Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where is the designer behind intelligent design?

In response to my last post, some people I respect suggested that intelligent design accepts the scientific method and cannot be dismissed as unscientific. This caused me to look for more information on the subject which led me to the Intelligent Design Network. I spent a fair amount of time there but saw nothing that changed my opinion that intelligent design is inherently unscientific. True, the site is filled with the language of science, not unlike the ACLU's site being filled with the language of free speech. But the argument for intelligent design itself appears to boil down to the notion that life is so complicated that it could not have emerged unless there was an intelligence guiding its design. The parts of the site that I read (admittedly only a small portion of the entire contents of the site) involved no science beyond this simple observation. This is not, to my way of thinking, a scientific theory because it is not testable by the scientific method. One cannot propose a test for the cause of the complexity of life in the same way that one can test for the relationship between time and speed or the existence of black holes. There is, of course, no question that life is extraordinarily complicated and the chances of life arising by chance are exceedingly slim. But one could logically argue that the chances that an intelligence capable of creating life exists are even more remote. Intelligent design simply replaces one unlikely event with another, far more unlikely, event. How did such an intelligence come to exist? Where did it come from and, perhaps more importantly, where did it go? To my surprise, I did not find any effort by the ID supporters to detect the intelligence, itself. The closest was the comment that when we see the Stonehenge we assume it was intelligently designed even though we do not see the designers. But this is an odd analogy since we fully understand that the designers of Stonehenge are human and therefore long since dead. What do we understand about the intelligence behind intelligent design? It seems to me that if there was an intelligence guiding creation there are only four possibilities: (1) the intellignce has gone elsewhere, and is no longer here to be detected; (2) the intelligence has died, and is no longer here to be detected; (3) the intelligence is still present, but cannot be detected; or (4) the intelligence is still present and can be detected. If the intelligence is no longer here or cannot be detected there is no practical reason for caring whether life started by design or chance. That life was created by an intelligence is only important if the intelligence still exists and can be detected. So where is the intelligent designer now? If the supports of intelligent design were serious about an intelligent designer (and about science) shouldn't they be looking for proof of such a designer? All of this leaves me with many questions for Bookworm's readers. What is the science (as opposed to the mere observation of complexity) behind ID? Why is the existence of an intelligent designer more statistically likely than the existence of life arising by chance? Where did the intelligence come from? Where did it go? Can we devise a scientific test to detect the intelligence now? What would such a test look like? I look forward to your comments.