Michael Behe: what is "Intelligent Design"?
Last night I called in at Westminster Chapel for Darwin or Design? An Evening with Michael Behe, hosted by Justin Brierley, presenter of Premier Christian Radio's Unbelievable? programme, with support from the new Centre for Intelligent Design.
I thought I'd use that as an excuse for a series of blog posts about "Intelligent Design" (ID), as Michael Behe is one of the biggest names in that movement. It's not something I know much about, but this is my blog, and what is the purpose of a blog if not to give me an outlet for my ignorant waffle? I'm just thinking aloud; don't take this too seriously.
So let's begin: what is ID?
Here's what Behe said:
Design is the purposeful arrangement of parts.
We infer design whenever parts appear arranged to accomplish a function.
The strength of the inference is quantitative.
I don't think this is any different to the "explanatory filter" of ID proponent William Dembski, which goes something like this. Can it be explained by physical laws and necessity? (No.) Can it be explained by a combination of law and chance processes? (No.) Then the reasonable inference is that an intelligent agent has been involved.
I've chewed over this a bit, and in an attempt to capture the thrust of ID, I offer the following as a summary:
The theory of evolution by random mutation and natural selection does a pretty bad job at explaining the complexity we see in living things. So, hey guys, maybe we should try thinking up some other ideas one of these days?
And since these "other ideas" would all involve the purposeful activity of an external agent, we can lump them together under the name "Intelligent Design".
In other words, it seems to me that ID is essentially anti-evolutionism with the addition of the (trivial) statement, that if, whenever we attempt to explain life (in all its complexity) without the intervention of an external intelligent agent, our attempts fail, then that suggests that an external intelligent agent might well have been involved.
That's not to say ID is not without value. But basically ID is anti-evolutionism.
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