Do People Believe Intelligent Design Just Because We Don’t Know the Actual Science Yet?

Meyer: Well, that’s – you’ve said the objection very well and I have a sometimes debating partner named Michael Shermer who raises this objection every time, in fact, I brought one of the quotes, that, a quote from Shermer in which he makes the objection.  He says something very similar, he says, “Intelligent Design argues that life is too specifically complex, that’s another way of talking about information, to have evolved by natural forces, therefore life must have been created by an Intelligent Designer”.  Let’s represent his argument logically and see what he’s saying.  He’s claiming that what we are saying is simply that we don’t know of a cause; therefore it must be intelligently designed.  We don’t know of a naturalistic process, which I represent on the slide with the symbol NP, that can produce the effect in question, which we present with the symbol E, since we don’t have a natural process that can produce the effect in question, therefore it must be this mysterious thing called Intelligent Design. But that’s not the way we’re arguing.  That’s not the way I’m arguing in Signature in the Cell.  My argument is that we don’t know of a natural process that can produce the effect in question, true that’s part of the argument, but we do know of a cause that’s capable of producing the effect in question. The effect in question again, is information, specified complexity, specific functional information.  We do know of a cause that can produce that, its intelligence, therefore, based on what we know, not what we don’t know, but what we know about the cause and effect structure of the world, intelligence is the best explanation for the origin of the information we see in DNA. It’s not an argument from ignorance, it’s an argument based on our present knowledge of the cause and effect structure of the world. So, he’s misrepresenting our argument in claiming it’s an argument from ignorance. And other people who say, well Intelligent Design is just a “God of the gaps” argument are making essentially the same claim. “God of the gaps” is another way of saying you’re arguing from ignorance. We’re not arguing from ignorance, we’re arguing based on what we know.  Imagine if you were talking about, if you’re an archeologist and you discovered the Rosetta stone, and you start analyzing all those inscriptions and you realize, hey this was produced by a scribe, this is information, it’s not just erosional marks from water and wind.  No one would say you had committed a scribe of the gaps fallacy. No, you’re making an inference to intelligence based on what we know only intelligence can produce. That only is information and so we would make that inference on any other realm of experience, and to claim that there’s something illicit about making it in biology is really special pleading.