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Critique of “Science and Design”

September 16, 2013

I was in a civil debate with a friend, and he wanted me to take a look at the article Science and Design, written by William A. Dembski of the Discovery Institute.  Rather than do a quick review with him, I decided to do a better critique here on my blog.

Understand that I am going to especially focus on scientific accuracy.  That’s my “thing”.  It is a pet peeve of mine when religious people (of any faith) make scientific claims that are not supported by the evidence.   With regard to scientific stuff, I will hold no punches.  Deal with it.

When the quantum physics of Bohr and Heisenberg in turn displaced the physics of Galileo and Newton, scientists realized they needed to supplement their deterministic natural laws by taking into account chance processes in their explanations of our universe.

Right out of the gate, Dembski makes a fundamental error in his understanding of science.  Newtonian physics (and Galileo too) was not “displaced”.  As with most scientific theories, the theories were expanded upon or improved on.  We still teach Newtonian Physics in school because it is useful.   This is a minor point, and I am being a bit pedantic in pointing it out, but his misunderstanding about science is common and needs to be mentioned.

Today, however, chance and necessity have proven insufficient to account for all scientific phenomena. Without invoking the rightly discarded teleologies, entelechies, and vitalisms of the past, one can still see that a third mode of explanation is required, namely, intelligent design. Chance, necessity, and design—these three modes of explanation—are needed to explain the full range of scientific phenomena.

Dembski puts forth a claim, disguised as a statement of fact.  His claim is that Intelligent Design (ID) is required to fill in the gaps in scientific understanding.  This is called the God Of The Gaps logical fallacy, essentially claiming that God is behind all that we do not understand.

He does not admit that there is another possible reason that we cannot account for all scientific phenomena:  Human Ignorance.  Perhaps the most powerful words that anyone can utter is, “I don’t know”.  It also takes courage to say that.  Proper scientists say it all the time, because it is an important aspect of the scientific method.

For a long time, we did not know what caused the Aurora Borialis.   Many cultures and religions placed spiritual significance on that effect.  But we now know that there is a perfectly sane scientific explanation for it.  Years ago, those who claimed it was proof of God made the same God of the Gaps error.  Currently we do not know what Dark Energy is, but it would be foolish for us to claim that it is proof of Intelligent Design instead of just saying “we don’t know”.

The biological community thinks it has accounted for the apparent design in nature through the Darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection. The point to appreciate, however, is that in accounting for the apparent design in nature, biologists regard themselves as having made a successful scientific argument against actual design. This is important, because for a claim to be scientifically falsifiable, it must have the possibility of being true. Scientific refutation is a double-edged sword. Claims that are refuted scientifically may be wrong, but they are not necessarily wrong—they cannot simply be dismissed out of hand.

I have no doubt that there are biologists out there that are like that, but they are in the minority.  Some of them will actually believe that.  But most will likely have said something misleading or taken out of context.  It is like someone saying, “Oh, I want to kill that guy”.   We’ve all said it, but we don’t mean it literally.  When talking casually, most scientists and Atheists will say that God doesn’t exist.  But when talking formally, or when questioned, will say the more correct statement:  “there is no scientific proof for or against the existence of a god/creator/designer”.

Since Dembski doesn’t site sources, we cannot verify this claim.  I assert that his claim is a Straw Man logical fallacy.  I can certainly say that all of the biologists that I know are not like that.  Granted, my sample size is about 6, but I think that the burden of proof is on Dembski.

So even those who do not believe in it tacitly admit that design always remains a live option in biology. A priori prohibitions against design are philosophically unsophisticated and easily countered. Nonetheless, once we admit that design cannot be excluded from science without argument, a weightier question remains: Why should we want to admit design into science?

