Is Intelligent Design Ongoing?



In my conversations with Intelligent Design (ID) supporters and in reading ID literature it has been suggested that one ways of disproving ID is to observe the evolution of irreducibly complex systems or complex specified information in the lab.

The implication of this test for ID is that the designer is no longer designing. It is implied by some ID supporters that the mutations we observe in the lab are unguided. Dr. Behe, for example, uses the observed mutation rates and patterns to define what evolution can and can’t do, and he then uses these limits as a means of detecting ID. This often takes the form of adaptations that require several neutral mutations before becoming beneficial.

If all the mutations we observe in the modern age are unguided then has the designer stopped designing? If the designer is still active and ID is ongoing, then shouldn’t we see things like irreducibly complex systems and complex specified information emerging in mutating populations in the lab and in the wild?


Intelligent Design and Common Descent
(Neil Rickert) #2

So God is dead!

This seems consistent with what we have been hearing all along from evolutionary biologists.

I’ll suggest that this has been the mistake, all along, by ID proponents (including Behe). They are looking in the wrong place for intelligence.

They want to see intelligence show up in giving a direction to mutations. But the proper place to look is in the trial and error testing of those mutations – the pragmatic testing to see what actually works.


Thought provoking. Nice. I don’t think ID says that Darwinian evolution cannot happen, but that it is limited in what it can do. Whether that sort of evolution is “unguided” is a good question.

It’s so interesting how so much ties in together in a somewhat ambiguous mesh. Some people accept evolution within kinds or within some sort of limits. Are they speaking of Darwinian evolution? Unguided evolution?

I personally think it is all “guided” which is one reason I am in fact circumspect when it comes to what I say about ID. I don’t know how to distinguish guided from unguided.


The “standard” view is probably that God is “resting” from his labors. Creating universes and their contents is tiring work. :slight_smile:

Yes. Trial and error is a time tested method of designing.

(Retired Minister) #5

Is Intelligent Design Ongoing?

I don’t know if ID is ongoing. But ENV is certainly relentless.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #6

I’d say the only valid scientific position is settled (strong) agnosticism. We don’t know nor do we have a way of finding out.


I think we may both agree that ID is much more of a metaphysical or theological question than it is a scientific one. Like you, I don’t see how we could scientifically determine if mutations happening in real time are guided or unguided.


I guess we could talk about whether or not mutations are purposeful. So we have purposeful mutations and mutations without purpose. Bu that seems to be just a case of replacing one term with another without means to tell the difference. For all I know every mutation has a purpose, but who knows how long it might take though for that purpose to become evident.

Given the current information we have, and lacking complete information, what can we say? I lean towards the “I don’t know” end of the spectrum.


The preferred response in scientific circles is, “I don’t know”. However, ID supporters claim they do know and have the science to back it up, so their responses could be illuminating.


It’s not clear from your comment what it is that ID supporters claim that they know. We were talking about mutations. ID supporters say they know whether mutations are guided and purposeful or not and that they have the science to back that up?


They claim that unguided mutations can not produce complex specified information. They claim that they can measure CSI scientifically, and that DNA in genomes contains CSI. That sounds like they are claiming they can scientifically detect guided mutations.


If I ever see an IDist making the claim that whether or not a mutation is guided can be detected by scientific methods I will make it a point to express my disagreement. :slight_smile:

ETA: Do you have an example of someone doing that on this board?


@colewd seems quite fond of the functional information argument.


As a means of changing the subject it seems to work for him. :slight_smile:

ETA: You’ve noticed, i hope, that I am not on that particular bandwagon?

(Dan Eastwood) #15

Ann Gauger just stated her opinion that only the historical signal of design is detectable. She does not expect to detect active design.


Behe has some interesting things to say on the topic of this thread:

This would seem to indicate that Intelligent Design is not ongoing. I guess it could be that Behe knows the mind of the intelligent creator and knows that no more designed mutations for a flagellum will occur . . . but maybe they are occurring elsewhere?

Time and again we see those who support ID consistently saying that we shouldn’t see intelligently designed mutations occurring in living organisms.