Friday, November 17, 2017

Intelligent Design ain't dead yet (though it should be)

I believe there is something to Intelligent Design (ID) as an apologetic. I think most believing scientists and science admirers do. We do look at science and see (more like "feel") design, even in evolution. The more we learn about science, the more we see (feel) God's hand, not less. Where we part ways is when ID is said to have a scientific foundation--that it somehow is science. (It's not.) That is the benign parting of ways. The malignant parting of ways, speaking just for myself, was what I viewed as the dishonesty, machinations and even tribalism of the early 2000's ID leaders--who really poisoned everything about ID with their misbegotten, hugely counterproductive, epic-failing, culture-war attempts to "wedge" it into the science curriculum.

For a brief history of their epic-fails (and they are epic) see the Wedge Document (where their cabal created a five-year super-secret plan to change the world) and the Keystone Cops  cdesign-proponentsists fiasco where they were caught with their fly open and had their dishonesty made manifest.

I have to give them credit, they are resilient in bad-penny sort of way. They have a new strategy to win the war they started with science, and it appears to be an argument from boredom. They are trumpeting  a 1000+ page tome that ID philosopher David Klinghoffer brags:

The quality of Christian literature is getting better and better when it comes to showing that the Bible gets it right. Both theistic and naturalistic evolution are rationally inferior to Intelligent Design theory theologically, philosophically and scientifically. But people don’t know this, so a group of us decided to do the book Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique. (Emphasis added.)

ID proponents have been telling us for years that ID is about science. They were being dishonest of course—ID was nothing more than creationism in a new tuxedo.  But they tried to maintain the fiction.  

If ID is science, as they claim, then I am confused as to how it could be, as Klinghoffer asserts, theologically and philosophically superior to anything. That is like claiming that NASCAR is a better laundry detergent than Formula One racing. ID, they say, it is all about scientific, quantifiable, testable evidence for a design with no (wink, nod) stand taken as to the designer is. 1   On the other hand, judged on the basis of science (their third claim of superiority) they are not even in the same league as evolution, be it naturalistic or theistic, which are the same scientifically. Evolution makes predictions and then does scientific experiments to confirm the predictions. ID does not.

ID really is philosophical/theological, and would have some value if they admitted as much. But they don’t. And yet they are somehow superior in these realms. 

But don’t worry about anything! The last sentence assures us that a group of really smart enlightened people (including Wayne Grudem! What could go wrong?) will correct this massive onslaught of biblical ignorance. Our salvation is at hand.

1Just to be sure I believe there is a designer and the designer is God. What I think is utterly dishonest is to claim that you can scientifically demonstrate design and take no stand as to who the designer is (because you want the "science" to be taken seriously) when everybody and their mother knows you think the designer is God. You just do not find it politically expedient to say so. Dishonesty abounds (apparently still) with the IDers.


  1. Well, and succinctly, said. Thanks.

  2. ID makes scientifically testable claims. And seeing that telic thoughts pre-date creationism plus the fact that ID isn't about the Bible there isn't any way ID is creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

    That said evolution by means of blind and mindless processes is devoid of predictive power. It is also devoid of a testable mechanism that could have produced the diversity of life. Heck even given starting populations of prokaryotes it doesn't have a mechanism capable of producing anything more than prokarytotes.

    And finally Intelligent Design is NOT anti-evolution

  3. Good post, Dave. Pleased you're writing again!

    1. Rich, great to hear from you!

    2. You should pop by The Skeptical Zone and see if it takes your fancy.

    3. The Skeptical Zone where they treat easily refuted articles from talk origins as undeniable authority and refuse to listen to the obvious refutations.

  4. What I think is utterly dishonest is to claim that you can scientifically demonstrate design and take no stand as to who the designer is

    That is how all design inferences go. First you determine intelligent design exists and then and only then can you try to figure pout who the designer was. We think it is an unwarranted leap to go straight to God or some other Supreme Designer. And if God, what/ which God? So it's complicated, Dave.

    And if dealing with proximate as opposed to ultimate causes that leap is even more unwarranted when considering life on Earth.

    1. Joe, If ID was an honest science I'd agree with you. But I firmly believe (and the evidence supports it) that there is no doubt who this designer would turn out to be. Of course I agree with the identity of the designer. What I despised was the insult to everyone's intelligence that ID was all about science and not about a form of theistic creationism. It was/is a crock in my opinion.

      That's why I always admired Hugh Ross regardless of whether I agreed with him. He was up front about the fact that the designer he had in mind was God. He's honest (and a better scientists that the marquee IDers of yesteryear.)

    2. Hi Dave- you can believe what you want I don't hold your belief. I sincerely hope that the Designer is not the God of the Bible or if it is that the God of the Bible has been seriously misrepresented in it.

      ID was around before Creation(ism) and it doesn't depend on the Bible. And it is totally possible that our existence is not due to God directly but it is due to some other Designer- think ETs.

      So just because ID says it is an unwarranted leap to go from "it is intelligently designed" to "God did it"- an honest approach, you think ID is being dishonest. I find that very strange and unsupportable.

  5. Evolution makes predictions and then does scientific experiments to confirm the predictions.

    What predictions are borne from evolution by means of blind and mindless processes (natural selection and drift)? What experiments demonstrate that those processes can produce multi-protein machinery or denovo genes?

  6. Mike Gene had an essay about Intelligent Design that opened with:

    "What is Intelligent Design? If you ask a critic, he will probably tell you that ID is a disguised version of Creationism and nothing more than a Trojan Horse to get God taught in the public schools. If you ask a typical proponent of ID, he will probably tell you that ID is the best explanation for various biotic phenomena.

    For me, ID begins exactly as William Dembski said it begins – with a question":

    Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause?

    "The first thing to note about the question is that you don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to ask it. You don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to consider it. In fact, you don’t even have to be a religious fundamentalist to answer it."

  7. The conclusion that something was designed can be made quite independently of knowledge of the designer. As a matter of procedure, the design must first be apprehended before there can be any further question about the designer. The inference to design can be held with all firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer.—Dr Behe

    And reality dictates that in the absence of direct observation or designer input, the only possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer and any process used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence. Archaeology shows us how difficult it is to pin down a specific designer and methods used. And they deal with things that are within our capabilities to reproduce.

    As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such.- Wm. Dembski page 33 of The Design Revolution

    The DESIGN is what we have to study. Again, archaeologists cannot study the alleged artisans of their artifacts.

    The National Academy of Sciences has objected that intelligent design is not falsifiable, and I think that’s just the opposite of the truth. Intelligent design is very open to falsification. I claim, for example, that the bacterial flagellum could not be produced by natural selection; it needed to be deliberately intelligently designed. Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s easily falsified by a series of such experiments.

    Now let’s turn that around and ask, How do we falsify the contention that natural selection produced the bacterial flagellum? If that same scientist went into the lab and knocked out the bacterial flagellum genes, grew the bacterium for a long time, and nothing much happened, well, he’d say maybe we didn’t start with the right bacterium, maybe we didn’t wait long enough, maybe we need a bigger population, and it would be very much more difficult to falsify the Darwinian hypothesis.

    I think the very opposite is true. I think intelligent design is easily testable, easily falsifiable, although it has not been falsified, and Darwinism is very resistant to being falsified. They can always claim something was not right.- Dr Behe

  8. The only way Intelligent Design could possibly die is if someone stepped up and demonstrated that materialistic processes were sufficient to explain what we observe. And that ain't happenin'...