The Discovery Institute Responds

The Discovery Institute has responded to a post of mine. In it, I accused the typical proponents of Intelligent Design of dishonesty when they assert that one cannot find out about the designer by studying the design. Read the response: You be the judge.

In his response to my post, Casey Luskin calls the question of the designer’s identity a “strictly theological question”. Don’t miss the significance of that: theological. The designer is God, theos being the Greek word for God. Earlier in the piece he claims that the identity of the designer could be anyone (even the fictional character of Yoda from Star Wars – now how would that be a serious option? – or Buddha – showing his ignorance of Buddhism). But his slip shows the truth. The designer is God, because that is the only sense in which it is possible for the designer’s identity to be a theological question.

I won’t quibble over whether the reasons why ID doesn’t identify the designer are ‘principled’. At the very least, the principle in question is not honesty. Can anyone really claim I’m wrong about this, when the discrepancy between their official position and the things they let slip are so obvious?

My main point in the earlier post that is referred to was simply this: In the sciences, when effects are observed, causes are sought. Evidence of water flow over the course of long periods of time eroding rock and carrying sediment elsewhere. Evidence of human creation. Evidence of fire. When an effect is observed, a scenario that can explain the cause is the natural thing for scientists to formulate.

Why doesn’t Intelligent Design do that? I think it is because that line of reasoning doesn’t lead where they want it to lead. They want people to follow the argument to a particular point, but no further. Just that far raises questions to which particular sorts of religious answers can then be offered. But if you follow the evidence trail further, you see all the things that led Darwin to formulate his theory in the first place – evidence that the things that seem designed also seem cobbled together from already-existing forms, for instance. I still say it is a ploy, an attempt to use scientific-sounding language for religious ends. If one listens to data from the sciences, one should do so in a comprehensive way, not merely in a limited fashion to piece together an apologetic argument. The sort of argument they end up with, cobbled together from misused scientific language and hidden theological assumptions, ends up looking about as intelligently designed as the biological organisms scientsts study.
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  • Anonymous

    Your banning at Dimski’s Uncommon Descent has made you a star at AtBC. Come join us;act=ST;f=14;t=1274;st=21060

  • Drew Tatusko

    The more one reads the rhetoric surrounding ID and especially the case of the DI and the young earth enthusiasts, the more it is clear that this is mostly a back door attempt to re-Christianize secularized knowledge regimes and nothing more.What is troubling is that the confusion of theology with science perpetuates an already damaged base among American students in terms of science and mathematics proficiencies that should not be distracted with theological issues.In short the entire issue is creating bad theologians and bad scientists since it does not allow science to be science and theology to be theology. It is true that theology was once the mother of all sciences, but that was in an age when God was needed to explain the unexplainable processes of nature.We should need God to work on sin and redemption and not on the efficacy of carbon dating.

  • John Pieret

    It is particualrly amusing that they keep appealing to the possibility that the “designer” is a natural being (the Raelians are apparently quite respectable ID proponents in Luskin’s eyes). Doubtless it is to avoid the charge that they are trying to scientifically prove the existence of God. But then, why do they rule a priori that the nature and identity of the designer is a “theological question”? If the designers are Rael’s aliens then, at the very least, they are potentially amenable to scientific investigation. These people have too many sides to their mouths.

  • The Factician

    Not to mention, if the designer *isn’t* God, then we run into the question: “Who designed the Designers?”.It’s just turtles, all the way down…

  • George

    Don’t we run into that question anyway? Of course they can answer “God was always there”, but then we can respond “well, maybe the universe was always there”, and it all goes downhill from there.I’m sorry to say that I disagree with the good professor here, though. While you’re quite right that most of the ID bigwigs are lying through their teeth, that they have every intention of pulling a bait-and-switch to bring in God once ID is firmly established in the classrooms (and anyone who doubts this needs to read the ‘Wedge Document’), ID is not logically required to make any a priori statements about the designer itself. If it really wanted to be science, it would have to make some testable hypotheses about specific aspects of the designer’s nature and how those would translate to things we should discover in future about the design (and not facile things we really already know like ‘life should be found to be very complex’). More on this later though, I’ve got to run.

  • Juno Walker

    Yeah, they responded to my post as well, which was in response to one of theirs .I haven’t had time to put up a new post in response yet.Best,Juno

  • Anonymous

    John Pieret said that the Raelians must be quite respectible IDers in Luskins eyes. John, I’m sorry, but you’re making the mistake of assuming the Discoveryless Institute is rational about anything. The Raelians tried to join up with the DI a few years back and were resoundingly rejected. Why? Who can say! The only group on the planet that actually does believe in an intelligent designer that isn’t God and they don’t qualify as ID according to the fine idiots at Discoveryless.It can’t be the quality of their scholarship. If that was an issue, the DI would have no-one writing at all.- Michael Suttkus, II, who wandered over from Orac’s page.