You’ve seen it before, many times over. An academic tosses off a dismissive reference to intelligent design that vaguely sounds like the ID you’re familiar with, and you wonder, “Has this individual actually taken the time to familiarize himself with the debate pitting design theory against Darwinist materialism?”
A case in point is Professor of Energy and the Environment Saleem H. Ali, in his recent book from Oxford University Press, Earthly Order: How Natural Laws Define Human Life. He throws a typically dismissive remark in there, and podcast host Justin Brierley had the inspired idea of inviting Professor Ali on his show, Unbelievable?, to talk with ID scholar and philosopher of science Stephen Meyer. Dr. Ali agreed to come on, and kudos to him for that. Their topic: “Where does order in nature come from?”
Who Edited That?
Here’s what Ali wrote in his book:
Emergent natural order of molecular transition from chemistry to biology rests on the key success of this chemical upscaling and therein lies the major contestation between proponents of nature’s “bottom-up order” proposed by Darwinists and the “top-down order” proposed by the proponents of “intelligent design.” The latter group, championed by controversial think tanks such as the “Discovery Institute,” often end their argument with the molecular improbability of chemical upscaling. The “intelligent design” proponents try to differentiate themselves from the “creationists” by noting that they are not presuming theological origin but rather considering a process-of-elimination approach to scientifically plausible alternatives.
The first thing you wonder is, “Who edited that?” Why all the scare quotes around intelligent design, and even “Discovery Institute”? Indeed, Dr. Ali’s comments in his discussion with Meyer and Brierley are a little bit of a word salad, but never mind. He was braver than most critics of intelligent design for talking face-to-face with Dr. Meyer or any other ID proponent. See what you think of the argument, or rather “contestation,” as Saleem Ali might put it: