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Does Intelligent Design Make Predictions or Retrodictions?

Photo credit: Drew Beamer via Unsplash.

Editor’s note: We are delighted to present a series by geologist Casey Luskin on “The Positive Case for Intelligent Design.” This is the tenth entry in the series, a modified excerpt from the new book The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the CosmosFind the full series so far here.

Another potential objection to the positive case for intelligent design, outlined in this series, might be that we’re not making positive predictions for design, but rather, looking backwards to make after-the-fact retrodictions. With junk DNA, this is clearly not the case — ID proponents were predicting function years before biologists discovered those functions. The same could be said for the discovery of finely tuned CSI-rich biological sequences, something that design theory inspired scientists like Douglas Axe and Ann Gauger to investigate, and which they indeed have found.1 Winston Ewert’s dependency-graph model promises that ID can bear good fruit as we learn more about the gene sequences of organisms. Indeed, as we’ll see in an upcoming post, ID makes useful predictions that can guide future research in many scientific fields. 

What Happened When?

But I would argue that a chronology of exactly what was predicted when is not dispositive as to whether a positive argument can be made. The purpose of this series is to show that a positive case can be made for intelligent design, and what matters is that the predictions of ID flow naturally from observations about how intelligent agents operate, and that they successfully explain the observed data. This is what gives ID explanatory value to predict what we should find in nature. Exactly what happened when is less important than the raw explanatory power of intelligent design. 

Next, “Can Materialistic Models Accommodate the Scientific Data?”


  1. For example, see Axe, “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors”; Axe, “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds”; Michael J. Behe and David W. Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science 13 (2004), 2651-2664; Douglas D. Axe, “The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds,” BIO-Complexity 2010 (1); Gauger and Axe, “The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway”; Reeves et al., “Enzyme Families-Shared Evolutionary History or Shared Design? A Study of the GABA-Aminotransferase Family.”