Faded Glory finally gets it! He writes that he agrees that the ID inference is not illogical if it “applies to life we can actually investigate.” [Is it just me or can anyone else hear the melodious strains of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus playing in the background?] Who says these internet debates never make progress?
Not unexpectedly, however, there is a fly in the proverbial ointment. FG notes that ID is “agnostic” regarding causes that cannot be investigated, and of this he writes, “I think it is a rather unexpected conclusion but I have no quarrel with it.”
This is the most astonishing statement I have heard in a long time.
Why is this unexpected? ID proponents have been saying all along that ID [qua ID] does not speculate beyond the data. It does not ask, “What is the ultimate source of design?” It asks only “Is this particular thing designed?” As those who have been following this debate know, we have been saying this repeatedly, over and over, constantly, time after time, repetitively, ad nauseam, I think you get the picture.
How is it possible that this could surprise anyone? I can only speculate, but I think it probably has something to do with the fact that many people assume that ID proponents are inveterate liars when they say they are not trying to prove the existence of God. Interestingly, this charge comes from both sides of the theological divide. ID is neither an apologetic nor creationism. Yet theistic Darwinists deride ID as a failed apologetic (as johnnyb points out here), and atheists say ID is “creationism in a cheap tuxedo” (as Nick Matzke said here).
There is a common assumption among the theistic Darwinists and the atheists – that ID proponents are being disingenuous when they say that ID confines itself only to inferences from the observable data and refuses to speculate about what lies beyond the data. Now it is certainly true that some people will take ID’s conclusions and leap from there to the existence of God, just as it is true that some people will take Darwinism’s conclusions and leap from there to the non-existence of God. Everyone should agree, however, that it is not a valid scientific criticism of Darwinism to say that it might lead to more atheism. Therefore, everyone should agree that it is not a valid scientific criticism of ID to say that it might lead to more theism.
One might be excused for assuming that arch-atheist scientists like Richard Dawkins take their atheism first and their science second. This assumption might lead one to refuse to take Dawkins’ scientific arguments at face value and instead try to discredit his conclusions on the basis of his atheistic motivations rather than because the conclusions fail to account for the data. And that would be wrong. Simple charity demands that we assume our opponents are acting in good faith, and this requires us to deal with their arguments at face value. I am certain this is how they would want to be treated, and I hope that someday they will apply the golden rule and extend the same charity to us, instead of simply assuming we are liars and attacking us on that basis alone.