Re: The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Sat Nov 26 2005 - 21:19:36 EST

Peter Cook wrote:

>I would be interested in more details behind your statement that detection
>of design can indeed be 'scientific'.
I am referring to the often quoted examples by ID such as criminology,
archaeology, cryptography and even SETI.

All instances however do not use an eliminative design inference
approach but look at issues such as:

Means, motives, opportunities, alibis, eye-witness, etc

Detecting a designer, without knowing anything about the probabilities
involved, which is what ID is all about when it tries to detect a
supernatural designer, makes the ID approach highly problematic.

The paper

The application-conditions for design inferences: Why the design
arguments need the help of other arguments for God's existence by
KENNETH EINAR HIMMA, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion
(2005) 57: 1b33 B) Springer 2005

addresses the complications. Shallit and Elsberry similarly have looked
at this issue in

The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from
John S. Wilkins, Wesley R. Elsberry Unedited version. Published as:
Wilkins, John S, and Wesley R Elsberry. 2001. The advantages of theft
over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance. Biology and
Philosophy 16 (November):711-724.


Intelligent design theorist William Dembski has proposed an "explanatory
filter" for distinguishing between events due to chance, lawful
regularity or design. We show that if Dembski's filter were adopted as a
scientific heuristic, some classical developments in science would not
be rational, and that Dembski's assertion that the filter reliably
identifies rarefied design requires ignoring the state of background
knowledge. If background information changes even slightly, the filter's
conclusion will vary wildly. Dembski fails to overcome Hume's objections
to arguments from design.

Sober and various others have approached this issue from various other
perspectives. In the end, the conclusion is that the Design Inference
ala Dembski/Behe is unreliable and in many cases useless.
Note that the DI has yet to be applied to any non-trivial cases.
Received on Sat Nov 26 21:20:44 2005

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