaps. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Ryan Cochrane,

Fuller, Steve. 2013. “The Origin and Prospect of a Principled Future: An Interview with Steve Fuller, Ryan Cochrane.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (6): 12-17, 12 May.

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The SERRC thanks Denyse O’Leary, Ryan Cochrane and Steve Fuller for permission to post this slightly expanded version of “TBS interviews sociologist who studies ID—and he isn’t what you might think” from TheBestSchools.Org Blog. [1]

Ryan Cochrane (RC): Why does Darwinism pose a much greater threat to the future of humanity than religion? Isn’t this the exact opposite of what people like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens are saying?

Steve Fuller (SF): Yes, it is the exact opposite. Dawkins and Hitchens betray a remarkable sociological ignorance. They treat ‘religion’ as if it were some sort of anti- or pre-scientific ideology, when in fact it is simply the generic name for any complex social organization that is held together over large expanses of space and time without depending on the existence of the nation-state. Not surprisingly, ‘religion’ in this properly broad sense has been responsible for enormous good and evil in the course of history. Once this is kept in mind, it should be clear that there is no specifically ‘religious’ gene or bit of the brain to be found (which then one might treat as a pathology in need of cure).

In particular, religions do not require belief in a deity, let alone one that is transcendent of the natural world. To be sure, belief in a transcendent deity is an interesting thing to explain, and may have an important basis in our genes and brains. However, this belief is not specifically ‘religious’ but is also common to modern science, especially in its quest to acquire what Thomas Nagel has called ‘the view from nowhere’, which is a fair characterisation of the Newtonian project and all its subsequent revisions in the history of physics. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, Homepage:

Fuller, Steve. 2013. “What’s the Difference between the Second Coming and Humanity 2.0? Response to Winyard.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (3): 8-14.

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David Winyard (2013) is correct to say that trying to reconcile the claims of theology and biology in any understanding of the human condition is bound to be an unhappy affair. He forgot to add that this is especially true, if both sides insist on operating with a backward-looking conception of what it means to be human. Transhumanism is interesting — and challenging to both sides — precisely because of its resolutely forward look at the human. In the end, the transhumanist treats the human past, including what both theologians (qua “original sin”) and biologists (qua “evolutionary history”) might call our “inheritance”, as raw material out of which — along with some other ingredients — Humanity 2.0 might be built.

Here it is worth recalling that until the molecular (DNA) revolution in biology in the 1950s, it was common to think of our genetic makeup as a “burden”, very much like sin, that had to be suffered through or perhaps mitigated through propitious changes in one’s environment. The only other alternative course of action was some form of genocide. Modern drama after Ibsen brought this world-view into middle class drawing rooms. And of course, the violent directions in which eugenics — the prototype for today’s transhumanist projects — was often drawn in the first half of the 20th century projected these burdens of the flesh onto the world’s political stage. But already in 1943, Erwin Schrödinger’s Dublin lecture, “What Is Life?” had proposed that life is more an exploratory search for biochemically stable possibilities than the sort of path-dependent journeys either started (in religious terms) by Adam’s deed or pursued (in scientific terms) by Darwin’s theory. Despite speaking from the standpoint of a theoretical physicist for whom data are generated by thought experiments, Schrödinger’s vision managed to recruit a generation of molecular revolutionaries by providing a new take on the meaning of life — or at least resurrecting an older one that allowed humanity to recover its creative responsibility for life, as per a strong reading of the imago dei doctrine. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Gregory Sandstrom, Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, , Thomas Basbøll, Independent Scholar, Copenhagen, Denmark,, Emma Craddock, University of Nottingham, , and Eric O. Scott, George Mason University,

Sandstrom, Gregory, Thomas Basbøll, Emma Craddock and Eric O. Scott. 2012. “Intelligent design as social epistemology: Collective judgment forum.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 1 (7): 1-11.

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“There is a sociological dimension to science and to the prospering [or failure] of scientific theories.” – William Dembski (2002)

“[N]ot every statement by a scientist is a scientific statement.” – Michael Behe (2005)

To consider intelligent design (ID) as social epistemology (SE), we will look at those elements related to it that are social, or collective or group-oriented.

The 1993 meeting in Pajaro Dunes, California organised by Phillip Johnson with 14 participants set the stage for an “intelligent design movement” (IDM) of scientists, scholars, activists and PR-figures that oppose neo-Darwinian evolutionary theories and the ideology of naturalism. As Stephen C. Meyer writes: “At Pajaro Dunes, ‘the movement’ congealed.” (2008, 229) Paul Nelson suggests that a “person is welcome to join the community [IDM]. The admission price is minimal: one need only allow for the possibility of design.” (original emphasis, 2005) Continue Reading…