Aug 8, 2013

Intelligent Design Opponents

Neo-Darwinism is not unassailable. Here is a paragraph I just read from Dembski's book on ID that you may find helpful as it expresses my viewpoint for the most part:
"Indeed the following problems have proven utterly intractable not only for the mutation-selection mechanism but also for any other undirected natural process propose to date: the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, the origin of multicellular life, the origin of sexuality, the scarcity of transitional forms in the fossil record, the biological Big Bang that occurred the Cambrian era, the development of complex organ systems and the development of irreducibly complex molecular machines." (page 105).
 As a scientific theory, evolution should be falsifiable (it is, its evangelists just deny this fact). This means criticisms of the model should be allowed to air, even if no one is teaching ID along side of it. The model is not without its weaknesses, to say the least. It does not have all the explanatory power it needs. Further, many contend that it has *not* made its case. Point in case: Stephen Meyer cites several books and articles from scholars in relevant scientific fields which "express[...] doubt about various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory, and especially about its central tenet, namely, the alleged creative power of the natural selection and mutation mechanism." Patrick Chan has made a list of these books and articles. Either way, Neo-Darwinism does not deserve a protected and untouchable place in science as we seek to do forensics. I hope the establishment does not equate disagreeing with the standard evolutionary story in any way as by default 'pushing religion' ... but , alas ...

It is disappointing, though, to hear evolutionists who desire to offer incisive critiques of Intelligent Design and yet have failed to grasp its basic first principles. ID has an epistemology when its proponents delve into the discussions about information, for example. But confused critics have said to me that "The reason why intelligent design, or creationism, is not scientific is because it lacks an epistemology"! This is 100% false; ID advocates are ultra-explicit in how they go about deriving conclusions and their epistemology. I do not believe anyone familiar with even an introductory level of the literature could miss this fact. A cursory reading of a book by William Dembski would do these folks a great service. Here is a snippet from ID, page 127:

“There does in fact exist a rigorous criterion for distinguishing intelligently caused objects from unintelligently caused ones. Many special sciences already use this criterion, though in a pre-theoretic form (e.g., forensic science, artificial intelligence, cryptography, archaeology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence [SETI]). The great breakthrough of the intelligent design movement has been to isolate and make precise this criterion.”
Stephen Meyer, who does hold a PhD in philosophy of science from Cambridge, often refers to abduction or  Inference to the Best Explanation in his talks. This is foundational in ID studies. Further, what we are looking at with origin models is forensic science; so how do we do this? To quote Meyer, he says he "began to study the scientists who had developed a scientific method for studying biological origins. That led me, obviously, to Darwin, and from Darwin to his mentor, the famous 19th-century geologist Charles Lyell, who had pioneered the method of studying events and causes in the remote past. . . . Lyell had a way of distilling this principle of reasoning: He said we should be looking for presently acting causes, or as he put it, 'causes now in operation.'"

But what about falsifiability (not epistemology), which is "a reliable procedure which can either confirm or disconfirm its hypothesis of a supernatural cause"? Well, if evolutionists (who adhere to a model which truly does lack genuine falsifiability), could demonstrate the wastefulness or accidents of evolution, then they would begin to tear down the ID hypothesis. This is why they worked so hard to prove that junk DNA was really junk. But a good model must have predictive power and the ID guys said, no it will have a purpose, it will not turn out to be pure junk - guess who was right? ID has been vindicated. But we know they will try again because no amount of evidence could overturn the evolutionary model in many people's minds - their world view is too wed to it. Question: If it's considered 'religious' to claim that science points us towards design, then is it also 'religious' to claim that science points us away from design?

But I often get the feeling my evolutionist friends are not really hearing what I am saying  - they may not be too interested in actually listening. Too many atheists seem to be on auto-pilot, not really paying attention to detail. In their attempt to just steam roll anything their dialogue partner has to say, they may be missing a chance to grow a bit (as we all should hope to do from these discussions).

I enjoy debate but I'm not too fond of trying to do it to merely to gain points as if this were a competition. It's not, these issues are real and serious and important and affect us all! I worry that sometimes they can get trivialized as we type away staring at our opponent's avatar instead of realizing these conversations have to do with ultimate questions, not games.

I hope you can hear where I am coming from on this.


1 comment:

  1. Hey Vocab. How's it going?

    I've never blogged much about evolution and ID, but I have a few thoughts.

    Don't you believe that everything in the universe was designed by God? If so, how could there possibly be any criteria that could distinguish between an undesigned thing and a designed thing?


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