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Where Does Intelligent Design Stand Today? Taner Edis Department of Physics, Truman State University ~edis/

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Presentation on theme: "Where Does Intelligent Design Stand Today? Taner Edis Department of Physics, Truman State University ~edis/"— Presentation transcript:


2 Where Does Intelligent Design Stand Today? Taner Edis Department of Physics, Truman State University ~edis/

3 2008Intelligent Design2 More sophisticated anti- evolution than creationism. Becomes visible in 1990s. Claims to be driven by science.

4 2008Intelligent Design3 Response to ID Usual reaction from mainstream science: ID not naturalistic, not admissible as science. ID proponents: limiting science to natural explanations illegitimately constrains inquiry.

5 2008Intelligent Design4 Scientific criticism Some scientists have been curious. ID is likely wrong. But we can learn from finding out how. Interesting questions about complexity and information. ID can be scientifically criticized.

6 2008Intelligent Design5 ID v.1: Bare improbability Example: Cosmic ID. Physical constants “fine- tuned” to make life possible. Life and intelligence extremely improbable. Problems: probability concepts, history of physics, current prospects… Assume no problem.

7 2008Intelligent Design6 ID v.1: Non-explanation Designer explanation: Highlights no new pattern, no prediction. Repeats what is known. “Design” empty without specific, independent knowledge about designer (Sober). Useless for science.

8 2008Intelligent Design7 ID v.2: Darwin inadequate Failure of established explanation would create room for design. Positive case: find signature of intelligent design. Some feature not accessible to Darwinian mechanisms?

9 2008Intelligent Design8 ID v.2: Improbable complexity Information-rich structures found in biology (not cosmology). Not accessible to Darwinian variation-and- selection? Mathematically rigorous demonstration: specified complexity? (Dembski)

10 2008Intelligent Design9 Chance and Necessity Physics relies on chance and necessity. Radioactive decays happen at random. H 2 O structure explained by physical laws. Combinations of chance and necessity!

11 2008Intelligent Design10 ID as third option

12 2008Intelligent Design11 Dembski’s filter

13 2008Intelligent Design12 Concessions to ID Such ideas capture some common intuitions about design and complexity. Take them seriously. Similar to theoretical proposals in physics: subject to scientific criticism. Cannot dismiss as non-science.

14 2008Intelligent Design13 Computers are not creative Programming and input determine the output of a computer. No new information added.

15 2008Intelligent Design14 Not bound by rules Humans are creative––we are flexible, not bound by pre-programmed rules. We always might figure out a new way to do things. Gödelian critique of AI: Any system of rules is rigid; it has blind spots. ID: no mechanism (including Darwin’s) can be creative. Humans are nonalgorithmic, beyond computer programs. Yes!

16 2008Intelligent Design15 A source of novelty In games where the opponent can adapt to a set strategy, occasional random behavior can be the best strategy. Novelty, unpredictability come from randomness. Combine chance and necessity for flexibility!

17 2008Intelligent Design16 Completeness Theorem The only tasks beyond rules and randomness (chance and necessity) require infinite information to be known. Any human output can be produced by mechanisms combining rules and randomness.

18 2008Intelligent Design17 Darwinian creativity Intelligence relies on broadly Darwinian processes combining chance and necessity. Darwinian thinking has become common in in AI, and cognitive and brain sciences.

19 2008Intelligent Design18 Criticisms of ID “theory” My criticism: Nothing like Dembski’s filter––not even “fixed” ID, can possibly work. Others: Perakh, Stenger, Sober, etc. etc. Misuse of NFL theorems. CSI supposed to be linked to Behe’s IC, but IC is a failure.

20 2008Intelligent Design19 Dembski’s response to critics Ignore criticism, particularly WIDF. Dead-end attempts at mathematical rigor. Non-intellectual polemic. Popular ID books with no new ideas.

21 2008Intelligent Design20 Behe’s response to critics To save “irreducible complexity,” demand full Darwinian pathways–– partial sample not enough. Switch to other arguments that have got even less attention from biologists. Unfamiliarity with literature.

22 2008Intelligent Design21 ID becomes creationism rerun Intellectually, degenerated into quasi- creationism: no positive case, only “flaws” of “Darwinism.” False confidence. Politics, legal battles, pressure on education. Cries of persecution.

23 2008Intelligent Design22 Where does ID stand? In the realm of science, ID is no longer interesting. It has had its day. Fatal criticisms, largely ignored. ID is not a proper intellectual enterprise! ID is still significant as an object of study. Science and religion. ID

24 2008Intelligent Design23 ID in education After Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005), teaching ID difficult. Private schools, supplements. “Teaching the controversy” / “Strengths and weaknesses.”

25 2008Intelligent Design24 Legal issues 1 st amendment is only barrier against ID in public schools. No law against bad science. ID is (partly) bad science. Kitzmiller decision was lucky. Not always!

26 2008Intelligent Design25 ID is alive and well ID had a brief stage of zombiehood in science. ID is alive in education. Louisiana law in 2008. ID is doing well as a cultural phenomenon. Grassroots support, sympathy of some intellectuals.

27 2008Intelligent Design26 Parallel institutions? ID not sensitive to scientific criticism. Whether ID flourishes depends on cultural support translating to organizational clout and focused funding. Intellectual debate a side-show?

28 2008Intelligent Design27 Plug Taner Edis, Science and Nonbelief (Prometheus Books, 2008).

29 2008Intelligent Design28 Web site Contains many articles on science and religion. E-mail

30 2008Intelligent Design29 Thanks for listening! Any questions?

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