16. Intelligent Design

Click here to hear episode #16.

The theory of Intelligent Design has been subjected to severe criticism. However, most of these criticisms take the form of bad philosophical arguments. While not taking a stand on the issue, I analyze and reject these criticisms, arguing that the debate about Intelligent Design must be settled on scientific turf. For the book review I take a look at The Evidential Argument from Evil, edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder.

See the full transcript.

  1. To me, both creationism and ID make an argument from personal incredulity or ignorance, because:

    1. I don’t see a change in knowledge about the world between claiming “God/The designer did it” and “I don’t know”. So unless, there is some other way to determine the existence of God/the designer, it’s useless to assert an answer to a mystery by another mystery.

    2. Further understanding of reality only comes through the discovery of a naturalistic explanation, as the creationist/IDer has already stopped researching. In theories past, this has always been the trend: lighting is the wrath of God, disease is the punishement from God, the motions of the planets is controlled by God, until we understand the natural process behind it.

    I think your problem with methodological naturalism is misplaced and comes from, what I consider, the incoherence of the term supernatural. If there is a God which acts in the universe, it makes perfect sense for methodological naturalism to find such interactions and discover their cause, because then God is a component of reality, even if not of our ordinary space-time.

    — Richard    Jun 6, 08:19 PM    #
  2. Hi Kyle,

    As a regular listener to your podcasts, I’m always impressed with your formidable reasoning skills. However, I do want to take issue with some of your arguments in #16,

    1)Newton’s belief in the supernatural didn’t alter the fact that his methodology was naturalistic. Methodological naturalism follows from the requirement that results be reproducible. The scientific method requires statistical reproducibility, which means that similar observations are made in the setting of similar conditions. If a phenomenon is reliably observed whenever a particular set of conditions occur, then it is defined as natural. If blood diseases are cured every time the patient touches a garment, or the sea parts whenever we command it, or thousands of people can always be fed with 7 loaves and 5 fishes, then we would recognize these phenomena as natural. The demand for reproducibility of results disallows scientists from making use of supernatural observations. This applies to methodology and really has nothing to do with personal belief.

    2)Archaeologists do make predictions; they predict evidence that supports a particular theory of the past. When that evidence accumulates, their prediction is fulfilled.

    3)A theory is “un-falsifiable” if it is compatible with any possible evidence. The theory of evolution is not compatible with any possible evidence. For example, evolution is compatible with the finding that human and chimpanzee DNA sequences are more similar than human and mouse DNA sequences. It’s not compatible with the finding that human and mouse DNA sequences are more similar than human and chimp DNA sequences. The theory of evolution is falsifiable.

    4)I agree with you that ID is “falsifiable.” However, I think ID proponents have a pretty tall order to fill. They can’t just assert that ID follows from the falsity of evolution.

    Anyway, despite my criticism, I’m actually a fan. Keep up the good work.

    Anthony    Jun 7, 03:45 PM    #
  3. Stumbled upon this podcast the other day. I’m myself a christian but also a biologist, so it’s almost a given that I’m not too keen about ID. I have listened to many pro/con ID podcasts and I must say that your presentation is very nuanced and fair, and I’m in particular impressed with your respect of scientific knowledge. I’ll probably disagree with you on a few points regarding the philosophical critiques of ID, but I most compliment you on the wisdom of avoiding the scientific case for ID. I couldnt find a contact menu on your webpage, so that’s why I’m sending this her. Myself and a theology friend have founded an organisation that deals with faith and science conflicts – both real and perceived conflicts. Unfortunately for you, the material is mostly in our mothertongue so you won’t understand the introduction. But we’ve made a few english-spoken interviews with people such as alister mcgrath, ken ham, and ken r. miller etc. Please check them out if you’re interested. In particular Ken R. Miller might be interesting regarding ID as he discusses the mousetrap idea. If you don’t know who Ken Miller is, he was one of the pro-evolution expert witnesses in the Dover trial. Interestingly he’s also a christian.

    Here’s a link to our podcast page: http://www.dialogos.fo/?page_id=826

    Also here’s a prezi I made on “who’s who in the evolution creation debate”. I would appreciate your comments on the prezi, especially if you think I’ve not presented the ID fairly.


    Anyway, let’s stay in touch. You have a very good podcast and webpage. Keep up the good work!


    Sjurdur Hammer    Apr 23, 10:46 AM    #
  4. Thanks Sjurdur, I’m familiar with all the experts you mention, that’s quite an impressive lineup of speakers! Thanks for your compliments on the podcast, I’m listening to your interview with Ken Miller right now.

    Also, checked out the Prezi and I thought it was fair, nice job and a cool presentation!

    All the best,

    Kyle Deming

    Kyle Deming    Apr 23, 11:55 PM    #
  Textile Help