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“Is Intelligent Design Viable?” William Lane Craig vs. Francisco Ayala

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Late last year, the eminent Christian philosopher and proponent of intelligent design, William Lane Craig, crossed swords in debate with the avid apologist for Darwinian evolution, Francisco Ayala, of the Biologos Foundation. The debate was chaired by philosopher of physics Bradley Monton of the University of Colorado, an ID sympathizer, though a convinced atheist himself. Monton is the author of the book, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design. A fascinating ID the Future interview with Professor Monton can be downloaded here.

Following Dr. Ayala’s opening statement, Dr. Craig commenced his presentation by carefully setting out the definition of ID as the study of legitimate design inferences. Craig stipulated that, were Ayala to attempt to refute the inference to design with respect to biological systems, he would need to do one of two things. Either Ayala would need to directly challenge the legitimacy of the explanatory filter (presumably by demonstrating that it incorporates false positives) or demonstrate that the systems featured in biology do not meet the criteria of the explanatory filter. Setting aside the discussions pertaining to the tenability of universal common ancestry, Craig set about to argue that Ayala’s attempts to disqualify ID on scientific grounds were doomed because he had failed to demonstrate, in his published work, that the dual forces of random mutation and natural selection, are causally sufficient to account for macroevolution. He also argued that Ayala’s more numerous attempts to disqualify ID on theological grounds are completely irrelevant to the process of drawing a design inference from biological phenomena, because none of the arguments for ID aspire to show that the designer possesses the qualities of omnibenevolence or omnipotence. After all, Craig argued, a design inference is still warranted with respect to a medieval torture rack, regardless of the malevolent purposes of the system’s design. Questions pertaining to the nature of the designer are for natural theology, not for the scientific research program of ID. This is what distinguishes the modern concept of ID from the Watchmaker argument of William Paley’s Natural Theology. Read More>>>

More to the point of this post, "This approach had a taint of irony, as the theologian attempted to focus the debate on science, while the scientist attempted to focus the debate on theology." On cannot understand why so little evidence can be so satisfying to proponents of unguided evolution and opponents of ID, until one realizes that their argument is theological. If the malaria parasite cannot evolve without intelligent design, then the malaria parasite must have been designed, and that means that there is a designer that is either incompetent or malevolent or both. Against such a distasteful conclusion, any "just-so" story that looks like it must hold water will be accepted. The ID-evolution conflict is in fact science versus religion, in that order. Cornelius Hunter is right. Paul Giem
If Luskin is ever reading here, buddy, can you PLEASE fix the levels on your podcast. Is there a reason why your voice is always 3 times louder than the guest? I tend not to listen to any of your podcasts, because I have to sit with my fingers on the volume control and keep changing ti depending on who's talking. Thanks. Gods iPod
"Francisco Ayala, of the Biologos Foundation" Ayala is hardly of the Biologos Foundation. He occasionally writes comments or posts, that I for one do not find persuasive in the least. Ayala is not a team member or a board member. Dave W gingoro

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