At the time that I’m writing this, there are 219 comments on Young’s review of my book. (See here for my reply to Young’s review.) I haven’t gone through the comments yet; I’m going to record my thoughts here as I go.
(1) Gary Hurd writes:
Very good review. Very sad that there are nitwits with tenure.
But has Hurd read my book? If not, then how can he fairly evaluate whether Young has accurately characterized my book? And even if Hurd has read my book, I still don’t think he would on that basis have enough evidence to deem me a “nitwit”. I assume that that implies a certain lack of intellectual ability, but to determine that, I’d think that Hurd would want to read at least a fair sample of my ~25 published articles in philosophy. Even if Young’s review is right, perhaps I’m just the sort of person with a mixed record — I’ve written a number of good articles and a bad book. I don’t see how that would justify the characterization of me as a “nitwit” (as opposed to, say, the characterization of my hypothetically bad book as “the sort of thing a nitwit would write”).
(2) Glen Davidson writes:
But it’s bizarre that Monton lumps biological ID and cosmological ID together, because cosmological ID deals with the real problem that the universe is not adequately explained, while biological ID deals with their real problem that life is adequately explained (there are gaps in knowledge, but the theoretical parameters we have appear to be adequate at our present level of knowledge).
Well, I don’t lump them together; I discuss the cosmological and biological arguments separately in Chapter 3. And I agree that the gaps in our understanding are quite different in the two realms. But with regard to the biological side, there’s one issue I didn’t talk about in the book, because I didn’t feel ready to talk about it, and I still don’t really, but I just wanted to flag it — we don’t have any good understanding of how consciousness can arise in a purely naturalistic, materialistic universe. So I’m not convinced that the theoretical parameters of biology we currently have are really adequate to explain all that we know about life.
(3) RDK writes:
Unfortunately Monton is just another example of why philosophers are useless creatures. Add him to the list of people outside of science who think they can tell scientists how to go about their business.
How am I telling scientists how to go about their business? I’m disagreeing with what some scientists say about intelligent design, but just because someone doesn’t have a PhD in a science, it doesn’t follow that they’re not allowed to disagree with someone who does have a PhD in a science.
(4) Wheels writes:
I don’t really agree with the philosopher-bashing going on. On another note, I just found out that Monton is associated with ARN, the Discovery Institute’s mouthpiece in the philosophy community.
Yes, the philosopher-bashing was a little much, wasn’t it? And for the record, I’m not associated with ARN — they asked if they could put me on their “featured authors” page, and I said “yes”. Charles Darwin is also on their “featured authors” page, so I figured it wasn’t a problem.
(5) raven writes:
I wonder if Monton is trying to finagle some Templeton foundation money. They seem desperate to find people who aren’t the usual creationist lunatics.
No, I’m doing just fine financially, thanks. But anyways, my understanding was that the Templeton Foundation didn’t like intelligent design. If I decided I wanted to get Templeton money, I would write like Paul Davies does — with vague suggestions that physics provides evidence of a more fundamental spiritual reality. Anyone who’s read my book will see that that’s not at all what I’m doing.
(6) Robinson writes:
Personally, I ascribe to “Lastthursdayism”. Everything and everyone was created instantly with complete memories. Bradley Monton only thinks he remembers writing “Seeking God in Science” and you only think you remember receiving a proof copy of the book last Spring. See? It explains everything completely.
I would say “I like it!” but that would just lead to more philosophy-bashing. :) More seriously, there is a whole philosophical literature on skepticism, and on how best to reply to it. This book is a good place to start.
(7) Paul Burnett writes:
But I cannot understand how Monton, purportedly an atheist, could determine that the “Intelligent Designer” is Jehovah, the Creator God of Genesis.
(Monton is working with the same information dataset used by another eminent philosopher, Harun Yahya, who has come to a slightly different conclusion.)
Of course Monton is a closet intelligent design creationist. And as a cultivated tool of the Dishonesty Institute, his authentication certificate as an atheist seems to have expired.
This doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m not a Christian, and even if it turns out that intelligent design is true, that is compatible with the designer being non-Christian, or even non-supernatural.
Also, for the record, Yahya is not an eminent philosopher, and as far as I can tell he and I have very different beliefs about the nature of reality.
Also, I’m not an intelligent design proponent, I’m not a cultivated tool of the Discovery Institute (they’ve never given me money or advice), and I am an atheist. If there were authentication certificates, I’d show you mine.
(8) Frank J writes:
Has anyone asked him simple questions about “what happened when”? Michael Behe, Hugh Ross and Ken Ham take 3 mutually contradictory positions. Surely Monton should be able to take a “best guess” as to which, if any of those 3 are correct.
Anyone who has read my book would have no doubt as to what I’d say here, but for the record, I’d agree with Behe.
(9) TomS writes:
Is there any defense of ID in the book? A defense of ID would presuppose a description of it, and that would be something new.
I do give a well-thought-out description of ID, and it is something new! This is what Young is talking about when he writes “[Monton] devotes what seems like an interminable chapter trying to tell the ID creationists exactly what they are saying”. I do go on for a bit on the topic, but that’s because I’m motivated by TomS-style thinking — one needs to say more precisely what the content of intelligent design theory is, and intelligent design proponents haven’t done a good job saying that.
(10) Matt Young weighs in, thankfully:
I don’t want this to sound like damning with faint praise, but Professor Monton is not a nitwit, and he is not a creationist. I apologize if I made him appear to be either. …
I still think it is not a good book, but that is at least in part because its author is too credulous and studiously avoids the clear fact that ID creationism is a political movement, not a scientific or philosophical movement, and not because he is a creationist, closet or otherwise.
Thanks Matt! Blog comments can get out of hand sometimes. Where I disagree with Matt is that I think intelligent design is a scientific or philosophical theory (it doesn’t matter to the truth of intelligent design which category you put it in), and as such I think the theory should be evaluated on its merits.
OK, this has been fun, but I need to go. I’ll respond to more comments later.