Intelligent Design: Its Nature, Limitations, And Future -- By: J. Thomas Bridges

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 008:1 (Spring 2009)
Article: Intelligent Design: Its Nature, Limitations, And Future
Author: J. Thomas Bridges

Intelligent Design: Its Nature, Limitations, And Future

J. Thomas Bridges

There are many different ways of thinking about Intelligent Design (ID). The paradigm has scientific, philosophical, and theological facets. ID might be seen as a matrix of arguments: some about the contingency of nature’s organization, some from specific aspects of the natural world, such as the bacterial flagellum, and some that take on the analytic power of mathematical deduction. The focus of this article will be this latter form of ID. Specifically, this paper will address the scientific nature of Intelligent Design, its natural limitations as a science, how these limitations affect its interaction with neo–Darwinism, and how its challenges to neo–Darwinism in the future can be made more consistent with its scientific nature and more directly related to particular aspects of the neo–Darwinian paradigm. This article will argue that ID science can overcome its current limitations by first changing the biological theory of origins with which it deals and then co–opting this new theory to suit design conclusions.1

Intelligent Design: A Science with Limitations

In his most recent work, The Design of Life, William Dembski, along with Jonathan Wells, has said that “to determine whether intuitions are leading us astray or aright, scientists attempt to flesh out intuitions with precise formal analyses.2 It will seem obvious to anyone familiar with Dembski’s work that he has made Intelligent Design into a rigorous mathematical argument or “formal analysis.” Prior to this quantification, arguments to design rested upon analogies, intuitions, and philosophical reasoning that are too easily dismissed by the scientific community. The community of evolutionary biologists already believes that it has an answer as to how immensely complex organisms could have been produced gradually over time, and, therefore, their intuitions regarding design detection in nature have been hopelessly dulled. Because of these dulled sensibilities, Dembski’s analytic approach offers the best way to convince a skeptical scientific community, namely, rigorous mathematical deduction.

The notions that Dembski employs like information, probability, complexity, and specification are all to be understood as rooted in the mathematical sciences. Given that the complexity–specification criterion is the most apparent form of ID, as science it follows that any natural limitations will flow from this quantitative approach.3 But before embarking on a description of these limitations, it i...

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