Elliot Sober: What is wrong with intelligent design?


There’s a paper that examines the scientific credentials of Intelligent Design in the March issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology. Here’s a quote from the paper:

“‘When scientific theories compete with each other, the usual pattern is that independently attested auxiliary propositions allow the theories to make predictions that disagree with each other,’ Sober writes. ‘No such auxiliary propositions allow … ID to do this.’ In developing this idea, Sober makes use of ideas that the French philosopher Pierre Duhem developed in connection with physical theories – theories usually do not, all by themselves, make testable predictions. Rather, they do so only when supplemented with auxiliary information. For example, the laws of optics do not, by themselves, predict when eclipses will occur; they do so when independently justified claims about the positions of the earth, moon, and sun are taken into account.

Similarly, ID claims make predictions when they are supplemented by auxiliary claims. The problem is that these auxiliary assumptions about the putative designer’s goals and abilities are not independently justified. Surprisingly, this is a point that several ID proponents concede. “

This is basically saying the same thing that I wrote about earlier here. (Though the idea that ID is really more a philosophical world-view than a scientific theory is not one that I can claim to have originated.)

Read the rest here: What is wrong with intelligent design?

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...