Saturday, 13 November 2010

C4ID’s Introduction to Intelligent Design: Part 3

The Centre for Intelligent Design website features a set of brief (sometimes very brief) pdf documents which collectively form an Introduction to Intelligent Design, credited as written by Dr Alastair Noble, C4ID Director. This pamphlet sets out C4ID’s manifesto for ID. Often these documents are written in a way that could be seen as persuasive to the uninformed. In general, the arguments used are those of ‘common sense versus rational investigation’, and the hoary old ‘argument from ignorance/incredulity’.
This part is again not credited to a particular author (presumably written by Noble), and is very brief. It’s composed of what I might describe in more colloquial terminology ‘twaddle’.
Intelligent Design is an example of the science of design detection – how to identify patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, such as anthropology, crypto-analysis and the forensic sciences, which seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). The inference that biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested and evaluated in the same way that scientists test for design in other sciences.
There’s a fundamental problem with this paragraph. The use of ‘design detection’ (whatever that is) to investigate anthropological artefacts, crack codes, and investigate crimes is obvious: the subjects are known a priori to be the results of human intervention, whether intentional or not – detection of design really revolves around demonstrating intent. One should also note that whatever criteria SETI uses to detect signs of extraterrestrial intelligence must be quite stringent: no evidence of such intelligence has thus far been found.
The rest of Part 3 sets out what arguments are to come in future parts.
  • The so-called ‘fine tuning’ of physical constants
  • Specified complexity’ – presumably identical or similar to Behe’s ‘Irreducible complexity’, so effectively rebutted by scientific argument and observation. The usual cases of the eye, blood clotting and the ear are listed.
  • Information. Apparently the most compelling argument is that of genetic information. See my earlier post (Biological information does not require a ‘designer’) on this subject.
All three arguments have been comprehensively dismissed, as we’ll see in later articles in this blog.
Robert Saunders, BSc (Hons), PhD

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