Posted by PvM on June 5, 2005 08:09 PM

People have been wondering why critics of ID consider Intelligent Design to be scientifically vacuous.

Nichols wrote:

Proponents of Intelligent Design theory seek to ground a scientific research program that appeals to teleology within the context of biological explanation. As such, Intelligent Design theory must contain principles to guide researchers. I argue for a disjunction: either Dembski’s ID theory lacks content, or it succumbs to the methodological problems associated with creation science-problems that Dembski explicitly attempts to avoid. The only concept of a designer permitted by Dembski’s Explanatory Filter is too weak to give the sorts of explanations which we are entitled to expect from those sciences, such as archeology, that use effect-to-cause reasoning. The new spin put upon ID theory-that it is best construed as a ‘metascientific hypothesis’-fails for roughly the same reason.

  R. Nichols, Scientific content, testability, and the vacuity of Intelligent Design theory The American Catholic philosophical quarterly , 2003 , vol. 77 , no 4 , pp. 591 - 611

One need not look far to find supporting evidence as to why.

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.

William A. Dembski Organisms using GAs vs. Organisms being built by GAs thread at ISCID 18. September 2002

On the one hand ID proponents complain that sufficiently detailed pathways are lacking when it comes to Darwinian theory but when pressed for similar details for their explanations, ID proponents suddenly seem to be very reluctant, in fact not just reluctant but unable to support their claims.

Since Intelligent Design is typically inferred based on an argument from ignorance, it is unable to provide any positive evidence or even explanation of its own beyond ‘poof’.

The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design has become ‘the albatros around ID’s neck’. Not surprisingly, ID through the Center for the renewal of science and culture, argues that ID papers have been published. On closer scrutiny, it quickly becomes self evident that the papers, other than professing ignorance, have little to contribute to either science and intelligent design. Wells has published a paper in which he argues that because of his assumption of ‘design’ he was able to make predictions. The conflation of the usefulness of ID to formulate hypothesis (in fact the same hypotheses could have easily been formulated from a non design perspective) are conflated with the issue of Intelligent Design.

Desperate? Well, given the position in which ID has to defend itself in court, such inflation of achievements is not surprising. What it does show is how vacuous intelligent design really is when it comes to science.