Why Not Intelligent Design?
1. Let's go to the source of the ID movement and see how they define themselves.
“there exist natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural causes and that exhibit features which in any other circumstances we would attribute to intelligence” (Dembski).
“Intelligent-design theory states that certain features of the natural world are of such complexity that the most plausible explanation is that they are products of an intelligent cause rather than random mutation and natural selection”. (Discovery Institute)
It appears very simple - ID posits that some of life is SO complicated that there is no way it could have come about naturally. And their mission in life is to identify examples. First we had the flagellum, then the blood clotting cascade and now metamorphosis where it is posited that to go from an eating caterpillar machine to a reproductive butterfly defies anyway that could have happened by natural mechanisms. The point that is made is that this transition according to them is in a single step. This example is a little different from the previous two attempts, as in those it was stated that if any one step was missing the entire system could not work. Unfortunately, when Behe and others published these it was only a matter of months before biologists came forward to show how the parts of the flagellum were adapted from other structures and there are many animals lacking many of the steps we have in the clotting system and do fine. I urge you to go to the Internet if you'd like to see the refutations, many of them from the Christian molecular biologist Kenneth Miller.
2. The second thing to note is how the modern ID movement got started, by whom, and the foundational philosophy behind this latest attempt to attack mainstream science. I don't want to bore you with things you may already know. You may also be interested in how it's funded and by whom. Be sure you read the original Wedge Document.
This is the actual Wedge Document text and at the bottom is a link to the original publication that is scanned for you:
From the very beginning these scientists and others were not out to find truth, to look at all the evidence and draw conclusions based on the data even if it contradicted what they thought. This movement began with a religious and philosophical agenda and facts be damned. The second point - this is basically anti-science because it is off the table that they could ever be wrong. It's the OPPOSITE of the way science works. Evolution IS falsifiable. ID is a horrible and corrupt way to look at doing science.
3. But what about their assertion? Why not? Life IS very complicated and anyone in the field is awed and amazed at the complexity and must at times wonder how this could have come about through natural processes.
Think about it. The entire ID movement exists to find mysteries that can't be solved, so then the default position is "God Did It". Science is often hard, but they are giving up before they even start! Science loves to find mysteries to try and meet the challenge of explaining those unknowns. ID proponents are trying to find mysteries that CAN'T be solved. In some ways, this is more dangerous than standard creationism because it strikes at the philosophical base of curiosity and methodology. Would you hire a mechanic to look over your car to find unexplainable things he could not solve? Would you hire an architect to design a house for you on a steep hill knowing his purpose in life was to find problems he could not solve? Do you want a scientist working on tough problems that has an ID mentality? Not only that, but they are saying, "If I can't figure it out using my chosen field of methodological naturalism, then no one can." The audacity to put yourself in that position. ("man will never fly"). The argument from incredulity.
What other area of human activity also likes mysteries, and searches, embraces, and tries to hold onto them? It's religion. And when the mysteries eventually fall to science we call that the closing of another "God-of-the-gaps". Right now religion is holding onto two important mysteries - the origins of the universe and life. Some say science will never solve these. Perhaps so. Sound familiar? It is an argument from ignorance clothed in new ID wool.
4. The ID movement was pulled into court and basically put on trial by a conservative judge appointed by Bush. It was exposed as another newly morphed creationist movement. Please, please if you have not watched the NOVA special of the trial, please do so - especially if you find ID very attractive. Intelligent Design on Trial (2007)
5. The world is NOT intelligently designed. There have been at least five mass extinctions on the planet. Human males have breasts they never use for milk but can get and die from breast cancer, all mammals have a recurrent laryngeal nerve that is a stupid thing to put in by any engineer - unless we evolved from fish and then it's very easy to explain. The universe is so vast and inhospitable that we may never get off this rock for long and we are constantly at risk from meteorites hitting us and wiping out our planet (Neil deGrasse Tyson). The "Fall" is an ad hoc religious invention without any evidence for the event, and now we have DNA evidence that it did not occur. If evil entered the world in the past as told by the scriptures then the scriptures are wrong. There was no historical Adam & Eve and the errors in our pseudogenes, ERVs, etc. instead show common descent, NOT design (see appropriate pages this web site). We share mutations and errors with all the great apes. We have tons of old relic olfactory genes we don't use. Even whales have genes for smelling they can't use. The concept of plagiarism in our own culture is staring us in the face in our genomes (there are shared errors between species; if God wanted us to find evolution, He did a great job of showing us the conclusion, just like how Intel and book publishers protect their products by purposely putting in errors to see if anyone would copy them). We suffer because of natural selection - errors in copying, parasites, viruses and even mental health problems; that's why medicines often work and not prayer!
6. What about this latest attempt to find something that natural selection and evolution can't explain. "Explain this!!".
First of all, their latest example is complete metamorphisis. Why did they not talk about the other types of metamorphisis? And what about the research going on trying to understand it? Unlike these ID scientists, real scientists are not giving up. What will happen in the future when scientists finally understand on the DNA and developmental level how this occurs? Will the ID people say, "wow, they eventually did offer an explanation on how the flagellum, blood clotting cascade and now metamorphosis could have evolved. I guess I've been disproven so many times that there appears to be a pattern here that I should look closely at?" Not a chance because ID is not science but rather a religious philosophy. So they will just find another. And they WILL, because life is so complex and there's so much we don't know. But so far, naturalistic causation has won the day for 150 years without the need for supernatural explanations. How big of an "n" do you need? It's not that the supernatural can't be in science (unlike what Johnson attacked when he founded the modern ID movement) but rather to date, after 400 years of testing it has never been needed so mainstream scientists are no longer considering it anymore - they use methodological naturalism because it works and has NEVER failed them to date, although there are many problems that may not be solved in the near future. All world views can use it and get results because it leaves out the supernatural.
Listed below are some articles about metamorphosis, which seems to be the latest ID attempt to find an example that can't be explained naturally.
There's probably a lot more. Why would they leave out what we do know and that there are simpler types so it's not just "one step". Is science is completely silent about metamorphosis?
7. The ID movement is hard to characterize. Many are old - earth creationists (no human evolution), many are young-biosphere creationists (old earth, but all life the last 10,000 years), some are agnostics, some like Behe are actually evolutionists accepting molecules to man evidence but not liking the mechanism of natural selection and mutations. But they all hold to a desire to put in purpose and design into nature rather than what appears to be a system in place that produces wonderful adaptations not here for us. Most are anti-evolution in some way (not Behe) and since evolutionary theory is nearly a fact, most of IDers can't be taken seriously as a result.
8. More objective scientists have looked at ID and abandoned it. This is part 4; if you go back to part 1 you can read how he started out in ID.
There are some excellent writings on why ID should be rejected as legitimate science. See the writings of Francis Collins, Jerry Coyne (Why Evolution Is True) and Kenneth Miller (Only A Theory has a lot about ID).
Why can't scientists by experimentation turn one species into a very different one? Link
Discovery Institute uses stock photo for it's web shot. Link
Intelligent Design Explained
Seeking a Signature (Venema, Dennis)
Engineering at its Finest: Bacterial Chemotaxis and Signal Transduction
C0nc0rdance YouTube rebuttal (embed)
Poor design example: Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve (Link, this site)
Dennis Venema - leaving Intelligent Design