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Intelligent Design and COVID-19: Take a Seat for This Criticism

Michael Egnor
Image: Fusion Medical Animation, via Unsplash.

I have been replying to criticisms of ID scientists by historian Adam Shapiro (see here and here). You had better take a seat for Shapiro’s next assertion:

.. there has been no indication that the government has looked to intelligent design research nor consulted any intelligent design–favoring scientists to address the pandemic… On May 4, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci gave an interview in which he stated: “A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it [the SARS-CoV-2 virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”

But, of course, every scientist who has addressed the question of design or no design in the COVID-19 virus has been doing intelligent design research. Anderson et al. (2020) used a benchmark for known specific methods of human bioengineering, compared the spike protein to that benchmark, and found that it fell short. Surely more work remains to be done, but if that wasnt ID reasoning, what is

These scientists are using the principle of fine-tuning to assess the viral genome for markers of complex specified information that could not be present without human intervention. All questions about the possibility of human-designed origin of COVID are intelligent design questions. And these scientists, who are doing excellent implicit design research, draw conclusions about the design of the virus based on the evidence to which they have access, which is considerably more than the limited evidence that, again as far as I am personally aware, the small cadre of explicit ID scientists have available to them. 

The Best Tradition of Intelligent Design

In keeping with the best tradition of intelligent design research, which comprises most biological research since antiquity, ID researchers are staying within the bounds of the evidence available to them. They refrain from drawing conclusions — scientific in form but political in nature — based on insufficient evidence. ID, Adam Shapiro thinks, could redeem itself as being “apolitical” precisely by playing politics with science. It is remarkable indeed that Dr. Shapiro — a historian of science — berates ID scientists for not reaching conclusions in the absence of adequate evidence — while he fails to recognize the mountain of intelligent design research being conducted on the origin of COVID-19 in leading laboratories all over the world.