We have a treat for you today, dear reader. At the Discovery Institute’s’ creationist blog we found Answering an Objection: “You Can’t Measure Intelligent Design”, and it was written by Casey Luskin. When he recently returned to the Discoveroids, we wrote Casey Is Back — O the Joy! Casey was given the grandiose title of Associate Director of their Center for Science and Culture — i.e., their creationism operations. Here are some excerpts from his post, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Former director of the anti-ID National Center for Science Education Eugenie Scott used to say that without a hypothetical device she called a “theo-meter,” she did not know how to detect if God was at work. Even some scientists who are sympathetic to design arguments have wondered how we can detect design if we can’t “measure design like we measure the amount of some substance in a test tube.”
Ah yes, the design detector. That used to be a hot topic at the Discoveroids’ blog, and then it sort of faded. Perhaps that fading was helped by an old post of ours: The Curmudgeon’s Design Detector. Anyway, Casey is back on that topic. He says:
The answer to these objections is that we test intelligent design in the same way that we test all historical scientific theories: by looking in nature for known effects of the cause in question (in this case, intelligent agency), and showing that this cause (again, intelligent agency) is the best explanation for the observed data. [Ooooooooooooh! Their magic Designer is the best explanation!] If that answer seemed a little bit technical or unclear [Hee hee!], let me explain so that it makes more sense. We’ll see how precise quantitative measurements can in fact help us to detect design.
Casey has a method of precise quantitative measurement of Oogity Boogity? This should be good! He tells us:
Historical scientists who study fields like geology, evolutionary biology, cosmology, or intelligent design can’t put history into a test tube. They can’t measure what happened in the past like we might directly chemically measure the amount of some substance in a solution in the present. That doesn’t mean we can’t use scientific methods to study the past. It just means we have to use different methods in the historical sciences (which study what happened in the past) than we use in the empirical sciences (which study how things operate in the present). To claim that intelligent design isn’t science because we can’t directly “measure it in a test tube” is to misunderstand how historical sciences work, and to apply an unfair standard to intelligent design.
Yeah, yeah — but we’re still waiting to see how we can measure Oogity Boogity. Casey continues:
Historical sciences (like Darwinian evolution and intelligent design) rely on the principle of uniformitarianism, which holds that “the present is the key to the past.” Under this methodology, scientists study causes at work in the present-day world in order, as the famous early geologist Charles Lyell put it, to explain “the former changes of the Earth’s surface” by reference “to causes now in operation.”
Casey keeps including intelligent design in his lists of actual sciences — but that doesn’t actually make it a science. Let’s read on:
The theory of intelligent design employs scientific methods commonly used by other historical sciences to conclude that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. [Groan!]
For example, mathematician and philosopher William Dembski observes that “[t]he principal characteristic of intelligent agency is directed contingency, or what we call choice.” According to Dembski, when an intelligent agent acts, “it chooses from a range of competing possibilities” to create some complex and specified event. Thus, the type of information that reliably indicates intelligent design is called “specified complexity” or “complex and specified information,” “CSI” for short.
Groan. Casey is repeating stuff from the Discoveroids’ ancient past — like this from nine years ago: Casey Defines “Complex and Specified Information”. Because it’s all repetitious blather, we’ll skip it and go to his final paragraph:
So it’s true we don’t directly “measure” intelligent design in a test tube. But we can use measurements and calculations to detect design. [Yeah, right!] If we calculate and measure that a structure contains more CSI than can arise by the relevant probabilistic resources available for a naturalistic origin of the structure, and we know from experience that intelligent agency produces precisely such CSI-rich features, then we can detect design.
If that didn’t make you throw up, it’s only because we omitted an ark-load of Casey’s earlier text. If you think that he just might have something worth your serious consideration, then click over there and read it all. Carefully. Then get back here and give us your opinion. We’ll keep an open mind.
Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.