When I started this site, I had been struck by the remarkable symmetry between the objections raised by ID proponents to evolution, and the objections raised by ID opponents to ID – both “sides” seemed to think that the other side was motivated by fear of breaking ranks; fear of institutional expulsion; fear of facing up to the consequences of finding themselves mistaken; not understanding the other’s position adequately; blinkered by what they want, ideologically, to be true, etc. Insulting characterisations are hurled freely in both directions. Those symmetries remain, as does the purpose of this site, which is to try to drill past those symmetrical prejudices to reach the mother-lode of genuine difference.
But two asymmetries now stand out to me:
The first is that ID proponents seem most of the time to be arguing against a claim made by very few (not even Dawkins) – that science shows that there is no Designer. Science does so such thing. Even if scientists were to show, convincingly, a step by step account of life’s history from “mud to man”, we would be in no position to say that life was undesigned. Scientific findings do not show that “materialism is true”. They cannot. Such a conclusion is outside scientific methodology.
But ID proponents go further than this – they argue that because science cannot conclude that there is no designer, that we are entitled to conclude that there is. And so the first asymmetry is this:
- ID proponents claim that current scientific explanations are inadequate, therefore ID. They make no testable hypotheses about the nature of the designer, and consider it outside their domain of enquiry.
- ID opponents agree that scientific explanations are inadequate, and that a Designer is perfectly possible. They provide copious testable hypotheses for postulated non-design processes, and iteratively test them, rejecting some, retaining others, and leading, step by step, to an ever-more detailed picture.
The second asymmetry is this:
- ID proponents dislike engaging with ID opponents; they readily bar people from their forums, and disable comments.
- ID opponents are positively eager to engage with ID proponents, following them to ID websites, and inviting them to their own.
I suggest that an uncommitted observer, blind to the content of the arguments, might conclude that ID proponents are making the stronger claim, with the weaker case.