As an atheist who’s giving a partial defense of intelligent design, I’ve sometimes been accused of being intellectually dishonest. I want to assure you that I’m not — in academic contexts, at least, I try very hard to ensure that everything that I say I believe. Steve Fuller is another apparent non-theist who has tried to defend intelligent design (most notably when he testified on behalf of the school board at the Dover trial). Fuller, unlike me, is intellectually insincere.
Given that I try to avoid the name-calling and emotional rhetoric that is disturbingly common in the intelligent design debates, how do I justify calling Steve Fuller insincere? Well, he admits it himself, in this article. For example, he writes:
I take seriously the idea that holding beliefs, understood as informed mental dispositions, is only one among several ways at our disposal to access, however fallibly, the truth. Another, occasionally more effective, way is to defend a position one does not believe. Needless to say, you will find it hard to accept my argument, if you regard a Romantic virtue like sincerity as part of the MO [modus operandi] of a truth-seeker.
And in case that’s not clear enough for you, he also writes:
for purposes of truth-seeking, what really matters is that we are willing to defend, or ideally justify, whatever we say – regardless of whether we believe it.
And, in case Fuller hasn’t made it completely clear, there’s this:
So, then, how do I determine what to say? Here is a handy step-by-step procedure:
- What has been already said – especially said well and recently? Whatever you do, don’t say those things.
- What could you say of significance that hasn’t been said?
- Of those things, which ones could you get away with saying?
- Of those things, which ones are you willing to develop further in the face of various forms of resistance?
- Of those things, which ones come with a pretext likely to promote maximum exposure, participation and impact?
- That’s what you say – and Godspeed!
To be honest, I find this this sort of intellectual insincerity to be appalling. (I’m not sure how much more I can say without getting into what might be perceived as emotional rhetoric.)
Fuller has recently been blogging at Uncommon Descent, the main blog for intelligent design proponents. I wonder if they’re really aware of who they’re bringing on board?