Sunday, June 05, 2005

George Will Misrepresents Intelligent Design

Intelligent design was discussed briefly this morning on ABC's "This Week". None of the four participants (George Stephanopoulos, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, George Will) seemed to know much about the subject, and what they said didn't have a lot of significance. George Will correctly said that a person can believe in some form of evolution, including macro-evolution, and be an advocate of intelligent design. Michael Behe, for example, believes in the evolutionary concept of common descent, but he believes that an intelligent agent would be needed in the process. George Will went on, though, to claim that intelligent design is unfalsifiable. He's wrong. (See here.) We can detect design by means of particular features that are present, much as we do in archeology and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Is George Will going to reject the work done in fields such as archeology and SETI, because it's allegedly unfalsifiable? Critics of intelligent design often argue that the concept is untestable, yet they go on to claim that we have no need for intelligent design, since we allegedly know of possible ways that an organism could have evolved by natural selection and mutation. Well, either intelligent design is falsifiable or it isn't. You can't have it both ways. You can't claim, on the one hand, that the concept is unfalsifiable, then claim, on the other hand, that our ability to imagine a possible evolutionary alternative falsifies intelligent design. Why are people who tell us that intelligent design is unfalsifiable also claiming that we need not appeal to intelligent design, because it's been falsified?

It looks like intelligent design is going to be in the news a lot in the coming years. For those of you who don't know much about the subject, I suggest reading up on it. Here's a post I wrote on the subject the week before last.