The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Thu Nov 24 2005 - 13:22:43 EST

I am working on a larger posting addressing this excellent paper but let
me point out that Intelligent Design is nothing more than the "null
hypothesis" and can thus not even compete with 'we don't know'. In fact,
we have seen in the past how a 'we don't know' position were used to
propose evidence of a deity, only to be replaced later when our
ignorance decreased.

Or as Nichols states it "? In essence, I’ll argue that either IDT/CP
(Core Principle) is vacuous because it has no content, or it has content
given it by truths from revealed religion. "

Nichols also points out an often overlooked concession by Dembski namely
that design does not require necessarily an agent


"Before I proceed, however, I note that Dembski makes an important
concession to his critics. He refuses to make the second assumption
noted above. When the EF implies that certain systems are intelligently
designed, Dembski does not think it follows that there is some
intelligent designer or other. He says that, “even though in practice
inferring design is the first step in identifying an intelligent agent,
taken by itself _design does not require that such an agent be posited.
The notion of design that emerges from the design inference must not be
confused with intelligent agency_” (TDI, 227, my emphasis). (We’ll
revisit this concession below.) "

There is no way to compare the ID hypothesis with other hypotheses since
ID does not present any independent hypothesis other than the failure of
other hypotheses.

Secondly, since ID does not address the notion of the designer, there is
nothing that limits the designer and thus anything can be designed. In
other words, its unlimited explanatory powers make ID to be
scientifically meaningless.

Let's for instance look at the Cambrian 'explosion'. How does ID explain
the Cambrian explosion? No scientific explanations are provided and in
fact Dembski is clear that such explanations will not be forthcoming. ID
descriptions of the Cambrian explosion invariably tend to downplay or
ignore scientific findings and look for gaps in our understanding to
make its claims. Dembski when asked for the scientific details, was
clear in his answer:

"As for your example, I'm not going to take the bait. You're asking me
to play a game: "Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal
mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position." ID
is not a mechanistic theory, and it's not ID's task to match your
pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is
correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain
structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of
connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there
may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is
what ID is discovering."

Nichols does a very thorough job at addressing various objections to his
claims and provides a very compelling overview of the vacuity of ID.
Received on Thu Nov 24 13:25:06 2005

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