I have been reading Stephen F. Mason’s A History of the Sciences and at the end of the chapter on Galileo’s work in mechanics he juxtaposes Kepler and Galileo writing:
Kepler was primarily concerned with making astronomy more precise and accurate technically, whilst Galileo was mainly interested in propagating the intellectual revolution inaugurated by Copernicus….
The nature of Galileo’s interests helps to explain why he largely abandoned the mathematical method in astronomy, and concentrated upon making qualitative telescopic observations. Any person could see the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and the mountains on the moon, with a telescope, but only skilled mathematicians could be convinced by Kepler’s findings that the heliocentric theory was essentially correct. (163-164)
If the analogy is not illicit, I believe I have found a crucial distinction between myself and many ID scholars here paralleled. In my research I have been concerned to place ID theory into a well-formed epistemology of science. In doing so, like Kepler, I have been concerned with the more technical, philosophical (rather than mathematical) elements of the theory. These technicalities are, perhaps, only convincing to those who are “skilled in philosophy.”
It seems that many ID theorists, concerned as they are to “propagate an intellectual revolution” desire simply to point to the empirical merits and mathematical cogency of their ideas. This makes them, in my experience, impatient with the more fine-grained philosophical technicalities that do not rise to the level of quantitative evaluation.
The danger of this unhappy dynamic is that if there really are subtle philosophical distinctions that shift the tenor of the debate, and these distinctions are persistently overlooked, then the ID theoretic has been artificially restrained from its fullest possible effect.
The above passage from Mason, for me, rang eerily familiar. Though I must admit that it was also comforting since I now recognize that my frustrating interactions with those I seek to aid have, at their core, something as commonplace as differing motivations. [Dr. Bridges is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Ph.D. Program at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC.]