The problem with his argument here is that it degenerates into a playground level argument:  Why is the sky blue?  Because god made it that way.  Why are there dino bones in the ground?  Because god made it that way.  The answer, “because god made it that way” is a cop-out answer that can be applied to anything.  So long as god is not subjected to the same laws of nature as everything else, then it is impossible to show that god does or does not exist– and arguing for ID in this context amounts to mental masturbation and nothing more.

God is a supernatural being (if she exists at all).  Supernatural.  SUPER-natural.  Meaning that god is above nature.  Outside the scope of nature.  How can the study of nature ever have anything to say about something that is not nature?  It can’t.  And scientists understand that.  The people that don’t understand that are the religious that keep insisting that there is scientific proof for god.

To put it a different way:  It is equally valid to say that our world, and us, were created and governed by our Reptilian overlords.  Yet nobody is seriously claiming that we must consider that they be included in scientific research.  Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Or one of the many Hindu gods.  Etc.

So to directly address Dembski’s question of “Why should we want to admit design into science?”  While the option for ID is always open, given the current lack of evidence for a supernatural creator it is not productive to give it serious consideration in a scientific setting.   We would have to spend an inordinate amount of time following all the supernatural red herrings instead of doing more productive work.  Things would be different if there were scientific proof of a god.  But there isn’t, and there have been scientific studies.

What’s wrong with explaining something as designed by an intelligent agent?

More correctly, his question should be, “What’s wrong with explaining something as designed by an intelligent agent that we cannot show to exist?”

The answer is simple:  because we want to actually learn something.  “Why is the grass green?  Because god made it that way.”  Done.  Boring.  Also, we have not learned anything that might help us.  But we could dig deeper and discover that plants use photosynthesis to convert sunlight, CO2, and other stuff into energy, etc.  Useful stuff!  Did we say that god did not create the chlorophyll?  Absolutely not!  Maybe he did, or maybe he didn’t.  But it really doesn’t matter if he did or not.   Saying that it was intelligently designed does not help us understand our universe in a pragmatic way.

So long as the hand of god is not visible in how the universe operates, considering ID as an influence is not productive.  We might as well believe in fairies or dragons.  But if such a time as the hand of god has been shown to actually play a role then the whole game changes.  That is how science works.

At this point, Dembski goes on and on about why ID is important.  Quite frankly, his analogies are tenuous at best, and most are completely wrong.  He says this gem [emphasis mine]:

If [human] design is so readily detectable outside science, and if its detectability is one of the key factors keeping scientists honest, why should [intelligent] design be barred from the content of science?

The answer is obvious:  Human design is readily detectable, but supernatural design is not.  We have zero scientific proof of intelligent design.

I should also point out that at no time was intelligent design barred from science.  It was a theory put forth by some people, and the theory was rejected by rational scientists (a.k.a. scientists) because it didn’t hold up.  Should something new come along, like proof of a supernatural creator, then it is welcome to be presented to the scientific community again.   But it has not forever been banished.

Biologists worry about attributing something to design (here identified with creation) only to have it overturned later; this widespread and legitimate concern has prevented them from using intelligent design as a valid scientific explanation.

More Straw Man fallacy.  Scientists worry about making claims that cannot be backed up with evidence.  ID has no supporting evidence.  Ergo, scientists won’t attribute something to ID.  Dembski says it like it’s a bad thing, but I think it’s a positive thing.   It’s how science works.

There now exists a rigorous criterion—complexity-specification—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, archeology [sic], and the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). The great breakthrough in philosophy of science and probability theory of recent years has been to isolate and make precise this criterion

This is stretching the truth quite a bit.  It would take too long to go into each of these so I’ll just quickly cover cryptography.  Much of cryptography centers around randomness.  Generating true random numbers is critical for making a secure method of communication.  Detecting the quality of the randomness is critical for determining the quality of the encryption.  The assumption is that the more random something is, the less intelligence there is behind it– but that is false.  Pulsars emit a pulse of radio waves that is more regular and accurate than an atomic clock, and is the opposite of random.  But a well encrypted communication link looks like perfectly random noise.  The opposite is equally true, where radioactive decay is perfectly random but reruns of I Love Lucy are not random at all.   So cryptography is not at all suitable for “distinguishing intelligently caused objects from unintelligently caused ones”.  This is similarly true of forensic science, AI, archaeology, and SETI.

