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Frequently Unanswered Questions about Intelligent Design

There's been a lot of talk about Intelligent Design (ID) lately. However, some important and fairly basic questions seem to have gone unanswered.

If you have any answers to these questions, or wish to contribute new ones, please send mail to arensb@ooblick.com.

General Questions

  1. What is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design?
    1. What testable predictions does ID make? (Notes)
    2. What observation could, in principle, falsify ID?
  2. What research is currently being done in the field of ID?
  3. What experiments have been performed to test ID?
    1. What experiments could be performed to test ID, if adequate funding and/or equipment were available? What would be required to perform these experiments?
    2. What experiments could, in principle, be performed to test ID, but cannot, because of technological limitations? What technology would be required to carry them out?
  4. What papers on ID have been published in peer-reviewed research journals? (Notes)
    1. Many papers submitted to research journals are rejected. How many papers on ID have been submitted to peer-reviewed research journals?
    2. Were they rejected? If so, what did the rejection notices say? Could the papers be rewritten to correct the reviewers' objections and resubmitted?
  5. What technological advances might come out of ID?
  6. Are there any practical applications of ID theory?
    1. Archeologists often have trouble determining whether a given stone is a primitive arrowhead, or merely a chipped piece of rock. Can ID help distinguish designed rock tools from undesigned ones?
    2. In cryptography, SETI, and other mathematical disciplines, it would be very useful to be able to distinguish random signals from messages. How can ID help in these areas?
  7. How does ID account for suboptimal or bad design, such as the blind spot in human eyes? (Notes)
  8. How does ID account for instances of design that are at odds with each other, e.g., the mechanisms that bacteria use to attack animal organisms, and the immune system that fights these attacks?
  9. Is Homo sapiens the product of any design events unique to it? If so, what are they?


  1. What is design? What is intelligence? Does design imply a designer? Does design imply an intelligent designer? If so, why?
    1. Researchers in cognitive science have done work on finding out how humans recognize artifacts (designed objects, as opposed to natural objects, people, animals, etc.). This has a direct bearing on how to recognize design. Have ID proponents used any of this research in their own work? If not, why not?
  2. What is Irreducible Complexity (IC)? How can it be objectively detected?
  3. How is IC relevant to the theory of ID?
  4. What is Specified Complexity? How is it calculated? In what units is it measured?
  5. Provide a sample calculation of the specified complexity in some simple object, such a spoon, or a trivial protein consisting of three or four amino acids.
  6. How is Specified Complexity relevant to the theory of ID?
  7. What is Complex Specified Information (CSI)? How is it calculated? In what units is it measured?
  8. Provide a sample calculation of the complex specified information in some simple object, such a spoon, or a trivial protein consisting of three or four amino acids.
  9. How is CSI relevant to the theory of ID?
  10. If any of your answers involve "information": how do you define information? How is it measured or calculated? Please provide a sample calculation as an example or illustration.

The Designer

  1. Who is/are the designer(s)?
  2. How many designers are/were there?
  3. Is the designer necessarily intelligent?
  4. Is the designer necessarily conscious?
  5. Is the designer necessarily alive?
  6. Does the designer exhibit any of the properties (e.g., specified complexity) that led you to conclude that living beings are designed? If so, who or what designed the designer?
  7. When trying whether something is a human artifact, we do so by making assumptions about the human designer's intent (e.g., "this could be an arrowhead for hunting; or it might be an object of worship; or it might be a tool for tanning hides"). What is/was the designer's intent?
  8. If you answered "I don't know" to any of the questions above, how could we learn the answers, given sufficient funding and lab equipment?

The Design Process

  1. How many design events have there been?
  2. When was the first design event?
  3. How often have design events occurred? Have they always occurred at roughly the same frequency, or have there been bursts and lulls?
  4. Are design events still occurring today? If not, when was the last one?
  5. Where have design events occurred?
  6. If one could observe the designer at work, what would it look like? If a design event were to occur today, how would we recognize it?
  7. How many basic types of design event are there? Briefly describe each one.
  8. Did the designer build prototypes? If so, can they be found today? How can they be recognized?
  9. How was design translated from concept to actual implementation?
  10. Has design occurred only on Earth, or elsewhere in the universe as well?

If you advocate teaching ID in science class

  1. Can ID be convincingly taught without ever mentioning evolution? If not, isn't it just a bunch of ad hoc arguments against evolution?
  2. Is there a lesson plan for teaching ID? Where can it be found?

If you advocate "teaching the controversy" in science class

  1. What, exactly, is the scientific controversy over evolution?
  2. Do you also advocate "teaching the controversy" with regards to other topics, such as whether homosexuality is innate or a lifestyle choice? What about the effectiveness of contraception or abstinence?



People who contributed, in no particular order: