The absurdity of intelligent design

The absurdity of intelligent design by Elia Leibowitz in Ha’aretz.

Leibowitz quickly converges on the problem with ID, showing why the analogy of design by “known designers” fails when it comes to unknown designers. The argument is similar to that by ShallitWilkins and Elsberry who consider the case of ordinary design vs rarefied design.

Wilkins and Elsberry wrote:

So now there appears to be two kinds of design - the ordinary kind based on a knowledge of the behavior of designers, and a “rarefied” design, based on an inference from ignorance, both of the possible causes of regularities and of the nature of the designer

ID proponents like to refer to Mount Rushmore and extend the analogy to the biological world but they overlook a crucial difference.

Leibowitz wrote:

The main weakness in the idea of an intelligent designer is that it is impossible to see it as any sort of explanation of the phenomenon it purports to illuminate. The main premise at the basis of its argument can be presented thus: No reasonable person would think that the wonderful paintings by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel could have been produced as the result of random processes, without intention and without intelligence. The same applies to the F-16 aircraft. How much more so is an explanation like this necessary for biological systems in the world, which are inestimably more complex.

However, this conclusion is based on reasoning based on a nonsensical premise. The assumption that an intelligent being designed the F-16 does indeed constitute a satisfactory explanation for the existence of this complex system, because we know of the existence of aeronautical engineers, in a way that is independent of our knowledge of the plane itself. The thought that the hand of an intelligent being painted the Sistine Chapel can explain the paintings, only because we possess prior knowledge of the existence of beings who can design and execute such works.

With respect to the natural world and the universe, however, we do not have any prior knowledge of the existence of an intelligence that is capable of planning them. Concluding from the existence of the complex and wonderful world that an intelligent designer exists is not an explanation of the phenomenon, but rather a psychological result of it.

The article continues with an interesting story showing the vacuity of the ID argument, concluding that

Leibowtiz wrote:

And this is exactly what the proponents of intelligent design are saying. We see a wonderful world. The explanation for its complexity is an intelligent being who designed it. And if you ask us how we know that such an entity exists, we will answer immediately: Isn’t the existence of a marvelous world like this sufficient proof?