Re: ID and Scientific Utility

Murphy (
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 07:55:53 -0400

(Craig Rusbult) wrote:

> Should Intelligent Design be considered a legitimate type of scientific
> theory? If so, then according to commonly accepted criteria, ID (if it is
> to be scientifically useful) should be able to serve as a basis for making
> predictions (or retroductions that aren't ad hoc) about observable
> phenomena; these predictions make an ID-theory empirically testable.

<huge snip>

"Intelligent design" is a part of science in a limited sense:
If a paleontologist finds a piece of bone abraded in a certain way,
he/she may hypothesize that it was a product of such design, & then try
to predict things about the designer & test those predictions.
BUT - ID in the sense in which it is now being used, _theistic_
ID (whether the theistic element is explicitly admitted or not) is not
"scientific" in that sense, for a simple reason. God "can do anything".
Thus if unrestrained divine action is allowed as an explanatory
element, literally "anything goes". The theory can thus explain
anything. You found something your naturalistic theory can't explain?
Mine can - God (or The Intelligent Designer) did it.
This does not imply any incoherence between scientific
explanation & belief in divine action - IF God voluntarily limits his
action to that describable in terms of natural processes obeying
rational laws. But ID proponents will not allow God this type of
Qualifications: The idea that "God can do anything" is not
identical with the classical doctrine of omnipotence, which is that God
_does_ do everything. & divine omnipotence does not extend to
self-contradiction. I don't think these points affect the above
argument in any significant way.

George L. Murphy