Here’s a question about ID I’ve had for a long time, and I hope some ID proponents are able to help me sort it out. I’ll get right to the point before starting in with the commentary.
When an intelligent agent demonstrates the ability to directly and purposefully modify the genes of a given creature, is that evidence for intelligent design?
When intelligent agents use selection and variation to produce particular desired results, is that evidence for intelligent design?
When intelligent agents use selection and variation to produce a ‘better’ antenna is that evidence for intelligent design?
More on this and some commentary below.
I suppose one immediate counter is, “It’s evidence for design, but natural design! ID’s explanations call upon the supernatural!” To this, I have two replies: First, the PS portion of this blog entry by Bill Dembski, and my own response in light of that (and other) statements by the major ID proponents, best encapsulated here.
With that in mind, let’s try another reply. “It’s evidence for design, but human design – and that makes it irrelevant for ID! Humans weren’t around billions of years ago!” I think this immediately falls to the SETI objection, for one: What particular humans are capable of doing does seem to be evidence for what intelligent agents, period, are capable of doing. Now, someone may argue that the mere fact that an intelligent agent is capable of X or Y does not constitute conclusive proof an intelligent agent was responsible for X or Y. Granted, but I’m not wondering about conclusive proof – merely evidence, even inconclusive evidence.
Now, if it’s valid to think about intelligent agents as an abstract class – I think it clearly is – then that makes me wonder if the following is A) testable, and B) an ID claim: “Intelligent agents are capable of performing acts X or Y.” Well, A certainly seems to be the sort of thing you can bolster with evidence – just get some intelligent agents to perform acts X or Y. Is it an ID claim? While ID proponents don’t talk about it enough, it really seems to be as well. After all, ID focuses heavily on what intelligent agents are uniquely capable of doing – so it seems that, at least to some degree, ID is bolstered with every accomplishment of an intelligent agent.
If this is true, though, then the fallout is considerable. “ID Research” is happening all over the place – not just in the labs and work of Dembski, Marks, Axe, Behe and company. It’s happening in Craig Venter’s lab. It’s happening over at IBM. ID becomes tied to and bolstered by, at least in part, any and all technological advances and successes.
So I ask you: Do I have this right? Or did I go wrong somewhere?