Intelligent Design 101
In this day and age in which information is virtually at our finger tips, it amazes me how little most critics of Intelligent Design actually know about it. In the following essay I will try to help those critics, as well anyone else who may care, understand ID reality.
As for myself I have always stated that ID is about the detection AND understanding of (the) design. What do other IDists say:
Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence. -- William A. Dembski
(That one sentence alone refutes what many anti-IDists, including Professors Scott L. Page (aka huxter, pangloss, doppleganger) of Norwich Univ. in Vermont and Joe Meert of the University of Florida, say about ID- that ID is just about the detecting of the design and once the design is detected there isn't anything else to do. These are also dealt with in my ID PRATT List blog.)
How would one understand the design? By studying it. I believe that is what scientists are doing and have done, with Stonehenge (for example).
The following is a must read for ID critics as well as for those others who are also unfamiliar with the subject:
ID 101 by Mike Gene
Mike Gene opens with:
"What is Intelligent Design? If you ask a critic, he will probably tell you that ID is a disguised version of Creationism and nothing more than a Trojan Horse to get God taught in the public schools. If you ask a typical proponent of ID, he will probably tell you that ID is the best explanation for various biotic phenomena.
For me, ID begins exactly as William Dembski said it begins – with a question":
Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause?
"The first thing to note about the question is that you don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to ask it. You don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to consider it. In fact, you don’t even have to be a religious fundamentalist to answer it."
As for the people who have some "God phobia":
Guillermo Gonzalez tells AP that “Darwinism does not mandate followers to adopt atheism; just as intelligent design doesn't require a belief in God.”
Dr. Gonzalez is one of the authors of The Privileged Planet. His scientific research has led him to the design inference independent of the biological data. IOW his scientific research demonstrates the design inference extends to other scientific fields of investigation and is not limited to biology.
It is obvious that nature and life have the appearance of design. Either that appearance is illusory or because it is real, i.e. involved intelligent agency causation:
“Thus, Behe concludes on the basis of our knowledge of present cause-and-effect relationships (in accord with the standard uniformitarian method employed in the historical sciences) that the molecular machines and complex systems we observe in cells can be best explained as the result of an intelligent cause.
In brief, molecular motors appear designed because they were designed”
Pg. 72 of Darwinism, Design and Public Education
However it may be that even the appearance of design will never be enough for some people to even want to check out if that appearance is for a reason. For most anti-IDists the following applies:
Page 270 of “The Privileged Planet”
“In fact, no amount of evidence for apparent design could ever count as evidence of actual design. But if science is a search for the best explanation, based on the actual evidence from the physical world, rather than merely a search for the best materialistic or impersonal explanations of the physical world, how responsible is it to adopt a principle that makes one incapable of seeing an entire class of evidence?”
There are only three options to our existence:
1) Unintelligent, blind/ undirected processes (non-goal oriented)
2) Intelligent, directed processes (goal oriented)
3) A combination of 1 & 2 (as exemplified by Dr. Behe):
Intelligent design is a good explanation for a number of biochemical systems, but I should insert a word of caution. Intelligent design theory has to be seen in context: it does not try to explain everything. We live in a complex world where lots of different things can happen. When deciding how various rocks came to be shaped the way they are a geologist might consider a whole range of factors: rain, wind, the movement of glaciers, the activity of moss and lichens, volcanic action, nuclear explosions, asteroid impact, or the hand of a sculptor. The shape of one rock might have been determined primarily by one mechanism, the shape of another rock by another mechanism.
Similarly, evolutionary biologists have recognized that a number of factors might have affected the development of life: common descent, natural selection, migration, population size, founder effects (effects that may be due to the limited number of organisms that begin a new species), genetic drift (spread of "neutral," nonselective mutations), gene flow (the incorporation of genes into a population from a separate population), linkage (occurrence of two genes on the same chromosome), and much more. The fact that some biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important.
We do have processes and criteria in place that allow us to determine the design is real.
What processes and criteria are used to determine the design is illusory?
If, as I like to say, science is our search for the truth, i.e. the reality, to our existence via our never-ending quest for knowledge, then forcing the data to lead only to option #1 by relying on multiple atomic accidents, multiple chance collisions, multiple metaphysical universes and multiple lucky events, is not only an injustice to science, but to all residing on this planet.