Here is part 2 of my summary of Stephen Meyer’s response to key objections raised against ID (read part 1).  This post will conclude my review/summary of Meyer’s book.  Links to the entire series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7a.

“ID is an argument from ignorance”

Not at all.  Arguments from ignorance take the following form: X cannot explain Y, therefore Z does.  That is not the form of ID arguments.  ID does not reason that if all naturalistic proposals fail, ID must be true by default.  There are positive evidences provided for inferring design in the universe/biology.  We are not ignorant of how information arises.  We also know from experience that only intelligent designers are capable of producing information (functional, complex specificity).  So postulating an intelligent designer to explain the biological information we observe in the cell is based on what we know, not what we don’t.  If chance and necessity are not adequate to explain the origin of biological information, whereas intelligent agency is, then it is reasonable to view intelligence is the best explanation.[1]

“Doesn’t this presuppose a naturalistic explanation won’t be found in the future?” 

No, it doesn’t.  It merely recognizes that our conclusions should be based on the evidence available to us in the present, not hypothetical evidence that might possibly be discovered in the future.  We must reason to the best explanation given our current data, and our current data gives us no reason to believe life originated by purely naturalistic means, but good reason to believe its origin is due to the activity of a designing intelligence. 

Historical scientists work by considering multiple causal hypotheses to explain some set of data.  They eliminate hypotheses one-by-one until they arrive at the best explanation.  If they could never rule out a hypothesis on the basis that future discoveries may show that hypothesis to be plausible, they could never come to a conclusion!  Scientific reasoning requires that we abandon certain hypotheses based on what we know today.[2]

“Who designed the designer?”

Ignorance of the cause of Q does not invalidate the causal adequacy of Q to explain R.  We may not know who caused Q, but if we have good reason to believe Q caused R, that is sufficient.  For example, one need not know who designed Stonehenge or how they designed it in order to conclude that it was designed.  Similarly, if I encounter a dead man with a knife stuck in his back, I don’t need to know who caused the murderer before I can conclude that a murderer is responsible.  Indeed, if we have to have an explanation for every causal explanation, science would be impossible.  As William Lane Craig writes:

In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t have an explanation of the explanation. This is an elementary point concerning inference to the best explanation as practiced in the philosophy of science. If archaeologists digging in the earth were to discover things looking like arrowheads and hatchet heads and pottery shards, they would be justified in inferring that these artifacts are not the chance result of sedimentation and metamorphosis, but products of some unknown group of people, even though they had no explanation of who these people were or where they came from. Similarly, if astronauts were to come upon a pile of machinery on the back side of the moon, they would be justified in inferring that it was the product of intelligent, extra-terrestrial agents, even if they had no idea whatsoever who these extra-terrestrial agents were or how they got there. In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t be able to explain the explanation. In fact, so requiring would lead to an infinite regress of explanations, so that nothing could ever be explained and science would be destroyed. So in the case at hand, in order to recognize that intelligent design is the best explanation of the appearance of design in the universe, one needn’t be able to explain the designer.[3]

“ID is not peer-reviewed”

Actually, ID articles have been peer-reviewed.  But this objection is a red-herring because being or not being published does not mean something is true or false.  Furthermore, circular reasoning is employed.  Critics say ID is not science because it is not peer-reviewed, and yet they won’t publish ID papers because they say ID is not science![4]

“ID violates natural law”

ID does not violate natural law.  Humans regularly act in ways that interfere with the normal working of natural laws, but we don’t “violate” those laws.  We simply “alter the conditions upon which the laws act.”  When we arrange letters on a magnetic board to create information we are not violating the laws of electromagnetism, but merely altering the way matter is configured. 

Agents regularly initiate new events within a matrix of existing events operating according to natural law.  And since historical sciences seek to discover the cause of events rather than some natural law, it is legitimate to posit an intelligent agent who causes a new event.  Furthermore, natural laws often describe, rather than explain phenomenon (e.g. Newton’s gravitational laws).[5]


[1]Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: Harper One, 2009), 376-9.
[2]Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: Harper One, 2009), 378-81.
[3]William Lane Craig, “What do you think of Richard Dawkins’ argument for atheism in The God Delusion?”; available from http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5493; Internet; accessed 27 April 2007.
[4]Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: Harper One, 2009), 411-13.
[5]Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: Harper One, 2009), 418-20.

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