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Is ID Really Rooted in Science?

Given that the most spectacular documented successes of natural selection are: changing the color of the peppered moth and the length of the beak of the Galapagos Finch, and the development of resistance to antibiotics by bacteria, and that even these trivial examples are now all in dispute, and that no competing natural explanation for evolution has ever been taken seriously by more than a small band of scientists, where is the “overwhelming” evidence that the development of life is due to natural (unintelligent) causes alone?

There are, in fact, some fairly persuasive reasons to believe that the development of life was due to natural causes, but when we honestly analyze them, they all reduce to the argument “this doesn’t look like the way a designer would have done things.” Darwin himself used this argument frequently in “Origin of Species”.

There are other persuasive philosophical arguments against design in biological origins: for example, the steady progress made in other areas of science in explaining things which previously were attributed to design (though we are now discovering in many cases that design was there after all, it just dates back to the creation of the universe, with its cleverly designed natural laws and the very fortuitious values of the constants associated with these laws). When we look at human history, it is sometimes very hard to see any evidence of design–the unspeakable sufferings of the human race and its tendency toward evil cause any thinking person to wonder “is this the way a designer would have done things??” I have attempted to address this here , but in my view it is still the most serious objection of all to design. When we look at the history of religion it is equally hard to see design–there are serious problems with the Bible and with organized Christianity (not to mention other religions) that are the primary motivations for many people in our culture to look for an explanation of our existence that does not involve God.

But the important thing to notice here is that virtually all of the good arguments against design come from outside science, they are all basically philosophical, or even religious, objections. If it were not for these problems, I don’t believe anyone could possibly look at mathematics, or physics, or chemistry, or especially at biology, without seeing design. The scientific evidence for design in Nature is absolutely overwhelming, it leaps out at you from every corner of science.

The popular picture of ID proponents is that we are trying to take a purely religious idea and smuggle it into science, where it does not fit. This picture could not possibly be more backward. Why do we keep insisting that ID is rooted in science? Because, damn it, it is!

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15 Responses to Is ID Really Rooted in Science?

  1. Design in nature is obvious and overwhelming. Nearly everyone sees it and acknowledges it. You can’t take a walk through the woods without being inundated with design. The problem is many believe design was caused by unintelligent processes which IMHO is simply no longer a viable belief. With discoveries such as molecular machines and the apparent inadequacy of natural selection as a creative force the “debate” is over in my mind. It’s a philosophical war at this point. Hardcore darwinists will not give up no matter how much scientific evidence is accumulated against their philosophy, so it’s a waiting game. The problem of evil in nature is a real one, and can be used against the idea of a benevolent God, but it simply doesn’t work against design due to mounting evidence. I think in coming years and decades, the atheist’s only out will be to assume multiple universes, and in some other universe darwinian type processes actually do work as a creative force, and intelligence arose and created our universe as a type of science project. Sounds crazy, but people will go to any length to avoid the “G” word.

  2. “Is ID really rooted in science?”

    Here’s further support for Sewell’s thesis: go through the literature for and against ID, both popular and technical, and see who says religion is a vital issue in the discussion. Overwhelmingly, you’ll find, it’s the other side, not ID.

  3. Here’s a reference to the Gospels that we’re all familiar with, but which takes on a mysterious dimension when we begin to ponder the presence of evil in our world:

    “There was an owner who went out and planted wheat on his field, and while he was asleep, his enemy came by and planted weeds in his field . . . .” Jesus came to overcome the kingdom of Satan, and what does he do? He “cures” the sick. As I say, there’s a mysterious dimension to all of this.

  4. I would say that ID is deeply rooted in simple observation: what is seen

    So in that sense ID is science. ID has, of course, something to do with Christianity because Christianity says (via St. Paul) that what is not observed is understood by what is observed. That, in anybody’s language, is a good part of science.

    Clearly (!), the Pope (and others) make increasingly greater efforts not to lose credibility by making incorrect statements about new discoveries or by exposing God’s “deeper roots” with too much blinding dazzle.

    Sometimes, we expect our leaders or writers to be perfectly clear on certain points: “This is exactly the way it is”, “this is exactly what he said”. We also wish that God had been somewhat more specific about his creation business.

    In effect then we are demanding both freedom and bondage. We want to know exactly without knowing how truth is distinguished from what is not truth.

    Drawing on others, Granville has, perhaps, offered the most succinct and correct theoretical answer to the problem of pain and suffering.

    The practical part of the answer is, first, the will (freedom) to accept (risk) the problem. Second, the resolve not to be consumed by the problem. Third, the hope that the problem will not “get” me. Fourth, should the problem “get” me, the honesty to admit the former blessings were greater than the problem.

