In his post about the fossil record, Barry raised an important point concerning honesty and integrity in science. Proponents of a scientific theory should consider all the evidence and weigh its overall implications, not choose evidence selectively to support a conclusion that has already been reached. This is a basic axiom in the scientific enterprise. There are mountains of evidence supporting long periods of stasis and sudden emergence in the fossil record, especially where the record is most complete. This is usually ignored. Instead, emphasis is placed on putative, rare (especially in comparison to the entire known record) “transitionals,” with no means of establishing ancestor/descendent relationships except through the use of imagination.
David Berlinski refers to the fossil record as “completely mystifying.” The same could be said of the existence of life’s complexity, functional integration and information content, at least in the absence of design.
An honest approach by proponents of Darwinian evolutionary theory would be to simply say: “The Darwinian mechanism is the best naturalistic, materialistic explanation we have been able to come up with. Overall, the fossil record remains mystifying in Darwinian terms, and it must be admitted that there is no conclusive evidence that random mutation and natural selection have the creative power to account for all of the characteristics of living systems. However, until a better naturalistic explanation comes along, we have chosen to stick with the current Darwinian paradigm.” Instead, we are consistently assured that the matter is settled, that only the details remain to be filled in, and that all objections are motivated by religious conviction.
On the other hand, I would argue that proponents of intelligent design theory have met the above-mentioned standard of scientific integrity. They simply assert: “Based on the evidence, we believe that an inference to design is scientifically justified, but we can draw no conclusions from that evidence as to how, why, where, or when design was implemented. The design inference is open to refutation through the demonstration of detailed materialistic mechanisms that can account for it.”