on March 2, 2007
One can make a good living going against the mainstream. Sometimes the minority is indeed right, but other times the minority is a minority because everyone else is right. The publishers of the Politically Incorrect Guides are reaping the rewards of giving the minority voices an outlet. Other Guides enable important overlooked facts to reach the general public, but this Guide enables an Argument from Incredulity to reach the general public.
Because that is what this is, a defense of Intelligent Design against Evolutionary Theory.
Ultimately this book comes down to Wells saying "I cannot believe this happened on it's own, so it must have been the work of a designer." That is not a scientific argument. The most ironic thing about this book is that Intelligent Design - by necessity - accepts evolution, just not the Theory of Evolution. The ultimate difference between Intelligent Design and the Theory of Evolution is that one of them posits natural causes and the other posits active intelligence for the exact same event. Homo Sapiens evolving from Australopiticus Afarensis? One says it happened by Random Mutation and Natural Selection, the other says it happened because a designer caused the mutations. Call it "Designed Mutation" and "Designed Selection", it still has Common Descent! There is no contradiction with the data (which Wells turns to and away from whenever he thinks it helps his argument), just the cause of the data. Did this mutation happen naturally or because of a designer? This is not talked about among Intelligent Design supporters.
What exactly is Wells defending? Well, there are several arguments made in favor of Intelligent Design, and none of them hold up under much closer examination. First is the argument of Irreducible Complexity - that if we could find any system wherein all the parts are fully necessary and NONE of those parts have other uses, then you have an Irreducibly Complex system. That is true, except for all the searching not a single Irreducibly complex system has been found. It's not even true that complexity implies design, as per a snowflake.
What of the argument of Methodological Naturalism? Methodological Naturalism insists that if you cannot find a natural explanation, then you cannot explain the event observed - nothing less, nothing more. A scientists who cannot find a natural explanation will write "I cannot find a natural explanation" and that will be the end of that note and the beginning of more investigations. Objecting to Methodological Naturalism is objecting to the basic process of attempting to find out, and attempting to find out is exactly what science is.
Does that mean that evolutionary theory is linked to atheism? Not at all, there is no atheist agenda to promote evolution, evolution is no more in conflict with theology any more than science as a whole of science is, and the two are not in conflict. The reviewer who discussed an "atheist utopia on earth" was not talking about anything that is happening in the real world ... which is ironic because that is what the "Darwinists" are accused. I do fail to see what "Right" versus "Left" have to do with the debate, as another reviewer commented with "humanists/Christianphobic Left and the Religious Right". Such comments make no sense to me, as I fail to see how Natural Selection, Random Mutation, and Common Descent have anything to do with politics.
Wells critiqued the lack of fossil evidence. What lack of fossil evidence? It is true that only a small percentage of deceased animals fossilize, but there have been so many animals that the lack of evidence has not been a problem. Or there are the few items that were actual frauds, as revealed by scientists, such as the fameous Piltdown Man. The reason scientists distrusted it from the very start is because they weren't allowed to investigate it, and before the fraud was revealed it was already distrusted and ultimately disregarded. After scientists were allowed to investigate it, it became the creationists favorite fossil. Yes, there are frauds, but the fraudulent status of Piltdown has had exactly what impact on Australopiticus Africanus? None, really. The moths? That's not even an actual fraud.
As I wrote, this book is ultimately ironic, as it is a division between Random Mutation and Designed Mutation, between Natural Selection and Designed Selection, preserving Common Descent. Many people who praise this book would not be so praiseful if it was understood that this does not contradict evolution, only the Theory of Evolution. What Intelligent Design does, and its sole contribution to the debate is to introduce a designer who might or might not be a deity. It doesn't have to be a deity, say the advocates of Intelligent Design, and therefore Intelligent Design can be a theory.
True, it doesn't have to be a deity. It could be aliens. Of course, these aliens were either designed by a deity, designed by other aliens, or evolved on their own. If they evolved on their own, there goes the whole purpose of Intelligent Design. If designed by other aliens, it's turtles all the way down until you get to the undesigned intelligent alien. If it is a deity, there go the claims to being not religious. Then again, even if it were designed by deity, it could still be scientific - if there were any evidence that it was designed by deity. If you can come up with something truly unexplainable, there you have your proof - the irreducably complex system for example. ID could be testable, if we could find something that tests as truly unexplainable. So far we have not. There is no evidence for design.
Then there is the trump card of ID, that the intelligent designer did not leave evidence of design. THAT is truly untestable, no matter what arguments Wells and other Intelligent Design advocate might marshal against it, and THAT is what makes Intelligent Design a religious position, and THAT is what makes Intelligent Design akin to full fledged Creationism.
No evidence can be marshalled for or against any religious proposition, and no evidence can be marshalled for or against the idea of an undetectable designer.
Intelligent Design is not the same as creationism, but it is similar in that both are religious instead of scientific.
Occasionally some ID proponent does make a claim that is scientifically testable. "See, we found an irreducably complex system." Unfortunately for Intelligent Design, the tests show it is not irreducably complex, making ID "theory" a testable theory in the same sense as Phlogiston, another disproven theory.
Finally, what is a "Darwinist"?