Archaeology and Creationism (YEC and ID)

Christopher O’Brien has a most read post on Archaeology and Creationism I’ll quote a part of it:

A lot of hard methodological and theoretical work has gone into understanding the signatures of human intervention in the natural world. The larger lessons of human “design” tell us more about the constraints on the designers rather than their abilities. More importantly, archaeologists never separate the design from the designer: understanding the material culture is only a proximate goal of archaeology. Archaeology’s ultimate goal is to understand human behavior, i.e. the nature of the designer. To suggest that direct study of the Designer is irrelevant is intellectual cowardice.

I, for one, am happy to see the Archaeology community take notice of the way creationists are abusing the science of archaeology to further their own agenda. As Chris points out, if we limit ourselves to the approach of ID (we can only infer design and not the traits and characteristics of the designer) we would be abandoning the whole point of archaeology…
Oh, and be sure to check out his post on “Intelligent Design” and childbirth (not the eyebaby type either)…an argument sure to make cause fundie head explosions…

Added Later: RBH supplied the link above and since he is having trouble commenting I’ll post his attached comments (which I wholeheartedly agree with):
It’s the first and fourth points in his analysis that are most critical for this issue.

First, of course, is the assault on science in general, and historical sciences in particular, that ID creationists are orchestrating. Archaeology is no less vulnerable to that general assault than biology.
Second, ID creationism proponents repeatedly argue that there are “special sciences” that have as their goal to “detect design” in the same way ID purportedly does, and archaeology figures prominently in that list. IDists enlist archaeology to establish the legitimacy of their methodology — they tell the world that they’re doing the same thing archaeologists do, except they’re looking at biological phenomena.
The first point should rouse archaeologists to do something, while the second suggests what they can do: emphasize that the ID “methodology” is not that of archaeology, and that archaeological methods are directly antithetical to the IDists’ claim that properties of the Designer are not accessible to study.

5 Responses

  1. You get ID fans citing forensic science as well as their means of detecting ‘intelligence’ behind life’s ‘functional complexity’ without explaining why a methodology/model used specifically for determining human-enacted crimes can be transposed onto biological systems. And why you challenge them, they say ‘is not forensics science?’

  2. The difference being that in general forensic science will make concrete conjectures (which may be hypotheses) whereas ID makes rarefied claims.
    Rarefied claims (such as the Theory of Evolution) can be restated as meta-conjectures (“evolutionary hypotheses will always be better – more predictive and/or parsimonious – than non-evolutionary hypotheses at explaining the diversity of life”), which may themselves be hypotheses. The ID meta-conjecture is not an hypothesis as it’s not falsifiable. Hence it won’t be scientific unless it’s actually verified.
    Or something like that…

  3. Dang! And all this time I thought Douglas Adams had it right!

  4. Why are you people even discussing creationism. It’s a load for the deranged. I was looking for serious discussion. Obviously, you do not qualify.

  5. You were looking for a serious discussion of something you consider a load for the deranged?
    I think it’s pretty clear to anybody who actually read the post that it was merely a pointer to an interesting discussion elsewhere on the net. I’ll answer your question anyway. We were discussing creationism because it is still a threat to science education – ID is one of its more recent manifestations. Wether one thinks it is a “load for the deranged” or not it still needs to be confronted.

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