Craig Rusbult (
Sat, 27 Sep 1997 19:16:11 -0400 (EDT)

In the first reply to my "ID and Utility" post, George Murphy says,
> "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 is a good summary of the standard arguments against ID-as-science,
if scientific utility is based *only* on ability to MAKE PREDICTIONS (or
non-adhoc retroductions). In my post I stated that I agree with these
arguments (although I still want to think about the arguments of Meyer,...
more carefully, and I reserve the right to be eventually persuaded) that ID
is typically not strong at making specific predictions. { Plantinga, in
PSCF Sep-97, accurately refers to claims that "God did it" as "science
stoppers" }
Therefore, in the hope of making a defensible case for "the utility of
ID in science" I suggested that ID can be most scientifically useful by
providing a basis for good CRITICAL THINKING during evaluation. So far
there has been only one direct comment (by Don Page) about this.
Is this because everyone *wants* ID to fail, so that MN will be the
dominant viewpoint of scientists who are theists? And if so, is this due
to thinking that God is never active (except for "sustaining") in nature?
Or because you think that a better way to argue for theistic action is to
emphasize the distinction between methodological naturalism and
philosophical naturalism?
Or is it because you think that ID contributes nothing to critical
thinking during evaluation? (see the AREA-SEPARATIONS post)


In a comment about "ID and utility" Don Page says,
>I agree with the point of Craig Rusbult that (as I interpret it)
>Intelligent Design (ID) and Methodological Naturalism (MN) (at least as both
>are interpreted today) might well lead to different scientific hypotheses (or
>at least different weightings for the plausibility of different scientific

Yes, but I would emphasize the "different weightings" aspect because IF
in a certain area of nature it is true that "God did it", AND IF this true
theory is not considered to be scientific, THEN in this area *a scientific
theory cannot be true*, and the only useful contribution of ID is to lower
the INTRINSIC STATUS (although not necessarily the RELATIVE STATUS) of
false scientific theories.

And Don agrees with George (and myself, at least for now) in saying that
>to make their [ID] viewpoint
>scientific it seems to me that they should come up with some criteria of
>simplicity of how they they would expect that God most plausibly acts (or
>acted) in creating and sustaining a universe consistent with our
>For example, if God "intervenes" in the natural law processes of evolution
>(which processes MN theists would regard as also God's activity), under what
>circumstances and in what way might He be expected to intervene? Can we
>duplicate these circumstances today and see whether He does indeed
>intervene in
>the way hypothesized?

Yes, this would be needed for using ID to make specific predictions, but
not for contributing to critical thinking during evaluation.

Craig R