ID vs. evolution

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post at his blog, Jason Rosenhouse wrote “Truly, ID is dead.”  In response, Vincent Torley (vjtorley), at Uncommon Descent, has posted “Is Intelligent Design dead?“.

Rosenhouse was mainly commenting on his observation that the UD blog has deteriorated to the point where it is posting some rather silly arguments.  In his response, Torley doesn’t actually say much about that.  Instead, he gives some of the tired old arguments that evolution is impossible (never mind the evidence for evolution).

My first reaction to Torley’s post, was that it supports the point that Rosenhouse makes.  ID has run out of ideas and is not making any real progress.

A thought experiment

Imagine a farmer.  The farmer is having trouble with his crops.  They are being damaged by a blight that has recently shown up.

If the farmer seeks advice from an evolutionist, then a program might be suggested for looking at genetics or looking at mutant varieties and selecting those most resistant to the blight.  This is a method of addressing his problem that goes back to well before the theory of evolution was formulated.

If, instead, the farmer seeks advice from an ID proponent, what advice will he be given?  The ID proponent cannot identify a designer to whom he could appeal.  The ID proponent cannot even identify a method of design.

This is the real problem for ID.  They have not come up with anything useful.

Theology vs. Science

Although ID proponents sometimes pretend otherwise, ID comes from theological ideas.

Theology is oriented toward ascertaining ultimate metaphysical truth.  Science has a pragmatic core, so is oriented toward what is useful.  Philosophy seems to be dominated by concern about ultimate truth, which is perhaps why it sometimes looks a bit too much like theology.

Even if it were to turn out that ID is ultimately true, science would still prefer evolution for pragmatic reasons.  It answer important questions, such as that raised by the farmer in our thought experiment.  It explains how bacterial resistance to antibiotics develops.  It explains how the biosphere changes over time.

If we had access to ultimate truth, we could answer questions such as “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”  Scientists, with their pragmatic outlook, do not care for such questions.  They see it as a question not worth asking and not worth answering, but it has no actual practical use.

A suggestion for ID

Instead of studying reasons to believe that evolution is impossible, why not study reasons to believe that intelligent design is possible.  See if you can come up with some design methodologies for designing something equivalent to a biological organism.  Maybe try to look for a designer solution for the farmer in our thought experiment.

If you are even partially successful, you will have a better case that ID is science.

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