Murphy’s Law: Any Objections to ID that can go wrong, will go wrong

Michael Francisco

Bob Murphy at, a prominent libertarian website, examines many of the common objections to ID and finds them unpersuasive in Typical Objections to Intelligent Design.
Murphy takes the role of argument analyzer and examines the common objections of credibility, lack of peer-reviewed publications, ID as not scientific, and accusations that ID is an argument from ignorance.
After analyzing these common arguments, Murphy finds that “the ID people are on to something, while the proponents of Darwinian evolution are missing the point.”

Murphy tackles the oft-repeated argument that during the Dover trial Michael Behe “was forced to admit on the stand that Intelligent Design had the same scientific validity as astrology.” He continues,

“If you heard that at the time, weren’t you surprised? I know I was. Funny thing is, if you go to the actual transcript (use your Find feature to look for “astrology” and then back up a few sentences to get the context), you’ll see that the typical description is very misleading indeed. . . . Behe was explaining why he thought ID was a scientific theory (and hence, why it could be taught in a public school while not violating the separation of church and state). To put it very loosely, Behe said that a scientific theory explains numerous observations about the natural world by reference to some unifying principle, and that this indeed is what ID does in biology. . . . Of course the lawyer pounced and asked Behe if astrology would count as a scientific theory under this definition, to which Behe replied “yes.” Now, Behe isn’t an idiot, at least when it comes to publicity, right? He knew full well why that question was being asked, and he knew his admission would be splashed all over the newspapers. So if he were truly intellectually dishonest, why wouldn’t he dodge the question?”

No Peer-Reviewed Publications
Murphy looks at the argument that ID has no peer-reviewed publications as exactly what would be expected since most scientists are evolutionists. Furthermore, Murphy believes that ID is a young theory, and will develop peer-reviewed publications in the future.

“Anyway, I make the following, falsifiable prediction: Within ten years, there will be a journal dedicated to Intelligent Design, publishing articles in not only biochemistry but geology, mathematics, and physics. Outsiders may scoff at the pseudoscience hoodwinking the nation’s faithful, but it will be a journal with referees.”

Actually, Murphy’s prediction is already being fulfilled with publications like PCID (Progress in Complexity, Information and Design), which is the journal of ISCID (International Society of Complexity, Information and Design). This electronic journal “s a quarterly, cross-disciplinary, online journal that investigates complex systems apart from external programmatic constraints like materialism, naturalism, or reductionism,” according to the journal’s main page. PCID has an editorial board including William Dembski. Add to this the long list of ID related peer-reviewed work and Murphy’s point is even stronger.
ID is not Scientific
Murphy examines some of Dembski’s writings about forensics and how detecting design makes sense as science.
In my view, Dembski’s methods for inferring design are very empirical. You observe that intelligent agents are the source of specified complexity in our common experience, and then you find specified complexity in nature to infer design. Some people might not like this argument, but there’s no denying the fact that it isn’t based on faith or some “spirituality.” Detecting design is an empirical argument that uses observations, hypothesis, and experimentation, all tools that fit well in the scientific method.
Argument from Ignorance
This argument used to critique ID could be called the “god of the gaps” objection. Murphy makes a great analogy to mathematics:

“But let’s change the discussion to any field other than biology, and see how puny this defense now sounds. Mathematician A offers a conjecture, and Mathematician B says, “I don’t see how you can get that result.” Mathematician A responds, “Your lack of imagination isn’t a strike against my theorem.”
What’s ironic is that the neo-Darwinists themselves use just this argument all the time, albeit to attack creationism. They will point to some odd quirk of biology and then demand, “Why in the world would an intelligent God design it that way??”

Murphy finds these common objections to ID un-persuasive. This is a good example of how ID fairs well when arguments are analyzed fairly from people who have not prejudged themselves against intelligent design.