Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design, Restated

The central tenet of Intelligent Design is usually stated as “certain features of living organisms are too complex to be the result of natural processes, therefore they were designed.”

But as Michael Behe explained at length on the stand in the Dover Panda Trial, what he objects to (at least, when he’s on the stand) is the notion that these features could have been formed by natural selection. He also made it clear that as far as he’s concerned, the designer is God.

So really, the central tenet of ID should be restated as, “certain features of living organisms are too complex to be the result of natural selection, therefore they are the result of a powerful, intelligent, probably supernatural, entity.”

The structure of this argument is exactly the same as, “the Egyptian pyramids could not have been formed by erosion, therefore they were built by space aliens” or “my shirt is not white, therefore it is red.”

Note the change from “natural processes” to “selection”. What ID creationists really want is an argument that proves God. But there’s no evidence for any gods, so they need to use “X cannot be explained by natural means, therefore it involves a supernatural agent.” But you can’t prove a negative. Even a statement like “a perpetual-motion machine is impossible” is really an abbreviation of “if a perpetual-motion machine is possible, then just about everything we know about physics is wrong.”

So they fudge a bit, and extrapolate from “X cannot be explained by natural selection” to “X cannot be explained by natural causes.” But when you restate it that way, it becomes much clearer that “it’s not natural selection, therefore it’s a powerful intelligent being” is a non sequitur.

One thought on “Intelligent Design, Restated

  1. Proposed name change:
    Intelligent design (ID) becomes Miraculous Intervention(MI) – thats what that Behe & crew are proposing. Its still “God of the Gaps” but by now the gaps are very small. a few nanos wide.
    If the ‘design’ is implicit in the structure of the natural world, then we have Natural Science.
    If the ‘design’ is only at a few difficult points (Centrioles?) then we have “Miraculous Intervention”
    The thing about miracles is, they spoil Natural Science, because anywhere,anytime, big Nobodaddy might flip in a miracle, so research becomes impossible.

    Behe does seem to be saying that the IrredComplex points are few, so I assume he accepts, or pretends to accept, that natural selection copes with 99% of what we see, and Nobodaddy handles the other 1%, from time to time, ‘leaning in’ and Miraculously ‘appearing’ a new string of DNA in some organism, which then happens to code for a bunch of proteins all at once. Can someone tell me if this is actually the ID/MI position? Or do they want the other 99% later so that *every* mutation is the work of Nobodaddy/FlyingSpaghettiMonster? Or just the beneficial mutations? But Behe isnt just going for the mutations, that would be merely simply feel-good SituationalistHumanism. He is stating that some sets of proteins (Complement?) *must* appear simultaneously, so if one had a microscope focused at that time, ione would see a largish chunk of DNA instantaneously appear and insert itself in the genome. Reminds me a bit of Hoyles continuous creation, except that Nobodaddy is Intelligent. At least smart enough to get mentioned in Kansas.
    Personally I dont care if no biology is taught to high school students , they can pick it up later.

Comments are closed.