At this point, Dembski starts doing what most people in his shoes do (i.e., people who try to prove something god related with science):  he starts off on a rant with lots of scientific sounding words that in the end does not mean anything.  In this case, it is about pattern matching, and how we might decide that something is of intelligent origin.   While I do not claim to be an expert in pattern matching, I know a lot more than the lay person.  I also am able to easily follow his text.  And I can safely say that the text on pattern matching has zero relevance to his argument– it doesn’t help or hurt his main point that ID is a valid “science”.

Then things go (more) downhill…  For the rest of the article Dembski shows he’s more of a philosopher than a scientist, and I don’t mean that in a good way.  I’ll be honest and say that I don’t like philosophers.  Every modern philosopher that I’ve encountered was all show and no substance, and Dembski certainly fits that.   Sure, he uses all of the 20-dollar words.  I’d call it, “Baffling with bullshit”.  But he makes the same old and tired claims that other ID proponents have made.  I could go over them all, but it is easier to just give you the Wikipedia link to Intelligent Design.    (To be fair, when he made those claims in 1998 they might not have been “old and tired” claims.)

At best, Dembski only provides circumstantial evidence for Intelligent Design being a real factor in the natural world.   At worst, he uses most of the known logical fallacies to promote something that in the end is “just faith”.  I could summarize his entire article into 5 words–  Intelligent Design is just faith– and I would have been a whole lot more accurate too.

I have written before that a pet peeve of mine is when Christians try to justify their faith with “science”.  It never ends well.  Not only is their “science” bad, but it is completely unnecessary (Hebrews 11:1 and John 20:29) and only makes Christians in general look bad.  Plus, I abhor bad science.

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12 comments

  1. Hi David, I asked you to read William Dembski’s article for its explanation of the concept of specified complexity. It is unclear from what you’ve written if you took the time to truly understand and ponder the concept and see how it relates to the question of origins. For instance, to use your examples, using Dembski’s definition of specified complexity, one would distinguish a regular pulsar signal as non-complex information but would determine that a long encrypted message that seems like noise is actually complex specified information. This would lead one to believe the encrypted message had an intelligent source while the pulsar signal may have been naturally produced. William Dembski, I think, for the most part knows what he is talking about and it is worth while to take the time to understand him, if you have an interest in the topic. Blessings, – Travis


    • I read the article, several times– a fate I would not wish on my worst enemy! Let me be frank, that article is badly written in that nothing it says is entirely clear. The article does not specifically mention the concept of “specified complexity”, and so neither did I. Indeed, the term “specified complexity” doesn’t even appear in the article.

      The term that does appear is “complexity-specification”, which is a measure of something and does not directly refer to any sort of concept. To make it worse, the article does not even define to any useful degree what complexity-specification actually is.

      At any rate, Dembski does talk about how (hypothetically) we can measure how much something might have been created by an intelligent non-human being. As I understand it, this is what you are referring to as “specified complexity”. I did cover this in my review and basically, it is crap, IMHO. Let me more directly address why it’s wrong:

      1. Dembski asserts without evidence or specifics that it is possible to measure the intelligence of a designer/source. 2. He assumes that it can be used to detect the hand of God. 3. None of his claims are testable.

      I can overlook, for a while, #1. All scientific hypothesis start out this way. However, in my review I showed several examples of how his metrics can be easily fooled– and thus invalid for detecting human intelligence much less a supernatural one. But whatever, let’s go on.

      #2 is a huge leap which is not supported by any evidence. Even if his tests were valid for detecting intelligence, who is to say that it applies to a god? This even goes against Biblical principles (Luke 4:12).

