Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design has two key arguments:

  1. Evolution is not enough to explain the biological and chemical complexity found in living beings.
  2. A reasonable hypothesis is that life was created by some “intelligence.”

The first argument has been addressed by a number of people, but it seems like the second argument has been largely dismissed since (just like Creationism or the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory) it doesn’t have predictive power and thus is a gut-feel rhetorical argument rather than a scientific theory. I think it should be dismissed on those grounds when it comes to science classes, but what surprises me is how silly the rhetorical argument is as well.

Consider: Intelligent Design claims that life is so complex that it must have been designed by an intelligence, even though:

  • The best known example of intelligence, namely man, is still woefully incapable of producing such a complex system.
  • When it comes to “designing” a biological system, the way we humans perform anything more major than a simple tweak is by evolving the new traits, be it by breeding dogs or in a petrie dish.
  • There’s not even agreement on what the word “intelligence” means beyond the fact that (most) humans posses the trait.

Given these rhetorical holes, I have to wonder whether the real reason Intelligent Design proponents feel something so complex must have been designed by an intelligence is because emotionally they’ve already assumed the reverse, namely that any system able to produce something so complex must in its own right be intelligent.

If so, then in a way Intelligent Design proponents are correct: there is an intelligence that designed life. That intelligence is the distributed system of naturally occurring patterns of reproduction, natural selection and genetic drift that we call evolution.