Dembski back in the ring for ID

If we are to believe William Dembski, our local expert in intelligent design, the theory of evolution is on its way out. Within the next decade, he says, evolution will be dead.

Dembski, a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Louisville, made this astounding prediction in an Associated Press article published in Sunday’s Lexington Herald-Leader.

Needless to say, evolution as a theory is not anywhere close to being dead, or even knocked out, but among the ID folk, I guess hope reigns supreme.

In the article, Dembski offers little convincing evidence for his claim, other than saying that evolution cannot supply answers about how life evolved on Earth. He suggests that patterns in biological systems “point us to intelligence.”

Now I may be wrong about this, but I thought evolution was all about how life evolved on Earth. For the vast majority of scientists who accept the theory, it seems to have done a pretty good job of explaining how life has evolved. There is a ton of evidence supporting its validity as a scientific theory, as well.

For those subscribing to the ID dogma, however, evolution lacks that one critical ingredient, the inclusion of an external “intelligent” influence that has directed the development of life on Earth. They stop short of calling that influence divine, preferring the word designer instead, but the proposition is still unscientific.

Despite all their efforts to convince the public that ID is a scientific theory, the IDists have failed miserably, most recently in Dover, Pa., where a federal judge, ruling in Kitzmiller et al. v Dover School District, el al., soundly quashed any efforts to teach ID alongside evolution in the Dover public schools.

Why? Because no matter how IDists try to cover their tracks, suggesting there is an intelligence influencing the development of life ultimately leads to implying that intelligence is divine. Any “theory” that relies on a supernatural cause cannot by definition be scientific; supernatural causes cannot be verified by experiment and cannot be used to predict future outcomes. Supernatural implies “outside human control.”

In the article, Dembski and Discovery Institute spokesman Rob Crowther argue that the DI actually discouraged the Dover school board proposal that ID be taught in the classroom, since (they say) ID is still in its infancy as a theory. Rather, the DI’s current tactic is to criticize evolution’s weak points and to encourage schools “to teach the controversy.”

Nevertheless, two DI fellows, Lehigh University biochemist Michael J. Behe and University of Idaho microbiologist Scott Minnich, testified for the Dover school board in the 21st century reprise of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. According to at least one account of the trial, their testimony did more to help the plaintiffs’ case than it did to help ID’s case as a valid alternative to evolution, which is apparently what the DI had feared all along.

So, Dembski’s predictions of doom are misplaced, as other critics’ premonitions have been. It’s Intelligent Design that is on the ropes, ready for the knockout punch, not evolution. They might be able to float like a butterfly, but they can’t sting like the “E.” Ding!

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