Reuland on Lack of ID Research

Fellow PT contributor Steve Reuland has a follow up on my two posts about the recent DI excuses for the utter lack of research on intelligent design. He makes the very important point that not only has there been no such research, there has been no suggestion of how it might even hypothetically be conducted. I'll post a long excerpt after the fold:

It's not even all that important for the DI or for any group of ID supporters to actually get their hands wet performing bench research. What really matters in this game is that you've got ideas for research, that your so-called theory serves as a conduit for building a research program and leading to new knowledge. Scientists have to look at your claims and be able to think of ways to test them using novel experiments, and then hopefully use their preliminary results to guide further research. That's the first necessary step to fomenting a scientific revolution. It takes a lot more than that of course, but this is the bare minimum requirement for even doing science.

The most telling thing, therefore, isn't that the DI has failed to set-up labs or churn out papers (assuming we're not dumb enough to believe that it's all being done in secret and will come pouring forth any day now). The most telling thing is that they can't even tell us what an ID research program is supposed to look like. It is not the least bit clear what kind of research one would even do under an "intelligent design" paradigm. Heck, if they would just tell me, I'd do the experiments for them. What they really need are research proposals, the kinds of things expected of grad students before they start their dissertation work. This makes things even easier on the Discovery Institute, because proposals don't cost any money beyond paying someone's salary. And there's also no need to worry about "persecution", as if that were a rational concern to begin with.

An excellent point. He also recalls an earlier situation that I should have remembered when writing my post. Last December, the NY Times reported (see my post on the subject from then) that the Templeton Foundation had explicitly asked the DI to propose such research and offered to fund it, but that they couldn't come up with any proposals:

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

"They never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

"From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said.

The Templeton Foundation would jump at the chance to fund this research, but no one has yet come up with any way it can be tested. It's important to remember that during the Dover trial, ID advocate Scott Minnich admitted under cross examination that concepts like irreducible complexity, even if they could be tested, are tests of evolution, not of ID.

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As far as I can see, the only way to prove ID is to find the designer, or his/her/its design notes. Given that these are not present on Earth, this means that they must be out in the universe somewhere (or maybe in the one next door). In short, ID crowd should be generating funding for space exploration, and (hopefully) volunteering to go as well. Thus we might actually get something useful out of their wasted money, and we may even be able to get rid of them as well.

They can only come up with a research programme when they drop their hilarious insistence that ID doesn't say anything about the nature of the designer, the design process or the instantiation of the design. These are the things that a research programme would be testing, after all. But they can't drop that insistence because then they'd either have to admit that the designer is God, or allow special creation to be falsified. And they can't do that.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 10 Oct 2006 #permalink

From your quotation of St eve:

What they really need are research proposals, the kinds of things expected of grad students before they start their dissertation work.

Hell, I require research project proposals from undergraduates in my evo modeling seminar.