Thursday, August 18, 2005

Unscientific Design

The Intelligent Design movement is not just an effort that raises issues about the theory of evolution. Anyone can do that. The staunchest evolutionists do it and so do the only intellectually interested.

ID pretends to be a scientific theory through selective critiques of professional scientific papers. Raising questions is good, evolution is no sacred cow, but then they jump ahead of the gun and call evolution's weaknesses their strengths. Whatever evolution cannot answer, they can.

That's convincing for those unfamiliar with science, but ID has no positive evidence of its own. It depends on our ignorance of the minutiae of evolution to bolster its claims. But even if the theory of evolution fell tomorrow, that still would not mean that ID was right or supported by the evidence.

ID is literally a deus ex machina explanation.

It is wrong to take any scientific theory as dogma. All theories are always only as far as we know and as far as the evidence supports it. Skepticism (right on MN) is built in.

Suppose that there were real merits behind the Dembski-style questions of probability (under the current understanding there isn't, but for the sake of argument...) then that would mean there is something about the theory that we haven't got right.

Most of the theory is correct through other evidence, but it would seem that for the theorized mechanism we're missing some information.

So, an intelligence coming in at choice moments to start up evolution is _one_ answer, but there could be any number of others. A lack of explanation for something in evolution does not mean it is evidence for Intelligent Design.

All it means is that we have an unanswered question for the current theory.

The current reigning cosmological theory, the Big Bang, has a number of unanswered questions: where is the missing mass? Why was the universe bumpy? Why was there more matter than antimatter? And so on.

But all these questions are evidence for is that they are questions for the theory. They don't imply any other theory in themselves. Now, you could also answer with a Godidit for those questions, but that's not science.

See Richard Dawkins say it in his own words. Hat tip Jewish Atheist.


Anonymous said...

Dawkins, in his own words, is NOT a scientist but a philosopher. He's not interested in scientific methodology at all.

(Source -- New Scientist interview about 10 years ago)

Orthoprax said...


Your two sentences do not follow, even if true. One doesn't have to be a professional scientist to be interested in scientific methodology. And Dawkins certainly does have the scientific background to understand how science works.

And besides, I wrote my post before I even knew Dawkins wrote specifically on this topic in this way and its correctness does not depend on his reputation.