      #3 is major, and the part that kills ID as being some sort of science. Science demands a testable hypothesis, and nothing here is testable. The failings of #1 and #2 can be justified if there were testable claims, and those claims were tested, and the results supported ID. But they don’t.

      Ignoring all the bad writing and invalid analogies in Dembski’s article, it all boils down to this: Without a testable claim, ID is not science. That is the first requirement of science, a testable claim. ID doesn’t even get past that. Never mind the rest of what science demands (double-blind tests, peer-review, reproducible results, etc.), And that is why ID is not science.

      Now, using your example of an encrypted message being an indicator of an intelligence, I disagree. And I did cover this in my review. A perfectly encrypted message is indistinguishable from random/natural noise. So, in theory, you cannot distinguish between noise from a waterfall or other natural process and an encrypted message.


      • Hi David, I am sorry you did not find the article well written or clear. I looked over it just now and Dembski does give a brief description of complexity and specification. The description is not in great depth because it is a summary of ideas he presented in “The Design Inference” (which I would offer to buy for you, if you are interested).
        To the encrypted message question: suppose someone gives you a method for “unencrypting messages” and then gives you a seemingly random string of characters. If you find that when the unencryption method is applied to the string of characters it produces a coherent English message, then it is logical to infer that the string of characters were intelligently produced. The unencryption method is a specification. Granted, if you did not have this method, you would not know that the string was different than noise. It is the method paired with the message that indicates intelligence. I also agree that this was not exactly what I said in my last comment – although it was the basic idea I had in mind. I apologize for that.

        Cheers,


      • Travis, I’m not sure where you are going with encryption+key thing. (The “key” is the technical term for what you are calling the method of decryption.) I couldn’t dream up any scenario where that would support ID and/or specified complexity. Can you elaborate?

        The “most sense” to me (in the ID context) is if us humans provide the key, but then that causes huge problems. The first problem is that for any stream of data (an encrypted message, natural noise, the digits of PI, etc.) I can create a key that will unencrypt that data into any other arbitrary data. I could take the Bible and “decrypt” it into the U.S. Constitution or a script for Gilligan’s Island. So being able to decrypt a message into something resembling English, using a key I provide, is not an indication that the message was the product of intelligence.

        But let’s say that god provides the key. The problem here is that the decrypted message isn’t in English, or any other commonly spoken language. Interpreting the decrypted message is so very subjective and hugely influenced by the human failings of perception, bias, and susceptibility. Here is a short (2:38) and fun video demonstrating the susceptibility of our perception (http://youtu.be/nIwrgAnx6Q8).

        The other problem is that us humans don’t have any experience in decoding “messages” from gods. We don’t have any data on what such a message looks like. This is where we would normally require a testable claim and repeatable results– but we don’t have those for ID.

        As for your book offer: Thanks for the offer. Let me think about it, and read some reviews of it first. Mostly, I want to know if there is even a glimmer of hope that there is real science in that book and it won’t turn in to 264 pages of anti-science torture.


