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Common Questions: 5
Is ID not just a religious response to Darwinian evolution?

Intelligent Design holds (ID) that certain features of the natural and living worlds are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. This position is based on the accepted methods of design detection, an approach used, for example, in areas such as forensic science and in archaeology.

We recognise design in, say, an object if it has a low probability of having arisen by natural processes or by chance, and also if the object in question has been specified elsewhere, say in a diagram or in computer software which is independent of the object itself.

Another example is that, if we find an intelligible message written on a piece of paper, we know that it did not come about by the random splattering of ink on paper, and we understand it conveys a message which arose in the mind of the writer. In short, then, design requires both low probability and high specificity.

Normally, we don’t stop to think about these matters when we encounter the myriad of designed objects which fill our lives. Design is also an intuitive phenomenon to us.

When we study the integrated complexity of the systems in the living cell, including the digitally coded genetic information carried in DNA, the most obvious conclusion is that we are looking at highly ordered and intricately specified systems. The inference to the best explanation is that these are designed systems. The alternative explanation that they somehow self-assembled by chance and without direction is not remotely credible.

The labelling of Intelligent Design as a religious position misunderstands its highly credible scientific basis in design theory. The fact that ID has profound philosophical and religious implications should not be used to mistake it as a religious proposition.

It is the case therefore that, if ID is scientifically sound as we argue it is, it poses a formidable scientific challenge to Darwinism which is built essentially on the proposition that random and purposeless processes can produce the vast complexity of living things. On this fundamental point, they cannot both be correct.


For Further Reading

The Design of Life, Dembski and Wells, Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 2008

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