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What is Intelligent Design?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

I’ve been reading Donald Prothero’s book Evolution, which is a book meant to show how powerful the evidence for evolution is.  Prothero, a professor of geology, certainly seems to know a lot about fossils, but he seems to know remarkably little about intelligent design (ID), a theory he maligns early in his book.

Here is Prothero’s take on ID: “Reading the ID creationists closely, you find that they don’t offer any new scientific ideas or a true alternative theory of life competing with evolution.  All they argue is that some parts of nature seem too complex for them to imagine an evolutionary explanation.”

Really?  Is that what ID is?

Perhaps a better way to answer this question would be to ask ID proponents themselves to define ID, since they are the ones proposing the theory.  I know it sounds crazy and Prothero certainly doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but let’s try any way.

According to the website of a leading ID organization, the Discovery Institute, below is a definition of ID.  I will copy the entire definition here for your convenience, although you can go to the site yourself and read it there.

Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.

This definition is quite different from Prothero’s definition because it claims that ID is a positive scientific program that is studying the informational properties of certain features of the natural world.  To say that ID is merely arguing that “some parts of nature are too complex to imagine an evolutionary explanation” is a gross distortion.  The first thing one should do when debating an idea is to correctly define that idea.  Let’s hope other writers who participate in this debate take a little more care than Prothero.


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Comments

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    I think that Prothero has captured the theory of intelligent design perfectly. It is not the definition that matters. What matters is how ID opponents actually go about trying to show that something must have the product of design rather than the action of undirected natural processes. Every argument I have seen boils down to “I don’t see how this could have occurred naturally.”

  • Bill Pratt

    Vinny,
    With all due respect, you clearly have not been reading the literature produced by ID proponents. I have been following this movement for several years and I can personally testify that if that was all they had come up with, I would have given up on it a long time ago. I would pick up a copy of Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box or William Dembski’s Intelligent Design for starters. There are many dozens of other books that could help to better understand ID as well, but those are probably the first two I read that introduced the ideas to me.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Bill,

    I’m sure that I haven’t read as much literature from the ID crowd as you have, but I have read the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District as well as many of the transcripts including Behe’s testimony, where a leading proponent of ID was compelled to answer questions in a controlled setting. Unfortunately, Dembski withdrew as an expert before he could be cross-examined on the stand. I think the judge’s conclusion that ID is just repackaged creationism was fully supported by the record.

  • Lee Bowman

    Greetings. DI’s slightly revised definition of ID is now prefaced by the declaration that it consists of “a scientific research program … [which] seeks evidence of design in nature.” True enough, since it is not a hard theory, due to the forensic nature of its investigation, and variations in interpretation of the data (evidence(s)).

    It concludes with its a priori definition, “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    Interesting that Mark Farmer in a recent post at Panda’s Thumb calls this a form of vacillating on a prior definition which only stated the latter. He further jumps on the phrasing of “undirected process” claiming it contradicts a former use of the term “chance-based”, another argumentum ad nauseum, or splitting hairs over semantics. 235 comments ensue.
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2010/07/more-di-word-ga.html

    Although the universe is mentioned, I feel that the valid pursuit of ID need investigate biologic forms only, since that is where the more cohesive and verifiable evidence of ‘interventionary’ input to the phylogenetic progressions reside.

    Dragging in the cosmos is more agenda based, since that more overreaching definition could be ruled more a theological substantiation, rather than a design hypothesis based on more recent and more discernable data. A Supreme God could have created both, but where is the scientific evidence of that?

    So as a design theorist, and one who bases the design premise on extant evidences, I see bio forms as 1) Irreducibly complex (not evolvable stepwise), 2) consisting of synergistic systems that would have had to ‘evolve’ together to function, 3) with aesthetic and symmetrical features that would not fit the ‘selected due to increased fitness’ paradigm, 4) the fact that most mutations are deleterious and reduce information content, and 5) are all (the observable ones) merely variants in color, organ size, etc, and functionally ‘adaptive’ to a changing environment, rather than eliciting new, novel features.

    In short, evolution as observed, is more logically defined as an adaptive mechanism only, and likely a ‘designed in’ process to aid in species survival. Extending it to radical speciation (reptile to bird, fish to land mammal, land mammal to cetacean species) is merely an extrapolation, and one with no empirical evidence to support it.

