Intelligent Design purports to be part of a better way to do science. Instead of unnecessarily limiting ourselves to natural explanations, all explanations are on the table, including supernatural ones involving an intelligent designer. From the Discovery Institute’s page about Intelligent Design (ID):
“The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago. “
Now, from the above definition you might think this could still refer to naturalistic explanations. But first ask yourself what sort of being could do all of the above; could such works be the result of a being bounded by the natural world or does it better describe the workings of a being outside of nature? Fortunately, you do not have to consider this question too long. In reading the literature available on this site and the writings of those most closely associated with the Intelligent Design movement, it becomes readily apparent that they are not only not fans of the methodological naturalism that underlies all of modern science, but are actively hostile to it. For the Intelligent Design “scientist”, supernatural explanations are no problem whatsoever. In fact, they are preferred.
In reading the literature and the articles available on this website, it becomes readily apparent that all of their evidence consists of arguments about why evolution through natural means, through natural selection and other naturalistic mechanisms, are inadequate and why, therefore, an intelligent agent must have done it. For example, from an article that Stephen Meyer published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, and available on the Discovery Institute’s website:
“Analysis of the problem of the origin of biological information, therefore, exposes a deficiency in the causal powers of natural selection that corresponds precisely to powers that agents are uniquely known to possess. Intelligent agents have foresight. Such agents can select functional goals before they exist. They can devise or select material means to accomplish those ends from among an array of possibilities and then actualize those goals in accord with a preconceived design plan or set of functional requirements. Rational agents can constrain combinatorial space with distant outcomes in mind. The causal powers that natural selection lacks–almost by definition–are associated with the attributes of consciousness and rationality–with purposive intelligence. Thus, by invoking design to explain the origin of new biological information, contemporary design theorists are not positing an arbitrary explanatory element unmotivated by a consideration of the evidence. Instead, they are positing an entity possessing precisely the attributes and causal powers that the phenomenon in question requires as a condition of its production and explanation.”
Now, there are glaring problems with all of their arguments along these lines, but I am not going to deal with them here. Instead, I wish to point out a glaring blank spot in all of their writings. A blank spot that, if they were true scientists and truly trying to find out how the world around us works, would have a great deal of research being done in trying to fill it in. After all, that is what science and scientists do – look at what is unknown and try to find out about it, in detail. Scientists are motivated by a desire to fill in the blank spaces of our world.
Yet, ID “scientists” do not even try to examine their huge blank spot. Which is really rather perplexing since they use this blank spot all the time to explain why evolution is wrong. The blank spot I am talking about is the Intelligent Designer and how that being(s) works.
Nowhere in the their “scientific” literature that I examined did I find even a hint on who the Intelligent Designer is. No ongoing research, no searching for clues for his/her/its identity…..nothing. Nor is there any research going on about how the Intelligent Designer works.
For example, where are the research proposals to find out how this creature manages to insert his/her/it/their changes into already living beings? Where are the searches for clues that might shed light on this how this is done? Where are the experiments designed to figure out which criteria he/she/it/they use to determine when to meddle and when to let the more natural and mundane forces of nature take their course? Where are the papers on whether or not the Intelligent Designer is still active on when was the last time that his/her/its/their hand wrote upon nature and will he/she/it/they write again?
All of these questions and more about the Intelligent Designer and how he/she/it/they work, that a true scientist would be working hard on answering are, instead, a huge blank spot. Nowhere in this supposed science is it addressed, not even as speculation.
In real science, we have scientists speculating and trying to figure out why the laws of the universe are the way they are, why our universe can support life and then proposing ideas for answering these questions, often proposing tests to find out if a particular idea is true or not. Or within evolution, trying to understand how natural selection works, what its limitations are, how it works, how fast, etc. Yet Intelligent Design seems to be barren when it comes to similar questions about who the Intelligent Designer is and how he/she/it/they work their works.
In Intelligent Design all we have are critiques going on and on about how natural selection, genetic drift and all the other naturalistic explanations do not really explain biological complexity. Critiques alone are not science. Not even nearly. Especially when they are such poor criticisms.
Of course, the reason why the Intelligent Design movement does not delve into these questions is because they already know the answer. God did it. And knowing the answer they have created a “science” to support their answer. A classic case of the tail wagging the dog, of putting the cart before the horse, of a way to protect an entrenched belief from reality.
Science is about asking questions and then looking hard at the world and following where the evidence leads. By contrast, Intelligent Design is about already knowing the answer and never mind if it is correct or not, and then warping the world around them to fit that answer. That is not science, that is dogma dressed up in science clothing.