      • First off, that video was very strange, but quite popular.
        Since we are spending a lot of words on this subject. I will try to explain complexity, specification, and how they relate to ID as I understand it.
        The complexity of a message corresponds roughly to how much information (bits of data) it could contain. In his book, Dembski uses Kolmogorov complexity, which to my understanding is basically the length of the shortest algorithm which could produce a given message. If a message is not very complex, there is no reason to think it was intelligently produced since the odds of it occurring randomly or by some necessary process are not too small.
        However, a merely complex message may also be caused by chance if it has no actual meaning. That is where specification comes in. A specification is a pattern independent to the message which shows that the message has meaning. In this comment the specification is the English language. Since what I’ve written (I assume) means something in English, it is unlikely that it was produced by randomly hitting keys. In the encryption example, the key (thank you) is the specification that shows the noise-like message actually had an intelligent source.
        Dembski asserts that if a message or an artifact is both sufficiently complex and conforms to a specification, then it is most reasonable to infer that it had an intelligent source.
        Now we apply this to the genetic code found in the DNA of some life form. The DNA sequence is very long and large parts of it are non-repetitive; therefore, in all likelihood, the sequence of A’s, C’s, G’s, and T’s is really quite complex. However, neither is this sequence random, because then the life form could not function. The specification in this case is that the sequence is capable of producing all the proteins needed to build a life form, have it thrive, and reproduce itself. This puts a very strong constraint on which sequences of A’s, C’s, G’s, and T’s could form the DNA of a living thing.
        According to this line of reasoning, since the DNA sequence is both very complex and meets a very selective specification, the best explanation for its origin is intelligence, rather than chance, necessity, or some combination of those.
        That’s my basic understanding of the topic. I’m happy to continue to discuss it.
        Cheers,


      • The point of the video is that humans are very good at picking out patterns– even when they are not there. The words shown in the video are obviously not the words being sung, but when you read the words it is very hard to not to hear them. Humans are very susceptible to suggestion. But it is not limited to hearing words that are not there. It can be anything. The face on Mars, Bigfoot, UFO’s, the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast, conspiracy theories, demonic possession, etc. This makes it super easy to humans to see “the hand of God”, or “an intelligent designer” in places where there probably isn’t one.

        I follow your description of specific complexity (it actually was a very good description, in my opinion). There are problems with it, unfortunately. The problem is with the terms “sufficiently complex” and “reasonable to infer” in the quote below:

        Dembski asserts that if a message or an artifact is both sufficiently complex and conforms to a specification, then it is most reasonable to infer that it had an intelligent source.

        The reason why I have issue with those terms is that they are very subjective. Who is to decide what is sufficiently complex? And when has proven that it is reasonable to infer? I can guarantee that Dembski has different thresholds for complexity and reasonableness than I do (and probably different than scientists, etc.).

        Dembski tries to tie this into some sort of mathematical construct to solve the “sufficiently complex” problem, but he fails. Looking at the Kolmogorov Complexity thing, the results of that calculation would be a simple number that relates to the complexity of the input. But someone still has to decide if that number is over our arbitrary “complexity threshold”.

        Even more damning is that the Kolmogorov Complexity is not actually calculable. We can approximate it, or something like it, but we cannot actually figure out what the real complexity result is. When we look for randomness (cryptography context), or compress-ability (in a data compression context) that is what we are really doing– estimating something like the Kolmogorov complexity. An estimate itself isn’t bad, if we know the error bars on our estimate. But we don’t know those and cannot calculate it either.

        Another problem with creating an estimate of the Kolmogorov complexity is that our own human biases and weaknesses come into play. Maybe our concept of complexity does not match what an intelligent designers concept of complexity is. If that is the case, then any method we use for measuring that complexity won’t actually be measuring the correct thing. And currently there is no way to know if the complexity metric is even remotely correct.

        So Dembski uses an arbitrary metric with an unknown error, combined with another arbitrary “complexity threshold”, to answer the question of what is “sufficiently complex”.

        The concept of reasonableness is equally problematic, but more obviously based purely on human opinion. There are lots of examples where “reasonable” turned out to be very wrong (blood-letting, diseases caused by “ether”, flat earth, comets foretelling bad things, etc.). We don’t know what reasonable is, because nobody has ever detected a god before. The human race has no experience detecting the presence of a supernatural designer, and so we cannot automatically know what is reasonable here.

        Both of these issues, “sufficiently complex” and “reasonable to infer”, can both be solved by having a testable claim and repeatable experiments. Unfortunately for ID, it does not have these.

