Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Ken Miller and I on the BBC


Ken Miller and I had a brief five minute radio debate on the BBC on Friday, December 16th. He made two point which I could not address because the BBC host did not give me the opportunity, but which I wish to address briefly now: (1) The main weakness of evolution is that it is science (yes, Miller actually did say this and went on so long about it that the BBC host could not give me my closing comment as he had intended to) and (2) ID’s main fault is that it proceeds by negative argumentation.

Point (1): The problem is not that evolution is science and therefore rife with open problems. The problem is that it never solved the problem which it set itself, namely the increasing complexification of life over the course of natural history. To be sure, evolutionists claim to have solved this problem by uncovering natural selection and other material mechanisms. But evolutionists have never been able to take these mechanisms and with them provide detailed, testable accounts of how the origination of complex biological systems required for macroevolution could have occurred. Plenty of handwaving, yes; details that would convince and evolution skeptic, no.

Point (2): Negative argumentation for one of two mutually exclusive and exhaustive positions is always positive argumentation for the other (the two positions here are intelligent design and unintelligent evolution, i.e., evolution that proceeds without intelligent input). Yes, much of ID argumentation is showing the limits to evolvability of various biological systems given certain material mechanisms. But the charge of negative argumentation applies equally to evolutionary theory: evolution argues negatively against ID. Just as ID hasn’t ruled out all conceivable material mechanisms, evolution has not ruled out all conceivable actions by intelligent agents in forming biological complexity. ID has this advantage, however. We do know that intelligent agents can bring about the types of functional systems we see in biology; we have no evidence that unintelligent evolution can do the same.