We need to distinguish between the weak version and the strong version of “intelligent design.” The weak version is something many evolutionists could readily accept. The strong version is nonsense.
The weak version of ID goes approximately like this:
- The marvelous complexity of the universe is very likely the work,
in some form or fashion, of a Designer. That may turn out not to be
the case, but it's the most plausible explanation.
- The Designer appears to use evolution and other natural processes as tools in a continuing creation.
- We can't rule out that maybe the Designer also uses supernatural tools.
- But our ability to gather reliable, usable information about the
supernatural is just about nil. In contrast, our track record in using
the scientific method to investigate nature has been extremely fruitful.
- As a matter of scientific discipline, we force ourselves
to assume that only natural processes are involved in the continuing
creation. This helps us resist the temptation to cop out when we
encounter tough science problems. It’s not unlike the alcoholic who
doesn’t want a drink, he wants 10 drinks, so in self-defense he sticks
to club soda.
I’ll accept the weak-ID view in a heartbeat. In fact, the first couple of points are crucial to my faith.
* * *
Unfortunately, the strong version of ID goes much, much further than this. The strong-ID view usually insists that God had to have intervened, in some supernatural fashion, in various aspects of the creation processes.
The foundation of the strong-ID view is the fallacy of argument from ignorance: that because we don’t yet know how something could have happened by natural processes, it therefore must have happened by supernatural intervention.
Baloney. The argument from ignorance is an intellectual
malignancy. I would speculate that it’s the product of some or all of
several psychological factors, such as laziness, insecurity, and a
psychological inability to cope with uncertainty.
* * *
On the whole, strong-ID proponents are wonderful people. Many of them are extremely intelligent, which makes it all the more baffling why they hold the views they do. They have laudable motives, especially the desire to defend theism against aggressive atheists such as Richard Dawkins. By and large, I’d much rather associate with them than with some of the rabidly-atheist evolutionists.
But when strong-IDers get aggressive about their views, they shoot themselves in the foot.
Worse, they make it that much harder for the rest of us to preach
the Good News to intelligent, educated atheists and agnostics who,
rightly, dismiss the strong-ID view out of hand.