Evolutionists are just as fond of quote-mining as their ID counterparts. A quote of Paul Nelson’s has lately been making the rounds, appearing even in the New York Times. At a meeting of Biola University last year, Nelson remarked, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have such a theory right now, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a problemÃ¢â‚¬Â
Evolutionists are now taking this as a grand admission that ID is scientifically deficient. Nelson’s own take on this line by evolutionists can be found at IDthefuture. My own take is that NelsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement reflects a profound malaise within the scientific community about the absence of a general theory of biological form and design — period. Scientific theories vary in their scope and power. As a theory of design detection and technological evolution, intelligent design is now well in hand. But as a general theory of biological form, ID has a long way to go.
Intelligent design, however, is hardly alone in this regard. Consider the following admissions about the lack of a general theory of biological form by mainstream biologists and scientists:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The strange thing about the theory of evolution is that everyone thinks he understands it. But we do not.Ã¢â‚¬Â –Stuart Kauffman, 2003
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Biology still lacks a theory of organization…. The need for a conceptual framework for the study of organization lies at the heart of unsolved problems in both ontogeny and phylogeny.Ã¢â‚¬Â –Mary West-Eberhard, 2003
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We do not claim that the fundamental laws of physics (and thus of chemistry) do not hold in biology; they, of course, do. But we do claim that their conceptual frame is too narrow. Rather we have to find new concepts that transcend the purely microscopic descriptions of systems.Ã¢â‚¬Â –Kelso & Haken, 1995
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We do not even know what biology is about, in the same sense that we know what mechanics is about, or what optics is about, or what thermodynamics is about. We thus do not know the scope of the domain of biology, for it has as yet no objectively definable bounds. In place of these, we have only a tacit consensus.Ã¢â‚¬Â –Robert Rosen, 1991
Ã¢â‚¬Å“S’il est vrai que le darwinisme est le seul lieu thÃƒÂ©orique de la biologie, c’est qu’en effect il est le seul ÃƒÂ introduire un virtuel, l’ensemble des ÃƒÂ©volutions possibles d’une espÃƒÂ¨ce en un temps et en lieu donnÃƒÂ©s. Mais ce virtuel est incontrÃƒÂ´lÃƒÂ©, on ne peut rien en dire.Ã¢â‚¬Â
[Ã¢â‚¬Å“If itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true that Darwinism alone constitutes the theoretical portion of biology, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s is because it alone introduces a virtual reality, namely, the collection of all the possible evolutions of a species in a given time and place. But this virtual reality is uncontrolled; one can say nothing about it.Ã¢â‚¬Â] — RenÃƒÂ© Thom, 1990
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The delusion of the finished [evolutionary] synthesis places restrictions on freedom of thought of which its believers are unaware. Selectionists [i.e., those who think that natural selection is the principal mechanism in evolution] point to the internal debates as evidence of free discussion, but the freedom is bounded by the dead hand of Darwin.Ã¢â‚¬Â
–Robert Reid, 1985
The absence of a full-fledged theory of biological form holds quite generally and is not confined to ID.