  • Lee Bowman

    Hi Vinny,
    I believe that Dembski never agreed to testify nor was present at the trial, and that he and others that might have testified for the defense declined based on a disagreement with the school board’s actions.

    I followed the trial extensively, and while agreeing with most of what the Plaintiff’s claimed to be true regarding the board’s actions, motives and intent, I take exception to the second part of Jones’ ruling, that ID is Creationism in disguise, is agenda based, and is not science.

    If you’d like, we can go over some specifics, and I’ll seriously consider any points brought up to validate that ruling (second part).

    Regards,
    The new kid on the block ;-)

  • Bill Pratt

    Vinny,
    Reading Kitzmiller is hardly the same as reading the primary writings of ID proponents. The notion that you can learn deeply about a scientific theory in a courtroom is troubling, to say the least. Please read the primary literature.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Bill,

    The primary literature for scientific theories is normally peer reviewed scientific journals.

    Lee,

    You are welcome to take all the exception you like, however, I found the judge’s conclusions more than sufficiently supported by the record.

    What are your grounds for asserting that Dembski never agreed to testify? Why did he submit a report as an expert for the defense?

  • flippertie

    “Reading Kitzmiller is hardly the same as reading the primary writings of ID proponents. The notion that you can learn deeply about a scientific theory in a courtroom is troubling, to say the least. Please read the primary literature.”

    And there you go to the heart of the problem – there are no published primary sources for ID research.

    You have Behe’s pop-science books (eg. Darwin’s black box) pushing his idea of Irreducible Complexity. This has been refuted as a proof of a designer – you can’t prove a negative – so you can’t prove that any particular item *could never* have evolved. all you can say is “as yet we don’t know how X could have evolved’.

    Then you have Dembski’s ‘specified complexity’ – which tries to claim that it is possible to examine complex patterns and detect whether they were designed or not. This has also been comprehensively discredited: A study by Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit states that “Dembski’s work is riddled with inconsistencies, equivocation, flawed use of mathematics, poor scholarship, and misrepresentation of others’ results”

    A search of google scholar for Shallit or Dembski the search results show that Shalit is very well published in peer-reviewed math journals, as opposed to Dembski. Dembske responded to the study with a series of attacks on Shallit – but has not published any refutation of them.

    If there is any other published scholarly ‘primary literature’ promoting ID please post a link to it. I’ve been unable to find any.

  • Brap Gronk

    “Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence.”

    So, an intelligent agent (humans) has been able to mimic nature, therefore nature must have been designed by an intelligent agent (God)?

  • Bill Pratt

    Flippertie,
    Have you read Behe and Dembski for yourself or have you just read the people who claim they’re wrong?

    By the way, this argument that ID proponents don’t publish scholarly work is vapid. Go to this link where there is a list of the very works that you claim you can’t find.

  • Lee Bowman

    “What are your grounds for asserting that Dembski never agreed to testify? Why did he submit a report as an expert for the defense?”

    He did consider testifying, and went as far as submitting the required ‘expert witness’ and ‘rebuttal’ reports, but withdrew prior to submitting the required ‘deposition’ statement which would complete the process of becoming a witness.

    So yes, he did agree to testify initially, but with stipulations that weren’t met (his own attorney present, the money perhaps). In short, he reconsidered. It’s also possible that he foresaw the case as a loser, and withdrew for that reason.

    Dembski supported the board’s textbook statements to a degree, and addressed them in his report, as do I (to a degree). And that degree is to allow ID (teleology) is as a tentative operative (subject to verification and/or falsification), rather than to dictatorially exclude it from consideration within the classroom. This, I feel, is the seminal issue at hand, rather than to forcibly impose religious views upon students, or to imbue science with its precepts.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Since when does an expert need his own attorney at a deposition? Shouldn’t Dembski be willing to defend the validity of intelligent design regardless of who the plaintiffs and defendants are?

