Does Ignoring the Designer Make Intelligent Design Real Science?

In a recent episode of the podcast, ID the Future, Casey Luskin argues that Intelligent Design (ID) proponents do not let the question of the identity of the designer enter the discussion.  He believes this avoidance of such a central aspect of the idea of ID allows it to be science.  He reasons that if they do not ever talk about a supernatural designer, then Intelligent Design does not rely on the supernatural.

The first problem with this type of attitude is that ignoring the cause of an effect (the designer is the cause and each living being is the effect) makes it not science.  Imagine if a new disease was discovered and the people studying it decided that they were not going to study the cause of the disease.  All they want to study is its characteristics because the disease could have metaphysical causes.  This group would be harshly criticized and could lose their funding.  Drawing an arbitrary line to separate what can and can’t be included is unscientific.

Luskin is using this attitude as a get-out-of-jail-free card.  He wants to take away the completely valid criticisms that the idea is based on the supernatural.  However, the identity and properties of the designer are paramount to the theory.  Similarly, the mechanisms behind evolution are paramount to the Theory of Evolution.  Without knowing the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the designer, the whole idea of ID is worthless.

Not only is Luskin using this as a get-out-of-jail-free card, but he is having his cake and eating it too (sorry for all the sayings).  He wants all the benefits from having an all-powerful, all-knowing, yet sloppy designer, but doesn’t want to have to deal with the problems  and criticisms associated with the acknowledging the characteristics of the designer.  This method of saying that the designer is off-limits does just that.

Luskin argues that intelligent design is squarely in the realm of science because it deals with the empirical. Yet, the tenets of intelligent design are all based on nonquantifiable characteristics.  Irreducible complexity is not quantifiable or even a cohesive idea.  The same could be said for “apparent design” or Dembski’s use of information theory.  So even if you do ignore the designer, ID is not real science.

The reasons listed above show us that leaving out the identity of the designer is a political move not a scientific one.  It is used to pretend that ID is not religiously motivated so it won’t be subject to the establishment clause of the U.S. constitution.  This goal of the Discovery Institute and other ID proponents is becoming obvious with the constant promoting of “academic freedom” bills and the push to create pro-intelligent design student groups.

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One Response

  1. Perhaps in their mission statement they leave out the identity of the designer, however they were quick to lambaste Richard Dawkins when he suggested a designer could be an alien (just check out the first few links here). So for them, the identity of the designer is not important – so long as it’s not an alien intelligence. Frankly, outside of that I can’t think of another intelligence that isn’t supernatural.

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