Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"...the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose"

A recent NY Times Op-Ed by Michael J. Behe outlines his ideas behind the "theory" of intelligent design. I don't find any of his arguments persuasive. Behe lays out four claims behind the argument for intelligent design. The first two claims, namely that "we can often recognize the effects of design in nature" and that "the physical marks of design are visible in aspects of biology", are "uncontroversial", according to Behe. I don't find them uncontroversial at all. A letter in today's paper echoes my sentiments:

The basic principle of intelligent design is that life is just too complicated to occur by chance, and thus there must be some intelligent entity guiding the process.
A much more likely explanation is that our inability to comprehend these phenomena that appear "designed" merely reflects our own limitations as a species.

A further likely explanation is that subjective concepts such as "design" and "complexity" are not quantifiable. The "I know it when I see it" test, while perhaps useful in identifying porn, is not a scientific test. The point is that precisely because our own intuition sometimes fails us, we have to rely on the scientific method to objectively find the answer; we can too easily fool ourselves. Another recent opinion found in Reason also takes issue with Behe, who seems to have nothing new to say.


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