Sunday, May 21, 2006


2nd Post on Lawrence Krauss

In his article 'Science vs. Religion in the ID Debate' (Free Inquiry, April/May 2006) theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss opines:

'What is Intelligent Design anyway? Examined closely; it doesn't amount to much more than simply being opposed to evolution.' (p. 37)

I would surmise from this statement that Krauss hasn't examined ID closely.

First of all, 'evolution' is such an equivocal term that we really should distinguish several senses of the term in order to point out that, for example, ID is not opposed to evolution in the sense of 'change over time'. Nor is ID opposed to evolution in the sense of 'micro-evolution'. Nor is ID opposed to evolution in the sense of 'modification with descent', or to common ancestry. Some design theorists are opposed to the thesis of 'universal common ancestory', but this is not definitive of ID theory per se.

What ID is opposed to is evolution in the sense of 'the blind watchmaker thesis' that the undirected capacities of nature can account for certain facets of physical reality, including certain aspects of biotic reality. The facets in question are those aspects of nature which - it is claimed - exhibit specified (and/or irreducible) complexity. Hence, ID is only opposed to evolution in its grandest, totalizing explanatory sense.

Moreover, ID has application outside the field of biology - for example, ID includes arguments from cosmic and local examples of 'fine tuning' of the sort discussed by cosmologists and astrobiologists. Indeed, ID has application in any scientific field which seeks to make design inferences from empirical evidence.

And this last point shows that Krauss ignores one half of ID in his statement, for ID does not simply mean being opposed to the grander explanatory claims of evolutionary theory - it also means favouring an evidentially motivated appeal to intelligence as the only cause known to be capable of explaining precisely those example of specified and irreducible complexity for which evolution fails to account.

ID means being in favour of evolution when it is an adequate explanation and being in favour of intelligent design when that is the best explanation.

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