Frequently Unanswered Questions about Intelligent Design

Frequently Unanswered Questions about Intelligent Design

I’ve started putting together a list of questions about Intelligent Design that ID proponents have yet to answer, as far as I know.

Some of these questions are fairly basic, such as “what is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design?”, “Who is the designer?”, and “What is the lesson plan for teaching ID?” If IDists can’t give sensible answers to questions like these, what the hell are they doing pushing it in public schools?

Here, for instance, William Dembski posts an email message he received from a journalist asking what I thought were excellent questions:

– Is there a concrete research program (in the sense of Imre Lakatos) for ID that sets crucial experiments or discoveries on the agenda with which ID could be hardened while at the same time evolution theory would be weakened?

– Is there a crucial experiment or discovery that could falsify ID in Popper’s sense? As far as I can see it neo-darwinian evolution theory’s falsifying discovery would be one that undoubtably reveals design – that is ID is the possible falsification of neo-darwinian evolution theory.

But by way of answer, Dembski merely says,

(Note that I emailed this reporter a few documents in answer to his questions)

I’ve asked for an answer, but unfortunately Dembski has taken to either deleting my comments on his weblog, or not having them be displayed. Is his ego so fragile that he can’t even stand to see someone request clarification or further information?

If you have any further suggestions or answers, please submit them. Serious answers preferred, but snark can be entertaining.

One thought on “Frequently Unanswered Questions about Intelligent Design

  1. I attended an on campus lecture by a Discovery Institute guy about 10 years ago, before anybody took them seriously. I was struck by the flaws in their statistical methods. They would calculate probabilities by compounding the probabilities of unrelated variables, and as I understand it, results of such exercises are meaningless.

  2. I read Dembski’s paper, Specificity: the Pattern that Signifies Intelligence (and reviewed it here).

    It was going reasonably well (or at least better than I expected) for several pages, until he tried to disprove evolution by showing that a bacterial flagellum could not have arisen by chance. That is, it is very unlikely that all of its constituent atoms would have come together in that precise pattern. “Tornado in a junkyard”, for short.

  3. About Intelligent Design (ID)

    ID is most often and wrongly linked to God and creationism, as opposed to Darwinism and evolutionism. We are there in fact facing an old philosophical problem transposed this time from man to the universe: the difficult and even impossible distinction between what is innate and what is acquired. But the reader of my pages will perhaps agree that evolutionism is not in contradiction with all forms of ID. As a materialist, I think that the confrontation between both concepts is sterile and that a synthesis is even possible.
    If any great complexity of a feature could not exclude evolutionism, science itself could not reject some forms of ID in the evolution of the universe, at least in some steps of the process. After all, man himself is already a local actor in this evolution, an actor showing little intelligence so far (global warming, life sciences …). He could however be led to play a greater and nobler part if he succeeds to survive long enough (dissemination of life in the cosmos, “terraforming” of planets, planetary and even stellar formation, artificial beings…). The development of this kind of “draft ID” could only be limited by our refusal to do so and by our ability to survive. We would be viewed as gods by our ancestors from the middle Ages, and we would also view our descendants as gods if we could return in a few hundreds or thousands years.
    By his refusal to consider that intelligence could already have played a significant part in the evolution of this universe, man takes in fact for granted that he is the most advanced being. It is in fact just another way for placing himself once again in the middle of everything, as for the Earth before Galileo. This anthropocentric view is not very rational.
    Within the frame of evolutionism, the concept of ID could however be applied to the future man if he manages to survive long enough to be able to play a significant part in the evolution of this solar system, in the galaxy, and why not more. And it could also apply to eventual advanced ET preceding man in this cosmic part, advanced ET who could for instance, thanks to their science, have already played a significant part, even if they were themselves born from random processes.
    Without going back to a controversial God, pure intelligence born from random processes is so far too easily ignored in the evolution of this universe, and I think that this choice has more to do with faith in man’s solitude in the universe than with true science. Even if it appears later that the ID concept has yet never been used by other beings in this universe, what could prevent man from applying it in the future? As with the Big Bang, ID would certainly remain in the field of hypotheses, but science progresses that way, and it would not be scientific to exclude one hypothesis that could be quite credible. ID is too easily discarded and laughed at, somewhat like continental drift not long ago, and a lot of other concepts too.
    Benoit Lebon

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