        As for your DNA example… It is not reasonable to assume that ID is the only possible source for DNA. There are literal mountains of evidence supporting evolution on this one, but I won’t bore you with the details. But at the same time, we don’t really know everything about DNA. For example, if you clone a cat the “offspring” will likely have a different color pattern on the fur. This is not predicted by the simplistic DNA model. While gene sequencing has been a major win for scientists, the biggest thing it did for us is to show our ignorance about how animals inherit characteristics from the parents. In fact, there is a new scientific field called epigenetics which is trying to figure out stuff beyond DNA. My point is that it is not valid to say that DNA is proof of a god when we don’t understand DNA in the first place.


      • Hi David,

        You make a very good point about Kolmogorov complexity being impossible to determine (aside from simple cases and putting an upper bound on it). I would be interested in how Dembski would respond to this issue, but I personally think you make a good point. As for the “threshold of complexity”, I believe Dembski refers to the “probability resources” of a situation, in this case the enitire universe. If it is extremely improbable that a given “message” would meet a relevant specification given one chance for every quantum event supposed ever to have occurred in the visible universe, then Dembski would consider this to be beyond the threshold. Of course, one can get around this be conjecturing an infinite (or vastly large) universe – or with the suggestion of many universes, as we have discussed.

        I agree that specified complexity in DNA does not “prove” God in some rigorous way. However, I think the argument still has some weight for the following reason: In our daily life we continually infer design by a similar kind of filter. When I pick up a book, I have no reasonable doubt that it was written by an intelligence. The same is true with most human artifacts. Dembski was attempting to make precise the reasoning process by which we infer that coherent writing, recognizable paintings, useful technology, etc. were designed by an intelligence. The result he came to was the filter of complexity and specification. In most, if not all, of the above situations the filter does reasonably reflect our reasoning process. Therefore, why should we reject it when it comes to analyzing the mechanisms of life and DNA sequences, unless we are a priori biased against there being a designing intelligence behind life or behind the universe? And what reason is there for an a priori bias against there being a Creator God?

        So, I see Dembski’s line of reasoning to be suggestive that life was designed, but I surely agree it is not a rigorous proof and would be extremely difficult or impossible to precisely quantify.

        Also, to your last point: my understanding is that there is no generally accepted or very persuasive explanation for how life could have come about in the first place by natural processes alone. This is a point which another ID scholar, Stephen Meyer, especially emphasizes. If we have no naturalistic explanation, why should we automatically reject an ID explanation? “God of the gaps” does not seem to me to be a good response. First, because the Judeo-Christian religion never really came about as an attempt to explain natural occurrences to unscientific people (unless the dividing of the Red Sea in response to Moses’ staff, for example, was a natural occurrence), second, because one may as easily accuse the other side of using “naturalism of the gaps”, where all sorts of problems are glossed over in the faith that there is some (unknown) natural explanation, and third, because the inference to a designing intelligence is not an argument from ignorance, but rather an argument from analogy to known human design.

        Cheers,


      • Travis, I tried to write a response several times and deleted them all. I mention this to point out that it is super difficult to respond in a concise way– so forgive me if I am not quite as clear as I wish to be. I’m going to very quickly go through the many issues you brought up, probably not covering any of them in enough detail.

        Science bias against ID: ID is not science. Science is, um, science. Nobody should be surprised to see that scientists dismiss ID. Its like a dress maker dismissing a really good French Souffle. If a testable claim for ID is made, then ID becomes science and scientists will pay more attention.

        Evolution as an alternative to ID: The scientific backing for evolution is mindbogglingly huge. The consensus among scientists is equally huge. It is incorrect to say that there is no scientific explanation for life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution

        Judeo-Christianity explaining nature: That might not have been an initial reason, but it is certainly a major factor today. Every time there is a major disaster, some pastor/priest is claiming that it is punishment for something.

        “Naturalism of the gaps”: That’s not really a fair comparison, for many reasons. For starters, scientists don’t have issues with saying “we don’t know”. (Pop-sci people might be a different issue, but we’re not talking about those people.) Second, scientists have written literally thousands or tens of thousands of papers that support evolution– while there are few to none supporting ID.

