Re: Vienna cardinal draws lines in Intelligent Design row

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Mon Nov 21 2005 - 13:44:04 EST

People asked me offlist why I believe ID is scientifically vacuous. Here
is my response and since it is of relevance to the list as well I have
posted the response directly to the list

Q: Why is ID vacuous?

I said scientifically vacuous. In simple terms: ID is based on our
ignorance to reach a conclusion which is nothing more than 'we don't
know' or 'the null hypothesis'.

R. Nichols wrote:* Proponents of Intelligent Design theory seek to
ground a scientific research program that appeals to teleology within
the context of biological explanation. As such, Intelligent Design
theory must contain principles to guide researchers. I argue for a
disjunction: either Dembski’s ID theory lacks content, or it succumbs to
the methodological problems associated with creation science-problems
that Dembski explicitly attempts to avoid. The only concept of a
designer permitted by Dembski’s Explanatory Filter is too weak to give
the sorts of xplanations which we are entitled to expect from those
sciences, such as archeology, that use effect-to-cause reasoning. The
new spin put upon ID theory-that it is best construed as a
‘metascientific hypothesis’-fails for roughly the same reason.*

R. Nichols, Scientific content, testability, and the vacuity of
Intelligent Design theory The American Catholic philosophical quarterly
, 2003 , vol. 77 , no 4 , pp. 591 - 611


* Ryan Nichols wrote:

In my argument against Intelligent Design Theory I will not contend that
it is not falsifiable or that it implies contradictions. I’ll argue that
Intelligent Design Theory doesn’t imply anything at all, i.e. it has no
content. By ‘content’ I refer to a body of determinate principles and
propositions entailed by those principles. By ‘principle’ I refer to a
proposition of central importance to the theory at issue. By
‘determinate principle’ I refer to a proposition of central importance
to the theory at issue in which the extensions of its terms are clearly
defined. I’ll evaluate the work of William Dembski because he specifies
his methodology in detail, thinks Intelligent Design Theory is
contentful and thinks Intelligent Design Theory (hereafter ‘IDT’)
grounds an empirical research program. Later in the paper I assess a
recent trend in which IDT is allegedly found a better home as a
metascientific hypothesis, which serves as a paradigm that catalyzes
research. I’ll conclude that, whether IDT is construed as a scientific
or metascientific hypothesis, IDT lacks content.*

An excellent paper which expresses that which many scientists and
religious people alike have come to realize, Intelligent Design is
scientifically vacuous.

Hope this helps.
Received on Mon Nov 21 13:44:59 2005

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