Why do Intelligent Designers Ignore the Basic Problem?

Why do intelligent designers ignore the basic problem of explaining the power and direction of the mechanism they invoke, a problem that strikes at the heart of their theory? Apparently, their preferred perspective faces a multitude of currently unsolved puzzles about the scope and direction of In- telligence. Yet, unlike their counterparts in other scientific ventures, they are reluctant to suggest their strategies for seeking solutions. Their reticence NOTES 1 Thomas Kuhn gives prominence to this difference in his important work, The Structure of Sci- entific Revolutions, 2nd ed.

2 Stephen Colbert, I Am America (And So Can You!)

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1. How does Kitcher explain the evolution of the human eye? Is this explana- tion adequate? Why or why not?

2. How does Kitcher explain the evolution of the bacterial flagellum? Is this explanation adequate? Why or why not?

3. How does Kitcher explain the evolution of the blood-clotting mechanism? Is this explanation adequate? Why or why not?

4. Are there other examples that Darwinian theory cannot explain?

5. Can intelligent design theory itself explain the examples that are supposed to cause trouble for Darwinian theories of evolution?

6. Is “intelligent design” a scientific theory? Why or why not?

7. In your opinion, should “intelligent design” be required (or allowed) to be taught in public high schools alongside evolution and natural selection as part of the science curriculum? Why or why not? (It might help to read Judge Jones’s opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.) provokes the charge that what they are doing is not science, but perhaps breaking their silence would be theologically unwise. Saying too much might disrupt the harmony between the sanitized version of intelligent de- sign elaborated in the classroom during the week and the richer account delivered from the pulpit on Sunday. Moreover, saying anything that would genuinely respond to the puzzles might be saying too much.

Yet, I suspect many people would simply reject the terms in which I have posed the problem. Friends of intelligent design would prefer not to talk about evolutionary transitions at all. So, they might say, the complex struc- tures are built from scratch. Intelligence is a creative force that replaces older types of organisms with new, individually designed species. Conceived in this way, intelligent design disavows Behe’s acceptance of descent with modification, drawing bars across the tree of life to mark the places of radi- cal discontinuity, of events of special creation. . . .

The real situation is that intelligent design-ers oscillate. . . . Yet however they wriggle, they find no satisfactory positive doctrine, no set of principles about Intelligence that can adequately account for the phenomena. This is why readers hunt through their literature seeking fragments of positive the- ory in vain. They won’t find it. Because to advance any such theory would expose the corpse of dead science.