All that follows is RD Miksa’s:
Dear Kantian Naturalist:
“My position, rather, is that at present, design theorists have not done the hard work of implementing the deductive and inductive stages of inquiry that would lend empirical warrant to the hypothesis. And that means that design theory does not yet deserve serious consideration as an alternative to other explanations of biological phenomena.”
Consider, then, the following:
Let’s start with the abductive leap that you accept:
“The abductive leap would be: ‘It is surprising that there is complex, specified information in living things, but if living things were brought about by an intelligent agent, then the presence of complex, specified information in living things would be a matter of course.’ and that’s perfectly right, as far it goes.”
Now you say:
“But it does not go very far, because design theory stops there. It does not go on the next stage of inquiry, which would be test the abductive leap. To do that, one would have to deduce observable consequences from the hypothesis that would not follow from the converse, and then conduct the lab or field work to see if the observables are actually, in fact, observed.”
But this is just incorrect. Why? Because if we admit the abductive “leap” that complex specified information is best explained as the product of ID, and that there is CSI in living things, then the deductive and inductive aspects follow naturally.
First, we can deduce that the designing intelligence would have had to be intelligent as well as possess a knowledge of biology that rivaled if not surpassed our own. Next, the intelligent agent would have to have had synthetic engineering skills. Furthermore, depending on the time when the organism in question first existed, we could deduce the rough time-frame when the design of the organism occurred. And a number of other deductions could be made.
Second, we could form general inductive “laws” based on ID that would be both predictive and could be easily tested empirically and confirmed via observation. For example, we could establish a “law” that “no CSI rich biological organism could come about via unintelligent means.” This would also be a prediction. Next, another prediction: an intelligence, such as us, could create biological organisms with CSI in them. And another prediction: if ID occurred, then it is likely that the foundation of life was designed rather than coming about by natural means. (And of course, many more predictions could be made).
Third, a research program could be completed to search as many biological organisms as possible in order to determine which ones exhibited CSI. Then, once this list was completed, the predictions could be tested and observations made. If ID came out successful, then this would explain the data better.
So, again, all the criteria of a good scientific theory can be met by ID.
Note, furthermore, that ID might be false—meaning that perhaps the abductive leap that there is CSI in living things is incorrect—and yet ID could still be a scientific theory that meets all the criteria required of science. Thus, ID does not need to better explain or account for the data before it can be considered scientific, because even if ID is false—for the sake of argument—it could still have shown itself capable of doing all the things a good scientific theory does.
A clear differentiation needs to be made between a theory that is scientific in terms of its ability to meet all the requirements necessary to be considered a science, and a scientific theory that is currently the one that best explains the data. Newton’s theory, for example, is clearly a scientific theory, and yet it is not the best one anymore. Just because it is no longer accepted does not suddenly mean that it is no longer scientific.