Challenge Response: Intelligent Design Is Not Science

Posted: February 17, 2011 by Alan Shlemon in Intelligently Designed, Weekly Challenge

Here’s my response to this week’s challenge:

  1. This is an area I’m hopelessly ignorant in so I didn’t answer. I can do all the reading I want in evolution and intelligent design, but when I’m not actually doing the experiments myself I don’t really know who to believe. That’s kinda my issue here.

  2. Brett Kunkle says:

    Alan, you lost all credibility in the first minute of the video!

  3. Brilliant response from Alan Shlemon.

    I do look forward to when we Christians can finally make a strong case against Brian’s argument though… I feel that could be a long time coming!!

  4. Unfortunately, there are a couple of issues with your argumentation.

    You claim archeology and forensics are sciences and it would be “foolish” not to agree. That’s an ‘ad hominem argument’ and therefore illegitimate in a rational debate.

    But your argument falls flat also because technically, both archeology and forensics are indeed NOT sciences, for the following reasons:
    * archeology: archeology is a historic discipline trying to find out what happened in the
    past. The reason historic disciplines can’t be science is because there is only one past,
    and you can’t experiment with it. Any scientific hypothesis “If Britain had sought support
    from France, the U.S. would not be independent today.” cannot be tested because
    we can’t wind back time and try out another outcome. However, the scientific method,
    hypothesis building based on experimental attempts to refute them, and then merging
    them into cohesive predictive theories,
    * forensics: like archeology, forensics is basically only a support discipline for criminology,
    and both are technical disciplines, not sciences: their objective is to get something
    done rather than the pursuit of knowledge.
    Criminologists/forensics want to solve crimes. (technology)
    Medics want to heal humans. (technology)
    In contrast, scientists want to understand the world. (pursuit of knowledge)
    Mathematicians also want to understand the world, but they do not use the
    scientific method, as mathematics is not an experimental discipline either: it deduces
    from axioms (first principles) instead of inducing from experimental data (as physics
    Forensics also can’t experiment with the past and therefore not test hypotheses,
    so it’s very much like doing “archeology of one particular crime.”
    Science, in contrast, is interested in universals: gravity, mass, ….
    * designs that look intelligent to one entity can look non-intelligent to another. For
    example, in your “alien search” example, would I assume extraterrestrial life from
    receiving a signal that can be interpreted as a prime number sequence from outer
    space? No. Personally, I would look for a simpler explanation (before pulsars were
    discovered to be the source of regular signals, some people thought there was
    intelligent life behind it as well, mistakenly as it turns out). I would be very excited
    to get to know about life in outer space, but it’s just so much more likely there is
    a simpler cause or a prank behind any “signal”…
    So what objective (inter personally verifiable) test can you offer whether a design
    must be classified as “intelligent”?

    Jochen L. Leidner, M.A. M.Phil. Ph.D.
    Senior Scientist

    • Jonathan Anderson says:

      Dr. Leidner,

      Would you say that archaeology and forensics are reliable studies? If so, would it not matter that they are not scientific studies, and still be valid evidences for Shlemon’s point?