E. O. Wilson on ID
|November 26, 2007||Posted by William Dembski under Intelligent Design|
Here’s what E. O. Wilson writes in THE NEW SCIENTIST:
. . . Many who accept the fact of evolution cannot, however, on religious grounds, accept the operation of blind chance and the absence of divine purpose implicit in natural selection. They support the alternative explanation of intelligent design. The reasoning they offer is not based on evidence but on the lack of it. The formulation of intelligent design is a default argument advanced in support of a non sequitur. It is in essence the following: there are some phenomena that have not yet been explained and that (most importantly) the critics personally cannot imagine being explained; therefore there must be a supernatural designer at work. The designer is seldom specified, but in the canon of intelligent design it is most certainly not Satan and his angels, nor any god or gods conspicuously different from those accepted in the believer’s faith.
Flipping the scientific argument upside down, the intelligent designers join the strict creationists (who insist that no evolution ever occurred) by arguing that scientists resist the supernatural theory because it is counter to their own personal secular beliefs. This may have a kernel of truth; everybody suffers from some amount of bias. But in this case bias is easily overcome. The critics forget how the reward system in science works. Any researcher who can prove the existence of intelligent design within the accepted framework of science will make history and achieve eternal fame. They will prove at last that science and religious dogma are compatible. Even a combined Nobel prize and Templeton prize (the latter designed to encourage the search for just such harmony) would fall short as proper recognition. Every scientist would like to accomplish such a epoch-making advance. But no one has even come close, because unfortunately there is no evidence, no theory and no criteria for proof that even marginally might pass for science. . . .
(1) ID does not argue from “Shucks, I can’t imagine how material mechanisms could have brought about a biological structure” to “Gee, therefore God must have done it.” This is a strawman. Here is the argument ID proponents actually make:
- Premise 1: Certain biological systems have some diagnostic feature, be it IC (irreducible complexity) or SC (specified complexity) or OC (organized complexity) etc.
- Premise 2: Materialistic explanations have been spectacularly unsuccessful in explaining such systems — we have no positive evidence for thinking that material mechanisms can generate them.
- Premise 3: Intelligent agency is known to have the causal power to produce systems that display IC/SC/OC.
- Conclusion: Therefore, biological systems that exhibit IC/SC/OC are likely to be designed.
(2) Wilson’s claim that proving “the existence of intelligent design within the accepted framework of science will make history and achieve eternal fame” is disingenuous. The accepted framework of science precludes ID from the start. Wilson and his materialistic colleagues have stacked the deck so that no evidence could ever support it.