Re: [asa] ID is scientifically vacuous

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Thu Jun 21 2007 - 19:23:35 EDT

The repetition of the description of ID as scientifically vacuous does
tend to degenerate into a derogatory label rather than useful
contribution, even if it is not meant as such. However, legitimate
arguments can be made suggesting that ID is lacking in scientific

Whether ID is scientifically vacuous depends both on the definitions
of ID and science. While exact definitions of science can be
problematic, I would suggest that within the context of the claim of
"scientifically vacuous", that the assertion is being made that ID
does not generate physically testable hypotheses. (Obviously, Pim
could confirm or deny this.) Thus, activities such as inspiring
investigation of science, misleading adherents into thinking they have
investigated science, or suggesting that science fails to provide an
explanation whereas divine guidance does provide one do not count
against the charge of scientific vacuousness. It should also be noted
that there are plenty of important things that are scientifically
vacuous, some more important than science; scientific vacuousness
should only be considered a problem in something that claims to be

The evasiveness of a consistent definition of ID from its advocates
makes it quite difficult to make any prediction based on ID generally.
 Also, it is impossible to look for evidence of design unless one
makes assumptions about what sorts of actions a designer is likely to
take, as well as about what the "non-designed" options are. An
unspecified designer of unknown capabilities might do anything, and
thus yields no useful predictions.

Of course, one could make a variety of reasonable (or unreasonable)
assumptions about what a designer or non-designer might do. Based on
such assumptions, it can be possible to make some scientific
predictions. Various ID advocates have made such predictions (often
formulated as claims to have established fact); most have fared poorly
under scientific testing. Such versions of ID are not scientifically
vacuous, but they tend towards the scientifically wrong.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Thu Jun 21 19:23:49 2007

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