Re: The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

From: Todd Pedlar <>
Date: Sat Nov 26 2005 - 10:47:01 EST

Pim van Meurs wrote:

> Cornelius Hunter wrote:
>> Fortunately people like Isaac Newton and John Ray didn't agree with
>> you. Rationalism failed in theology and in teh experimental sciences,
>> but it has continued in the historical sciences. Behe injected the
>> Big Bang into the testimony for good reason. The lawyer didn't get it
>> (or didn't want to get it), but the BB is an example where empiricism
>> has broken through in the historical sciences, despite stiff
>> resistance. It violated the axioms held by many cosmologists, but the
>> evidence was too strong. I guess the lawyer should have just said it
>> is vacuous.
> Again you are conflating various arguments. BB succeeded because it
> presented another testable, positive explanation of the data. ID does
> nothing of the kind, it merely relies on negative evidence to
> conclcude that our ignorance is evidence of something called 'design'.
> It was exactly the empirical evidence which led the BB to become an
> accepted theory.
> So again, BB was not scientifically vacuous as it was a real
> hypothesis, not the null hypothesis.

Not sure that I want to get into this at this point, but here goes. I'm not a proponent of intelligent design, nor an opponent, although I am
sympathetic to the perspective those in the ID camp have on the viability of the science done. As has been noted, the difference lies not so much in what ID will do (ID folks are found among geneticists,
physicists and organic & biochemists), as in what ultimately grounds them with respect to what science can claim. What I do want to see is fair treatment of those who are in the ID camp, which I'm not sure always happens.

A question here to start, Pim.

In what sense is the BB testable? I assume what you mean is that BB puts forth a picture that should give rise to certain effects - and that those are testable in that those effects can be searched for in the data. It's hard to go beyond this, however, and say that BB is 'proven' - only that it is the most consistent theory that explains the data we
see today, and should win the day in any discussion about cosmology because of that empirical strength.

As for ID and the claims that all it is is the "null hypothesis". It's not as though science has never done what ID does before - that is, taken a look at the prevailing theory that attempts to explain the data observed, and claim that the theory fails on that count. Isn't it fairer to claim that ID is simply saying to macroevolutionists
that the evidence is lacking for the claims made about origins? Isn't that the crux of the matter? ID folks generally seem to me to be happy to accept adaptation/microevolution and the claims made and applications of genetics and biochemistry. What is rejected is the tying together of
evolutionary pathways back to the dawn of time. Perhaps in part what they see is a lack of predictive power for THAT part of biological theory - a perspective with which I am thoroughly sympathetic. What
predictions (testable or otherwise) are made based on the theories of macroevolutionary development?


Todd K. Pedlar
Assistant Professor of Physics
Luther College
Received on Sat Nov 26 10:51:49 2005

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