Intelligent Design

Stop Presses! ID Actually Explains Something!

In Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski criticizes Steven Pinker’s evolutionary explanation of goosebumps as “fluffing up long-gone fur”, then attempts to give an ID explanation:

What about the intelligent design of goose bumps? I’m perfectly happy to consider them a quirk that results from evolution working in tandem with design. But let’s say we had to come up with a design explanation of them. Here goes: goose bumps kick in when we’re frightened or cold or otherwise experience strong emotions. But is it that we are consciously having such experiences or is it the goose bumps that assist in bringing to consciousness such experiences. Goose bumps are, after all, not under conscious control — they are governed by the sympathetic nervous system. Perhaps goose bumps are designed as a way of bringing to consciousness various stresses that need attention.

Thank the Intelligent Designer for goosebumps, then! Without them, we’d never know that we were cold or frightened. I suppose stomach growlings are also intelligently designed, because otherwise, how would we know that we’re hungry?

But seriously, Bill: if you’re going to pretend that ID is scientific, then tell us how this just-so story of yours can be tested. What experiment would you perform, what data would you collect, to see whether it’s true? Just as importantly, what results would (potentially) convince you that this explanation is wrong?

4 thoughts on “Stop Presses! ID Actually Explains Something!

  1. Dembski is here reviving an old debate in psychology: does the perception of an emotion cause the physiological responses associated with that emotion, or do the physiological responses trigger the perception of an emotion? In other words, which is prior, the physiological event or awareness of the stimulus? An overview: Dembski is coming down on the side of the James-Lange interpretation.

  2. With regards to suboptimal design, I suppose he’d counter with the old chestnut “but God moves in mysterious ways.”

  3. Then he’d have to admit that the Designer is God, which he can’t do if he wants ID taught in public schools.

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