Instead of examining the evidence for and against rival theories, I shall adopt a more armchair approach. My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories – p. 287, Blind Watchmaker
It seems to me that once a person claims that a theory is in no need of evidence, that theory is no longer scientific but must necessarily be metaphysical. This is how Karl Popper would have explained Dawkins’ proposal. The distinguishing characteristic of a scientific theory is its capability of being tested and of course the converse is true for a metaphysical theory—it cannot be tested.
Though metaphysical theories cannot be tested they remain subject to criticism. Moreover, when criticized some metaphysical theories fare better than others, in many cases much better.
If we return to a cosmological disputation of the pre Socratics, some argued that the earth must be drum shaped because if one ascended a hill, it was possible to survey a large circular area that appeared to be flat. Anaximander or Thales (it’s uncertain which) argued for a spherical earth based purely on abstract and speculative reasoning. Both theories were metaphysical yet an abstract critique trumped observation in this case.
So if we regard both Darwinism and Intelligent Design as purely metaphysical theories, we might analyze them in this way:
Darwinism claims that the abrupt and significant increases in information which characterize the history of life can result from unguided, random processes taking place on the lowest level of living things: the chemical level of the genes. There is no analogue to such a transformation in any process which has ever been observed in real time. Furthermore, the laws of probability argue strongly against it.
Intelligent Design claims these abrupt increases in information are caused by the actions of an intelligent agent. There are countless instances of intelligent agents increasing information. It is a fact of everyday life and easily observed.
Thus, even if no evidence can support either claim because both are metaphysical, then logic alone would argue in favor of ID theory.
However, the fact is that innumerable observations cast serious doubt on the claims of Darwinism. It is furthermore interesting that virtually all of these negative observations have been made by evolution supporters (who then attempt to explain them away). Therefore, it seems the “reasonable man” ought to follow David Berlinski’s lead and regard evolution as nothing more than a highly speculative metaphysical theory which has failed to deliver on its promises and can be discarded as having any significant relevance to the history of life on earth.
Note: Karl Popper did say that. He allowed Darwin’s thugs to force him into a humiliating retraction, but toward the end of his life summoned up the courage to tell John Horgan what he really thought. The penalty that survived long after his death is that few came to hear about it.
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