Re: The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Sat Nov 26 2005 - 14:33:06 EST

Cornelius Hunter wrote:

> Pim and George:
>> 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.
> This history of science helps here because these attacks on ID are
> similar to the rationalist's attacks on the 17th century moderate
> empiricists.

Aha, so it was not really meant to argue against what I said as much as
to help understand a largely unrelated topic namely the BB.

> The BB doesn't tell us why this event occurred. It doesn't have a
> mechanism for the cause.

It has some ideas but the problem is that such a 'cause' would be
invisible to science due to the Planck time limit. In other words, we
can look back quite far in time but never all the way to the BB, let
alone, to before the BB

> This is what you complained ID lacked.

Nope. Lacking a mechanism is but one of the many potential failings of
ID. My complaint is that ID lacks most of anything, hence the term
scientifically vacuous.

> Regarding testability, the BB is testable in the same sense that
> design theories are testable. Nor are design theories based on
> negative evidence (John Ray did not study botany using negative
> evidence). Here we are with the evidence screaming "design" and we're
> told this must not be science.

Your continued creation of strawmen is worrisome Cornelius. We are
discussing Intelligent Design which is based on the set theoretic
complement of chance and regularity. Design theories are not testable
because they explain nothing. Detection of design can indeed be
'scientific' but the route chosen by ID has rendered itself fully
vacuous. So let's not confuse these simple observations.
Perhaps Cornelius can explain to us how ID 'theories' are testable?
Especially when such a 'theory' is, not surprisingly, lacking?

>> I criticize ID for providing no answers at all. ID is rekected
>> because it adds no scientifically relevant explanations to our
>> knowledge. I am not even asking for 'ultimate answers', I am asking
>> for any scientifically relevant answers.
> Of course it does. It allows us to follow the data instead of
> *requiring* purely naturalistic theories of origin (evolution). We do
> not have to force fit the data into an unproven theory of origin which
> restricts our scientific approach.

You seem to believe that including the supernatural somehow enhances
scientific understanding? Since science can never prove nor disprove the
supernatural, how can it be a scientific theory? Science 'requires' a
natural (not necessarily naturalistic) explanation of the data. It may
fail and all it can conclude is 'we don't know'.

>> Again, this is the claim of ID but it fails on the simple observation
>> that it adds nothing to scientific knowledge. If 'a different way of
>> doing science' means that rather than call our ignorance for what it
>> is, and call it 'design' then ID is simply vacuoeeus. It does not
>> even allow a competition with the 'we don't know' position.
> This is a mischaracterization for reasons stated above.

No reasons were given that I see as relevant. Could you please elaborate
because merely stating it does not mean much. Explain how ID is
scientifically meaningful?

>> ID may not want to constrain itself to naturalistic descriptions of
>> origins but it is exactly this which makes it scientifically vacuous.
> Again, this ignores the vast body of scientific work done outside of
> naturalism.

Such as? Come on Cornelius... Show us the examples of how ID is
scientifically relevant....

>> Poof is just not a very competing explanation to explain that which
>> we do not yet understand.
> This is a strawman. ID doesn't make this claim. In fact it allows for
> evolutionary processes. It just doesn't require naturalistic origin.

This is too funny for words. Of course it should be a given that
whatever part of ID includes evolutionary processes is not part of my
criticisms but the inclusion of such processes is not because of
anything ID has contributed. It merely has to accept that evolutionary
theory is quite succesful. So how does ID explain the flagellum? It does
not, it merely states that the designer must have wanted to design it
and had the ability to design it.


>> Gap arguments never have been very scientific and more than once gaps
>> in our knowledge have been filled later,.
> You are requiring ID to be a historical science, even though IDs have
> repeatedly explained this is not what ID is about.

Indeed, which is why it is so vacuous scientifically. ID gives us
nothing that helps further our scientific knowledge. Note that science
does not reject an intelligent designer a priori, even ID proponents
accept this. What science does reject is being able to detect or reject
the supernatural. ID claims that it can do better here but so far beyond
its claims, it remains extremely vacuous in this area.

> even
>> though deities were more than once invoked to explain natural
>> occurrences: Examples are countless and include natural disasters
>> (earthquakes, volcanoes), natural phenomenon (thunder/lightning,
>> comets, eclipses), illnesses and even local floods.
> This is irrelevant. No serious modern scientist has made this kind of
> gap theory. I'll let you have the last word (unless you have something
> new to say).

So now ID is suddenly limited to 'modern scientists'? Is history somehow
now less relevant because it undermines your position? Come on
Cornelius, even today gap theories exist. Look at the flagellum or the
Cambrian explosion both of which become less relevant to ID every time
new knowledge and data are added. Today's gap arguments by ID are not
much different from the gap arguments made in the past.

All because ID confuses the concept of naturalism and methodological

But still no evidence that my claim that ID is scientifically vacuous is
What knowledge has ID added that we did not have before? That the
supernatural remains a possibility? That was never an issue
scientifically... So what does ID really have to offer scientifically?
So far the evidence clearly suggests that it is nothing
Received on Sat Nov 26 14:34:12 2005

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