2nd KU class denies status of science to design theory

After being denied the much sought after status as ‘scientific’, Intelligent Design has run into another roadblock, upsetting the time line laid out in the Wedge Strategy

Intelligent design — already the planned subject of a controversial Kansas University seminar this spring — will make its way into a second KU classroom in the fall, this time labeled as a “pseudoscience.”

In addition to intelligent design, the class Archaeological Myths and Realities will cover such topics as UFOs, crop circles, extrasensory perception and the ancient pyramids.

Intelligent Design arguments, which used to be hidden in the darkness of gaps in our knowledge, have become under intense scrutiny recently. And the result is not unexpected: ID has been found to be scientifically vacuous.

Pro-science editorials by Krauthammer and Kriegel have given support to this thesis.

Not surprisingly, the immediate response by ID proponents has been to accuse ID critics of not understanding or misrepresenting ID positions by not quoting their positions verbatim. It should come as no surprise that most ID proponents are careful in formulating their ‘hypotheses’ in a pseudo-scientific manner, carefully avoiding references to revealed religion. However, it also becomes clear quickly, that their ‘hypotheses’ carry no scientific weight.

For instance Krauthammer observed:

[Intelligent design] is a self-enclosed, tautological “theory” whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge – in this case, evolution – they are to be filled by God.”

Let’s see how this fits with reality:

Tautological: Behe testified in the Kitzmiller trial

Q Intelligent design does not describe how the design occurred.

A That’s correct, just like the Big Bang theory does not describe what caused the Big Bang.

Q Does not identify when the design occurred.

A That is correct.

Q It [Intelligent Design] says nothing about what the designer’s abilities are.

A Other than saying that the designer had the ability to make the design that is under consideration, that’s correct.

Q It sounds pretty tautological, Professor Behe.

Q Intelligent design says nothing about the intelligent designer’s motivations?

A The only statement it makes about that is that the designer had the motivation to make the structure that is designed.

Q How can intelligent design possibly make that statement, Professor Behe?

A I don’t understand your question.

Q How can it possibly say anything about the intelligent designer’s motives without knowing anything about who the intelligent designer is?

“theory”: Appropriately between quotes because as even ID proponents have admitted, there is no “theory of intelligent design”. While ID proponents are still hopeful that a scientifically relevant theory may be forthcoming, the chances of such seem to be quite ‘complex’ (an ID term meaning improbable).

gaps: As Del Ratzsch and others have pointed out, the ID approach is based on a ‘set theoretic complement of regularity and chance’ or in laymen terms: that which remains when known chance and regularity hypotheses have been eliminated. Statisticians refer to this as the ‘null hypothesis’ and ID proponents have replaced this notion with a notion of ‘design’. It should be clear by now that the ID approach is based on an argument from ignorance and presents no additional scientific knowledge.

gaps filled by God: Again, not explicitly acknowledged by ID proponents but inferred simply by observing the following:

  1. ID proponents argue that science rejects Intelligent Design a priori
  2. ID proponents argue that science successfully applies intelligent design inferences in areas such as archeology, criminology, SETI and cryptography.
  3. In other words, Intelligent Design cannot be that which science already successfully achieves.
  4. ID proponents lament that science restricts itself to methodological naturalism, precluding any role for the supernatural

The conclusion is but inevitable: the Intelligent Designer must be supernatural.

In addition, few realize that Dembski has made an important concession:

Ryan Nichols wrote:

“Before I proceed, however, I note that Dembski makes an important concession to his critics. He refuses to make the second assumption noted above. When the EF implies that certain systems are intelligently designed, Dembski does not think it follows that there is some intelligent designer or other. He says that, “even though in practice inferring design is the first step in identifying an intelligent agent, taken by itself design does not require that such an agent be posited. The notion of design that emerges from the design inference must not be confused with intelligent agency” (TDI, 227, my emphasis).

Source: Ryan Nichols, Scientific content, testability, and the vacuity of Intelligent Design theory The American Catholic philosophical quarterly, 2003 ,vol. 77 ,no 4 ,pp. 591 - 611

When ID proponents are asked to explain the how, why, when which would give the gap argument some independent support they are quick to show why ID is doomed to remain scientifically vacuous

Dembski wrote:

“As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”

Source: ISCID forum

Brian Sandefur, a mechanical engineer and ID proponent, argued that “The two areas that KU is trying to box this issue into are completely inappropriate,” and considers a more appropriate venue to discuss ID in classes discussing chemistry and biology.

But Sandefur said intelligent design was rooted in chemistry and molecular biology, not religion, and it should be discussed in science courses.

An interesting argument: ID is rooted in chemistry and biology?… How… One could make a claim that it is a mathematical claim, but that seems to be the fullest extent of ID.

Some recent editorials

Ben Bova: Arguments for intelligent design are unconvincing in the Naples Daily News (subscription required)

What do the ID people have to counter this evidence? Nothing except their claims that life is too complex to have arisen without an Intelligent Designer to create it.

And what does that statement tell us about life and its origins? Nothing!

ID boils down to sheer ignorance. It claims that we can’t know how life began because it’s too complicated for our poor little brains to understand. Don’t ask questions. Be content with the idea that an Intelligent Designer did it all and we cannot, ever, understand how it was done.

I find that statement close to hypocrisy. The goal of ID’s supporters, it seems to me, is to get Darwin out of the classroom — or at least to undermine the teaching of Darwinian evolution to our school children. They are determined to remove Darwin from the schools.

Honest, God-fearing Christians fear that if Darwin is right, and we humans arose as a result of natural processes, then the entire Christian faith is in doubt, including the belief that Christ died on the cross to redeem us.

SCIENCE TEST Christians can’t afford to oppose evolution by Richard Colling

A second important case, to be decided outside the courtroom in the arena of public opinion, also looms large. This case concerns how the public views Christians. And while perhaps not immediately apparent, either way the Dover school board case turns out, intelligent design will continue to severely damage the case for God and Christian faith.

Even worse, the damage is largely self-inflicted by Christian leaders’ unwitting and undiscerning endorsements of intelligent design.

Richard Colling is very outspoken on Intelligent Design:

In his new book, “Random Designer,” he writes: “It pains me to suggest that my religious brothers are telling falsehoods” when they say evolutionary theory is “in crisis” and claim that there is widespread skepticism about it among scientists. “Such statements are blatantly untrue,” he argues; “evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny. [1]”

(Sharon Begley in Tough Assignment: Teaching Evolution To Fundamentalists, Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2004; Page A15 )