  • Bill Pratt

    Vinny,
    Whether Dembski wants an attorney at a deposition has absolutely nothing to do with the soundness of ID theory. Surely you can see this. Dembski could be the most vile person to have ever walked the earth and his arguments could still be true. It’s his arguments that you must deal with. I understand that you may not want to take the time to read his arguments because other authority figures whom you trust have told you not to bother. That’s fine, but let’s just be clear about it.

  • Lee Bowman

    “Since when does an expert need his own attorney at a deposition?”

    Let’s let DI answer that question. Here’s an excerpt from a statement issued by DI during the trial:

    Meyer, Dembski and Campbell were all willing to testify as expert witnesses. They simply requested that they have their own counsel present at their depositions in order to protect their rights. Yet Thomas More would not permit this. Mr. Thompson has been quoted in media accounts as stating that to permit independent counsel to assert the witnesses’ rights would create a “conflict of interest”–a claim for which he can offer no legal justification. When the witnesses refused to proceed without legal counsel to protect them, Thomas More cancelled the deposition of Prof. Campbell and effectively fired all three expert witnesses. After dismissing its own witnesses, Thomas More made an 11th-hour offer to Dr. Meyer alone to allow him to have counsel after all. But Meyer declined the offer because the previous actions of Thomas More had undermined his confidence in their legal judgment.

    For more, go here: http://www.discovery.org/a/3003

    “Shouldn’t Dembski be willing to defend the validity of intelligent design regardless of who the plaintiffs and defendants are?”

    Not necessarily. Involvement in a highly politicized court case may not be the best venue for those efforts. Given the political entanglements (ACLU, NCSE, various science organizations), the fact that the school board appeared to have acted unconstitutionally in some areas, and that DI had voiced strong opposition to the board’s pushing for policy change, I’m sure Dembski (and other DI associates) saw the handwriting on the wall.

    In this case, that wallcould well be the wall separating church and state (pun intended). While a valid protector of religious freedom and a guard against theocracy, that only applies if/when interpreted and employed properly. In my opinion however, that Jeffersonian clause has been employed not just to secularize education, but to prohibit inquiry into any area that may have theological implications, even though they be valid scientific pursuits. Placing this kind of restraint on education is plainly an example of government imposed fascism.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Bill,

    It is unfortunately the case that life is too short to read everything I would like to read so I sometimes just have to draw the line at the consensus of mainstream scholars unless someone can persuade me that there is some good reason to doubt it. Among the things I haven’t read for myself are Holocaust deniers and 911 Truthers even though many voices insist that these are areas of controversy. I have also never read any of the conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination although do think the Warren Commission’s conclusions may be tainted by the fact that Bobby Kennedy never told them about the efforts his brother’s administration had made to recruit mobsters to kill Castro.

    So while it’s true that a vile character may speak the truth, I think it’s reasonable for me to consider the manner in which a fringe position is being advanced when deciding whether it warrants further investigation on my part.

  • Darcy

    “It is not the definition that matters. What matters is how ID opponents actually go about trying to show that something must have the product of design rather than the action of undirected natural processes. Every argument I have seen boils down to “I don’t see how this could have occurred naturally.””

    I think Vinny intented to write “proponents”. Just to invite into the discussion (link below), rephrasing the words with Evolution in mind:

    It is the definition that matters. And also how Evolution proponents actually go about trying to show that something must be the product of undirected natural processes rather than design. Many arguments I have seen boils down to “The Creator wouldn’t do that. It looks like common ancestry to me”.

    “What evolutionists are referring to when they claim evolution is a fact?”

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/07/evolution-is-scientific-fact-day-74.html#comments

    And concerning peer reviewed paper, what about this recent one?

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/07/peer-reviewed_paper_investigat036771.html

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Lee,

    A defense expert is part of the legal team which is under the direction of the defendant’s attorney who owes a duty of zealous representation to the defendant. The defense attorney cannot assert his own interests to the detriment of his client and he cannot allow anyone on the team to assert their interests to the detriment of the client. The conflict of interest is obvious.

    The Discovery Institute may not have liked the odds in Kitzmiller, but I don’t think it had any right to complain after choosing to attack the scientific consensus on evolution at the level of high school biology curriculum rather than the level of peer-reviewed experimental research. The only way they were ever going to get any high school to adopt ID was if the school board was dominated by conservative Christians with a religious agenda.

  • Lee Bowman

    flippertie wrote:
    ” And there you go to the heart of the problem – there are no published primary sources for ID research.”

    Have you checked out Bill’s link to a partial list of published ID literature? It is far from complete, and the list is growing. Most of it doesn’t push ID politically, but rather presents data refuting natural causation, which implies design.

    ” You have Behe’s pop-science books (eg. Darwin’s black box) pushing his idea of Irreducible Complexity. This has been refuted as a proof of a designer – you can’t prove a negative – so you can’t prove that any particular item *could never* have evolved. all you can say is “as yet we don’t know how X could have evolved’.

    Actually, you can prove a negative, by eliminating all other alternatives. That catch phrase applies more to a situation where just because you haven’t seen an orbiting teapot doesn’t prove that one doesn’t exist. In the case of irreducible complexity for example, if it can be shown empirically or statistically that something could not self-evolve, what then are the alternatives? Intelligent input is one. Can you name others?

    Now the source of that intelligent could be God, gods, surrogates to a higher authority (angelics, spirit entities), a device that can think and produce coherent and organized outcomes, a savant idiot orbiting Pluto that takes time off occasionally to tweak a genome.

    ” Then you have Dembski’s ‘specified complexity’ – which tries to claim that it is possible to examine complex patterns and detect whether they were designed or not. This has also been comprehensively discredited: A study by Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit states that “Dembski’s work is riddled with inconsistencies, equivocation, flawed use of mathematics, poor scholarship, and misrepresentation of others’ results” “

    I have never run into mathematicians who don’t argue vociferously over how abstract concepts are properly interpreted mathematically. Further, have you followed court cases where attorneys equivocate non-stop by introducing convoluted logic to prove a point? “If the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit!” or “we found an outdated reagent bottle in the police lab, so their test results are in question … ” But hey, it worked. OJ walked.

    There are of course, worse examples, but you get the point. In the Dover trial, the plaintiffs tried to get Behe to admit astrology as valid science, which he never did. Piles of books and papers that Behe had to crane his neck to look around, done solely for theatrics (no citations given to prove immunity evolved, just theatrics). The judge nodded, and the audience chuckled, a perfect parody of a for Comedy Central bit.

    In the paper, they use snowflakes, crystals, fairy-rings and other natural phenomenon as examples of ‘Complex Specified Information’ (CSI), which they are not, by Dembski’s definition. Complex sure; specified by an intelligence, hardly. Their paper uses many examples of convoluted logic, too numerous to go into here.

    Put simply, Dembski states that evolutionary processes cannot produce CSI (vertebrate/invertebrate eye). Elsberry and shallit use bogus examples of complexity in nature that are produced by a natural (but in most cases designed) process to show that CSI need not be ‘specified’ (designer input). How many snowflakes would it take to equate to an eye, flight wings, the circulatory system, the digestive system, or best of all, the embryo process?

    “A search of google scholar for Shallit or Dembski the search results show that Shallit is very well published in peer-reviewed math journals, as opposed to Dembski. Dembski responded to the study with a series of attacks on Shallit … “

    Well his “attacks on Shallit” pale in comparison with Shallit’s attacks on Dembski, but DO show malicious intent with regard to his motives to discredit ID advocacy. Motive first; reason and logic tossed. But ah, he uses reason and logic to prove his assertions, you and others say. Have you read the paper? There is very little valid reasoning within. Logical soundingarguments yes, but debate using logical algorithms can produce twisted and circular logic.

    Dembski blogged about their tussles here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/jeffrey-shallit/

    ” … but has not published any refutation of them.”

    Why bother? Dembski gives his reason here:

    [Shallit’s] standard tactic is to demand detailed supportive evidence for whatever you say; then, no matter how much effort you go to in this regard, he says you have failed to prove your case and need “real” supportive evidence, and hence wastes your time and exhausts you and amasses a database of your best evidence to boot. It is a common tactic that I have encountered many times before in my debates.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/jeffrey-shallit-part-ii/

    Please read the comments as well. Scordova wrote in part:

    Regrettably, I had once actually sympathized with Elsberry and Shallit’s assessment of your work. Their papers have the power to confuse the undecided middle into thinking they have refuted your case. Their papers, until one scrutinizes them carefully, are sufficient to make one seriously doubt the strength of your claims. It was only through the process of carefully reviewing their 54 page paper that I realized, they weren’t even using your definitions, but rather replacing them with convenient re-definitions. But the thing was Bill, the packaging and the offering of equation after equation gave the veneer of a substantive take down. I can only hope more of the undecided middle will see through the veneer as I did …. “

    As I stated, most of what they wrote is fluff, with over one third of it mathematical gibberish. Casey Luskin summarizes it well.

    http://www.discovery.org/a/14911

  • Lee Bowman

    Vinny,

    “A defense expert is part of the legal team which is under the direction of the defendant’s attorney who owes a duty of zealous representation to the defendant. The defense attorney cannot assert his own interests to the detriment of his client and he cannot allow anyone on the team to assert their interests to the detriment of the client. The conflict of interest is obvious.”

    Bill Dembski had no moral obligation to defend the Dover school board’s actions.

    “The Discovery Institute may not have liked the odds in Kitzmiller, but I don’t think it had any right to complain after choosing to attack the scientific consensus on evolution at the level of high school biology curriculum rather than the level of peer-reviewed experimental research.”

    Interesting points. First, DI is not attacking science by defending ID. Second, your assertion that NDE in its current synthesis is a consensus view of the science community is interesting, since there are no tabulated numbers to show the percentages. Brian Alters, former AAAS president and expert witness at trial stated in an article published by NIH that “99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution.” In other words, In a stadium with 20,000 scientist attendees, only 20 would side with ID. Do you buy those numbers? And yet, many do.

    Consensus does not equate with reality. There was a time that the consensus view of scientists regarding infection went against germ theory. Considering that scientists are only allowed one view of evolution, why would there not be a leaning toward a materialist view? Also don’t take lightly the fact that ‘scientists’ who openly even consider ID as valid science can garner serious career derogations. Due to an ‘imposed’ theory, the real numbers cannot be known.

    “The only way they were ever going to get any high school to adopt ID was if the school board was dominated by conservative Christians with a religious agenda.”

    Not so. ID is the conclusion, based on observation, that biology is at least in part, a directed result. Design inference and statistical probabilities are its validation or falsification.

    But again, adopting ID isn’t the issue. Allowing it in as an alternative hypothesis to natural causation is.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Bill Dembski had no moral obligation to defend the Dover school board’s actions.

    You are absolutely correct. If the defense attorney concluded that Dembski’s honest answers wouldn’t help the board’s case, it was his prerogative to decide not to use Dembski as an expert. However, the defense attorney is the one who decides which expert to use and whether or not to object to questions that are put to the expert. The defense attorney cannot allow the expert to decide which questions he will answer or to bring along his own attorney to advise him which questions he should answer. That is why it is a conflict of interest for the expert to have his own attorney.

    Consensus does not equate with reality.

    More often than not it probably does although the correlation is not perfect, but I don’t think that is the point. If I am a school board member who is not an expert in biology, what basis could I have for rejecting the consensus of the experts other than personal religious convictions? What other scientific controversies have ever been resolved at the high school text book level?

  • Lee Bowman

    “If I am a school board member who is not an expert in biology, what basis could I have for rejecting the consensus of the experts other than personal religious convictions?”

    In the case of Dover v Kitzmiller, it was probably based on religious views. After all, not only were Wm. Buckingham et al not ID advocates prior to trial, they admitted to have little familiarity with it. So their views were faith based, rather than science based.

    But school boards don’t decide scientific issues. District Federal Judges do.

  • Fladabosco

    I think everyone has missed the problem here. ID people are trying to define the undefinable. I am an agnostic but it seems pretty obvious there is some sort of design going on here. I don’t want to call it god. I’ll call it nature. Can I prove it’s nature and not god? To me they are the same thing.

    If ID people weren’t all trying to define the designer as a Christian god I would have no problem with it. But then it wouldn’t make any difference to them and they would stop promoting it.

  • Lee Bowman

    “If ID people weren’t all trying to define the designer as a Christian god I would have no problem with it.”

    Fine then, since they are not. ID by definition is a conclusion based on ‘design inference’, not on scriptural accounts.

    Logically speaking, there are those with strong religious beliefs who embrace ID, but there are many who do not, due to a belief that incremental design over vast time (evidence based) is contra to the Biblical account (faith based).

    ID critics cite the the former, in particular those who are openly evangelical, as foundational to ID (ID founders, and those who use ID to promote religion). Nothing could be further from the truth in defining ID proper.

    ID is an investigative hypothesis, based solely on design inferences, i.e. directed actions by an intelligence (or multiple intelligences) to produce life forms. Evolution is not ruled out, but is limited to adaptive modifications, rather than novel and highly complex (non-evolvable) alterations.

    One who embraces ID from a science perspective might well be religious, but many are agnostic, since science itself is agnostice about unproven hypotheses. It is not surprising however, that once the vast evidence supportive of ID (as opposed to natural causation) is accepted as the best explanation for biologic life, that a religious orientation would follow.

  • Wesley Elsberry

    I had cause to be looking for instances where my name and Lee Bowman’s appeared together, and that brought me here. Late to the party, sure, but I’ll leave a contribution.

    Lee is awfully quick to dismiss things that he apparently does not understand.

    Let’s start with the end. Lee recommends Casey Luskin as a source. Casey, though, just doesn’t get it. Casey is known for having gotten time completely backwards when it came to the publication of the Elsberry and Shallit essay in Synthese. (See http://austringer.net/wp/index.php/2011/01/26/luskin-thinks-critics-must-be-clairvoyant/ ) The fact that Casey and Lee don’t understand the math does not impugn the content of the math. Beyond the “unstuck in time” thing for Casey, I listed two further points that showed Casey simply could not have read the essay for comprehension in his “response”. (It was in writing and came after the essay, therefore it was a response?) When a supposed critic can’t even handle basic philosophical points we made, it seems like a long-shot to surmise that “summarizes it well” is a possible *truthful* description. It is an instance of a Casey Luskin hit piece: an uncareful, uncharitable mishmash of presuppositions, confusions, and miscomprehensions.

    Next up: Salvador Cordova. Here’s a fellow who bragged about how he was willing to “take a grenade” for Dembski by being the guy to engage Dembski’s critics. Sal doesn’t appear to have met an argument he didn’t like, no matter how silly. Try out this link: http://antievolution.org/aebb-archive/aebbarchive_elsberry_shallit_on_dembski_t178.html . Sal variously tries to critique an example without taking account the difference between deterministic and non-deterministic algorithms, attempts to declare that extended discussion of the math Dembski lays out as establishing “complex specified information” somehow misses the central definition of CSI, and attempts to make points concerning “omega” within Dembski’s work without understanding that it is completely determined by the context of a particular example.

    William Dembski has chosen to use dismissal rather than engage the arguments. This is standard operating procedure for Dembski. His assertion that our essay is “out of date” is pretty laughable given that Dembski has never retracted the claims we addressed. The same applies to others who merely repeat the “out of date” mantra without understanding the issues.

    And that brings us back to Lee Bowman. Lee makes a completely unsubstantiated claim that the arguments in our essay do not withstand scrutiny. Given that Lee puts no effort into making his point, it doesn’t seem necessary to do more than note that Lee is mistaken.

    Lee points to section 9.3 of our essay as being based on “bogus examples”. Lee fails to note the argument we are making concerns Dembski’s inconsistency in his choice of how to analyze examples. Because Dembski chooses to use either a “uniform probability” or a “causal-history” approach to examples depending on whether he wishes to accept an example as having CSI or not, it is an open question as to what CSI signifies if approached in a consistent manner. Section 9.3 points out that various natural phenomena, if measured on the same “scale” Dembski chooses to apply to examples where he knows agents were involved, would also meet the other requirements of Dembski’s CSI. This point eludes Lee and various other would-be critics of our essay. And, contrary to Lee’s assertion, none of the six phenomena we list are due to “designed” processes.

    Lee accuses us of using “convoluted logic”. Lee would be better off making the simple and humble admission that *he* failed to understand it and leave it at that.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Brilliant. This reminds me of that scene in Annie Hall:
    Marshall McLuhan: “I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work!”

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