    Again, the observation of those who can overcome the problem points to what cannot be seen: that love is the only resolution to the problem, and is far greater than the problem. Such an observation is scientific. At the same time the observation is an icon, an image, a window to an unseen world of countless evidences.

    And fifth, never finally, to let the timeless time in observed time to heal the problem. A scientific observation pointing to what is unseen, yet greater than anything conceivable.

    So ID is scientific because it is observable. That it is also an icon (window) through which deeper unseen things are understood is no different than any other part of creation.

    What is random or necessary is, like design, observable.

  5. PaV,
    I totally agree with you. The more I learn about ID the more fascinating and exciting the world becomes. I am also more and more convinced that science is not reaching its limits, but just beginning to discover many things that are mysterious to us now.

  6. Ahhhh!! It’s so frustrating that this question even needs to be posed! OF COURSE ID is rooted in science. What else could it possibly be rooted in???

    It is a hypothesis from an observation for crying out loud. Now, I am no scientist, that’s for sure, but even I can see that if it looks designed, we need to explore whether it is designed. That is what Dr. Dembski’s books are doing.

    Just because Satan blinds our eyes to God’s beauty doesn’t mean that he puts up false evidence supporting bizarre ideas like all species originating from a single-celled, chemical reaction that can’t even be defined as life!

    If we weren’t trying to prop up a corrupt consumerist economic structure with lies about how science really shows us that there is no right and wrong, darwinism would have no purpose. The whole field of darwinism would wither and die. There would be no food for it.

    ID is not an “argument from incredulity” or a “god of the gaps” problem. There are so many things we can’t explain.

  7. “and can be used against the idea of a benevolent God”

    It can really only be employed against the idea of an omnipotent benevolent God. Perhaps there is a designer(s) and it is not absolutely omnipotent. (In my thinking, this would have to be the case.) That is enough to deflect criticism. Personally, I prefer to limit the designers power than limit his/their benevolence. But I must limit at least one of them to account for what exists.

  8. “When we look at human history, it is sometimes very hard to see any evidence of design–the unspeakable sufferings of the human race and its tendency toward evil cause any thinking person to wonder “is this the way a designer would have done things??””

    If the designer(s) is not omnipotent, and if, perhaps, all humans (whatever our consciousness is) had a prior existence in some other “life”, we very well may have chosen this earth with all it’s problems for some reason. To learn perhaps? To manifest our nature? Perhaps in rebellion against the designer(s), or maybe as some kind of virtual reality game for supercosmic beings? Who knows. There are all kinds of interesting possibilities. But what is certain, the people who sophomorically rant against a designer(s)do not seem to have spent much time thinking about such things.

  9. 9

    Was the peppered moth thing even real?

  10. As usual, Granville Sewell presents the obvious as it is: obvious.

    There is a very interesting and intriguing phenomenon at work here. One must ask, Why is so much effort invested in, and why are so many silly arguments made in defense of, the notion that the universe and living systems are not designed?

    The answer to this question, it seems to me, is obvious.

  11. Personally, I have no problem squaring away evils in our world and nature with the concept of an omnibenevolent, omnipotent deity. However, I do agree that ID as a concept can be explored entirely apart from any specific religion. You don’t need to know how powerful or kind-hearted the inventor of the bicycle is to both discover how it works and to determine it was intentionally designed.

  12. I think we are in danger here of assuming others can see things clearly as we do.

    The vast majority of the scientific world have been told that ID is a US religious movement and I think they believe it. That stops them seriously considering ID.

  13. “The vast majority of the scientific world have been told that ID is a US religious movement and I think they believe it. That stops them seriously considering ID.”

    And if you read this site, is the impression one gets much different. About 2/3 (my subjective impression) of the threads include religious discussions of something with quotes from the bible frequently sprinkled throughout.

  14. eebrom beat me to it:

    “I would say that ID is deeply rooted in simple observation: what is seen”

    Bravo!

  15. Jerry,

    “And if you read this site, is the impression one gets much different. About 2/3 (my subjective impression) of the threads include religious discussions of something with quotes from the bible frequently sprinkled throughout.”

    Granted, but I think you’ll find the same association with atheism on a lot of pro-orthodoxy (rather, Darwinian orthodoxy) sites, especially in the comments section.

    I don’t think anyone denies that the ID v Darwinism fight has religious motivation for many. The key is realizing that many in the opposition have religious motivation as well; they cannot accept that seeing intention and design in the history of life is plausible. Not because it’s been ruled out by science (on the contrary), but for personal reasons. In a way, I view the attitude towards ID as similar to the attitude towards the Big Bang, or QM, in the early days of those theories – the opposition was many times based on philosophical, even (a)theological considerations, though they’d rally science when they could.

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