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What Got My Attention about Intelligent Design

Paul Nelson
Photo: William Dembski, via Discovery Institute.

What turned my head around about ID — in a good way — in 1991, well before I met Bill Dembski, was a single paragraph in one of his early papers.

He pointed out that design detection, far from being an esoteric and inscrutable inference, lay in fact at the center of many normal human inquiries and activities, such as:

  • intellectual property and copyright law
  • criminal detection of all types (e.g., arson investigation)
  • insurance investigation
  • archaeology and paleoanthropology
  • diagnostic logic trees in medicine (e.g., detecting Munchausen syndrome by proxy, where an illness is caused deliberately in a child)
  • cryptography and cryptanalysis

And so on. I never thought about design inferences the same way after that, and I gained tremendous confidence in the fundamental rationality of design reasoning.

Biology of course is the hot-button intelligent design inference, but that has nothing to do with the basic logic, and everything to do with the larger implications.

Paul Nelson

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Paul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.

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archaeologyarsonbiologycopyright lawcrimecryptanalysiscryptographyinferenceinsuranceintellectual propertyintelligent designlogicmedicineMunchausen by proxypaleoanthropologyWilliam Dembski