        “Design from Inference…not an argument from ignorance…”: Because ID relies on untestable claims and arbitrary (subjective) thresholds it is essentially an argument from ignorance. An argument from ignorance is essentially “I don’t know, therefore god”. But ID is essentially, “I cannot imagine anything THIS COMPLEX being not from god”– where the threshold for “THIS COMPLEX” being something that someone made up out of the blue.


  2. Hi David,

    I feel that perhaps we have both said what we need to say for now. I feel that I have presented some of what I know about the subject and have expressed my thoughts to a reasonable degree. If you are interested in researching ID arguments more, you have the two book suggestions I’ve given and the Discovery Institute website is a good resource.

    It seems that you are not likely to reevaluate your position at this time based on any thoughts I present. Neither, do I at all suppose that I will accept the grand theory of evolution because, despite having read a bit about it, I still find its fundamental claims (an ordered universe arising for no reason out of nothing, abiogenesis, and the rise of all higher life by random mutation and natural selection) to be highly implausible. Beyond this I find reasons to believe in the Christian God based on inferred design in nature, fulfilled prophecy, the testimony of the apostles and other godly men, the transforming power of the Gospel in human hearts, and experiences I have had in my own life.

    I have enjoyed this discussion and would not really mind continuing, but it does seem that we have both had our more or less full say.

    Peace,


    • I agree that this discussion has run it’s course. I just have one final point, and then I’ll try to write a conclusion.

      The one point is that it is not an “evolution or ID” debate. One could easily say that “god created the process of evolution”, and not be at odds with the ID concept. We shouldn’t judge the quality of ID based on whatever we think of evolution.

      I’ve said many times (outside of this discussion): You cannot scientifically prove that god does not exist. You also cannot scientifically prove that god does exist. How we respond to that conclusion says volumes about who we are as a hopefully rational being.

      My response is to say that I just don’t know. I see no hard evidence for a god (or intelligent designer), but I cannot rule it out. At the same time I cannot say with absolute certainty that evolution is 100% correct. Odds are that some form of evolution is correct, but I really can’t say for certain. But here’s the important thing: I don’t need evolution to be true in order for me to say that ID is wrong. (And I’m not saying that ID is wrong or right, I’m saying that ID is not science.) What’s more, I am OK saying that I don’t know exactly how we came into being.

      The way you respond is by saying that you believe in a Christian God. Others might say that they believe that there is no god at all. And still others will express their faith in Islam, Buddha, etc. It is up for debate if any of these conclusions are supported by the evidence. (Spoiler: I say no.)

      But in any debate about creation/ID/religion/god/etc, we must be mindful that once the debate is distilled down to its essence all we are left with is: We cannot scientifically prove/disprove the existence of god. And that essence puts perspective on the whole debate.

      For me, it is the scientific process that is important and not the end result. I currently think that the God of the Bible does not exist (but a more generic god may or may not exist). If new evidence comes to light then I have absolutely no problems changing my stance. My ideology is not tied to the current state of scientific understanding.

      I enjoyed this discussion, precisely because it forced me to re-evaluate my stance. Along the way, I learned a thing or two. In the end, I concluded that my stance didn’t need to change. I would have actually welcomed a change in stance because it would have meant that I learned something ground breaking.

      I look forward to the next time we get into a discussion. Thanks!


    • I just ran across this video. It’s of Dembski on the Daily Show saying that evolution and ID are not incompatible with each other. I’m not really trying to make a point, I just thought it was an interesting video.


      • Hi David,
        I don’t disagree with that. When I made my last comment I somewhat forgot that our discussion had been focused on ID only and added some of my thoughts on related subjects. Many ID scholars emphasize that they do not have a problem with the claim of universal common descent, but with the proposed neo-Darwinian mechanism of species creation and with the theory of abiogenesis.



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