A Reason to Doubt the IDiots].
Luskin's latest posting on Evolution News & Views (sic) is: How Do We Know Intelligent Design Is a Scientific "Theory"?. Here's the main argument ...
ID is a theory of design detection, and it proposes intelligent agency as a mechanism causing biological change. ID allows us to explain how aspects of observed biological complexity, and other natural complexity, arose. And it uses the scientific method to make its claims.Here's the (first) problem. Ever since Darwin we've had a naturalistic explanation for the appearance of design. We know there are examples of irreducible complexity that evolved without the need for an intelligent designer (the citric acid cycle is my favorite).
The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion. ID begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be tested for by reverse-engineering biological structures through genetic knockout experiments to determine if they require all of their parts to function. When scientists experimentally uncover irreducible complexity in a biological structure, they conclude that it was designed.
Thus, it is not sufficient to show that something is irreducibly complex in order to conclude that God made it. You must also show that the irreducibly complex structure could not possibly have arisen without the need for God. That's why intelligent design creationists spend so much time trying to discredit evolution as a possible explanation. As a matter of fact, something like 99.9% of the activities of the IDiots are devoted to attacks on evolution and not to positive evidence for the existence of an intelligent designer.
The fatal flaw in Luskin's description is that he set up a false dichotomy. He says that proof of irreducible complexity is proof that
Real scientific theories are models of how things work. They "explain" observations such as the origin of the citric acid cycle, the presence of junk DNA in our genome, the fossil record, and phylogenetic trees. Intelligent Design Creationism has no explanatory power. It doesn't even explain examples of irreducible complexity unless you think that "God did it" counts as a scientific explanation.
Casey Luskin disagrees, of course.
ID is not just an explanation of "some aspect of the natural world": in fact it explains many aspects of the natural world. If we think in terms if just broad categories, ID proposes that intelligent agency is the best explanation for historical events like:
* the origin of the fine-tuning of the cosmos for advanced life.
* the origin of extremely high levels of complex and specified information in DNA.
* the origin of integrated systems required for animal body plans.
* the origin of many irreducibly complex systems found in living organisms.
So ID satisfies this element: It is an explanation of many aspects of the natural world, especially many aspects of biological complexity.
There's a sense in which Luskin is correct. It's true that if you believe in a creator God then his/her/its actions do "explain" some things like the origin of the universe. Just about anything can be explained by "
This is not what we mean when we insist that a scientific theory have explanatory power. Evolutionary theory explains many things because it relies on mechanisms that obey the laws of physics and chemistry. It is firmly grounded in population genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, paleontology, comparative anatomy, end dozens of other disciplines. Evolutionary explanations do not require any imaginary fairies that intervene to circumvent the standard laws of physics and chemistry.
Intelligent Design Creationism not only requires those fairies, it insists that they don't need to be identified. It also insists that you don't need to demonstrate the existence of the fairies in order for your explanation to be "science."
In spite of all these flaws, Casey Luskin thinks Intelligent Design Creationism is really good science.
ID is supported by a vast body of evidence ranging from physics and cosmology to biochemistry to animal biology to systems biology to epigenetics and paleontology. ID more than exceeds the NAS's definitions of "theory."Think about the implications. If Luskin is correct then the "vast body of evidence" is nothing less than scientific proof of the existence of God. That's a pretty extraordinary claim.
A lot of what the IDiots do really is science in some sense or another. I've just about finishing critiquing The Myth of Junk DNA and the case being made by Jonathan Wells is "science" by any definition. It's an attempt to refute the notion of junk DNA. There are many real scientists who use the same "evidence" and the same sorts of arguments that Wells uses. It's science but it's very bad science.
That's the real problem with Intelligent Design Creationism. It's not that all of IDC is outside the boundaries of science—I don't think there are any boundaries—it's that most of what they do is bad science. That's why they can't claim that they are being scientific.