Thanks to John Wests blog, my op-ed on the Dover decision is getting some attention. A couple of people have emailed me the link to this attempt at fisking my piece by Timothy Sandefur, who should be known to a couple of NLT contributors.
I have to say that Im not persuaded by Mr. Sandefurs attempt at deconstruction. Heres the core of his argument:
Knippenberg argues that the argument for design “is an argument from reason,” but of course it is not. Positing a supernatural cause is not an argument from reason, but an argument from faith, since it depends necessarily on an Entity which is beyond nature and beyond comprehension. Still, this is not relevant. The Constitution, after all, does not make a distinction between the state endorsing a religious viewpoint for “religious” reasons as opposed to endorsing a religious viewpoint for purportedly “rational” reasons.
I dont know where to begin. If you argue rationally that there must have been an uncaused cause, youre not making a religious argument. And while its true that an uncaused cause cant be explained in "naturalistic" terms (that is, by means of a cause-and-effect sequence), there are philosophical arguments and explanations that dont simply rely on material and efficient causes. If everything that isnt science must be religion, then Mr. Sandefur has a very crabbed understanding of how we can rationally attempt to understand the world.
Now, if ID falls into this tradition, which can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle, then its not simply a religious argument. And if its not simply a religious argument--if its a rational philosophical argument--then teaching it in the schools, or just mentioning it as an alternative to Darwinism, doesnt amount to an establishment of religion. If this part of his argument fails, then the rest of his argument fails. The fact that hes a lawyer and Im not--of which he makes much--is irrelevant. The fact that he and Judge Jones both dont give much evidence of understanding philosophy--crucial in this case--points, as I say in my op-ed, to the need for lawyers to be liberally educated (though I dont mean to say that Hillsdale College didnt try to provide him with a liberal education).
What think you, gentle readers?