Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Let this be the last time...

The ID crowd has been quite fond of saying that ID predicts this or ID predicts that. A recent example has been that of the supposed ID prediction that junk DNA should have function. One reason mentioned for this is that there tends to be little junk in human designs. Before I yet again claim that this is nonsense, let me delve deeper into the junk DNA issue. The journal Nature has an article (2007, vol 446, number 7138, p864) that describes how certain large non-coding sequences (previous "junk") in Drosophila appear to act as silencers to parasitic genetic elements known as transposons (more "junk" DNA). Off the top of my head, the best analogy to this that I can think of in terms of human designs, would be the case of an architect/builder building a wooden house, filling it with termites and then adding the odd anteater to stop the house from crumbling. Do you reckon any IDists predicted this?

As I - and anyone who has actually looked at what ID actually states - have frequently said, ID predicts nothing. It seems that some ID supporters agree with me, most notably William Dembski. In a document, "Is Intelligent Design Testable?", dated Jan 24th 2001 he writes (emphasis added):

But what about the predictive power of intelligent design? To require prediction fundamentally misconstrues design. To require prediction of design is to put design in the same boat as natural laws, locating their explanatory power in an extrapolation from past experience. This is to commit a category mistake. To be sure, designers, like natural laws, can behave predictably (designers often institute policies that end up being rigidly obeyed). Yet unlike natural laws, which are universal and uniform, designers are also innovators. Innovation, the emergence to true novelty, eschews predictability. Designers are inventors. We cannot predict what an inventor would do short of becoming that inventor. Intelligent design offers a radically different problematic for science than a mechanistic science wedded solely to undirected natural causes. Yes, intelligent design concedes predictability. But this represents no concession to Darwinism, for which the minimal predictive power that it has can readily be assimilated to a design-theoretic framework.

I'm glad we finally got that out of the way.


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