Whose Pseudoscience?

I’ve been following the recent controversy at Ball State University (BSU) surrounding physics professor Eric Hedin’s “Boundaries of Science” class with great interest, and increasingly, disgust.

Following a peer panel review of the controversial course, BSU president Jo Ann Gora announced that Hedin would no longer be allowed to offer his science elective to members of the university’s Honors College.

This paragraph from Gora’s announcement is what really gets my goat:

Creation science and intelligent design represent worldviews that fall outside of the realm of science that is defined as (and limited to) a method of inquiry based on gathering observable and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. Creation science, intelligent design, and other worldviews that focus on speculation regarding the origins of life represent another important and relevant form of human inquiry that is appropriately studied in literature and social science courses. Such study, however, must include a diversity of worldviews representing a variety of religious and philosophical perspectives and must avoid privileging one view as more legitimate than others.

Science is, as Gora observes, an empirical study of the material world. One might think, then—as this former NASA education manager and astrophysics PhD does—that the science classroom is not the place for discussions of the philosophy of science: its limits, and what it can and cannot in principle determine.

Fair enough.

What’s baffling to me is how the aggressive, materialistic reductionism of Richard Dawkins & co. is somehow not seen as exactly what it is: philosophical truth-claims masquerading as science (in this case, biology).

Is there a more intolerant, self-insulated, unscientific intellectual paradigm than that which the evolutionary biologists have constructed in order to silence anyone in the academy who doesn’t buy into their militantly atheistic program?

I’m currently working through philosopher Thomas Nagel’s excellent little book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False . In it, Nagel—an avowed atheist and no friend of intelligent design theory—challenges the status quo doctrine that is being force fed to students across the country as the only scientifically-responsible response to the data.

Had Jo Ann Gora looked twice at her own statement, she would have realized that if the italicized sentences above are true, then, for the sake of consistency, the philosophical doctrine of materialism should be banned from the science classroom as well.

Who’s being pseudoscientific, again?






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