Opponents of ID often argue against ID on the basis that it is not science.  Of course, the definition of science itself is disputable, and it is often disputed.  This is largely a red herring, however, because it shifts the focus away from the merits of ID arguments to the classification of those arguments.  As Thomas Nagel has written, “A purely semantic classification of a hypothesis or its denial as belonging or not to science is of limited interest to someone who wants to know whether the hypothesis is true or false.”[1]

While I think ID is a scientific conclusion, I do not wish to debate here whether ID properly qualifies as science, or whether it is better classified as religion/philosophy.  The question I want to raise is how scientists would respond if it could be demonstrated that ID is both properly categorized as religion/philosophy and ID is true.  Would scientists cease discussing certain subjects in science class?  Would they stop discussing the origin of life or origin of species?  In my estimation, this is doubtful.  I think most would continue to offer naturalistic explanations for these objects because their definition of science requires them to.  After all, if by definition alone science must provide naturalistic answers for all natural phenomena, then scientists must continue to offer naturalistic explanations for all phenomena—even phenomena  ID would have proven do not have naturalistic explanations.

This exposes the lunacy of methodological naturalism: It requires scientists to offer a certain kind of explanation, even if it is not the right explanation.  I contend that scientists must decide what they are more committed to: the principle of methodological naturalism, or truth itself.  If they are more committed to methodological naturalism, then they need to make the public aware that scientific explanations aren’t necessarily true explanations.  If they are more committed to truth, however, then they should stop defining science by methodological naturalism, and allow for the possibility that a designing intelligence is the cause of some natural phenomena if the evidence points to such.  Once methodological naturalism no longer serves to demarcate science from non-science, there is no principled reason to exclude ID as a “scientific” theory.


[1]Thomas Nagel, “Public Education and Intelligent Design”, 195. Cf. Alvin Plantinga, “Whether ID Is Science Isn’t Semantics”; available from http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=3331.