Is Intelligent Design a Valid Scientific Alternative to Evolution? Answers to Four Common Objections

Many scientists object to Intelligent Design as a valid scientific alternative to Evolution. Here are four of these objections and replies to them.

First, Intelligent Design is not scientific 

Intelligent Design is not a scientific alternative to Evolution because it leads to a “non-visible creator” which can’t be tested.

Reply:

Intelligent Design is a valid scientific alternative because it is observable, repeatable, and falsifiable. A couple of criteria to validate Intelligent Design are irreducible complexity and specified complexity. If one throws scribbles of alphabetical letters and they follow a sequence, then that is a complicated sequence, but if that sequence results in a comprehensible essay, then it is specified complexity that is much more probably the result of Intelligent Design than undirected processes.

In addition, Intelligent Design doesn’t have to point to one or many creators, visible or non visible. It simply points to design whenever we observe it, which is reasonable and correctly practiced in our everyday lives. 

______________________________________

Second, the world is too badly designed to be the result of any intelligent design. 

Many species go extinct, so how come it is intelligently designed?

Reply: 

This is a subjective opinion. Based on what is the world too badly designed? In any case, a malfunctioning car, while poorly designed, is still designed. Regardless of the quality of the design, the fact remains that it is designed.

Extinction of species is part of entropy, which is the natural law that applies to physics, chemistry and biology. The planets and stars will eventually cease to exist as they are bound by entropy. However, that doesn’t mean that their orbiting is not designed.

______________________________________

Third, we don’t know the purpose of many species, so they can’t be designed

For example, we don’t know why ants, flies, ..etc. exist. Therefore living things cannot be intelligently designed.

Reply:

This conclusion is logically incorrect. If we apply the same reasoning, we would conclude that many cars were not designed because we don’t know the purpose of some of the buttons inside the car! Of course these cars were designed despite our lack of understanding of the purpose of some buttons or functionalities within the car. Therefore, our lack of understanding of the purpose of some species doesn’t mean that they were not designed.

______________________________________

Fourth, a designer is not bound by the constraint of producing a nested hierarchy of traits, which is evidenced by the theory of evolution. So it is unreasonable to conclude Intelligent Design given the gradual evolution – i.e. nested hierarchy of traits – that we see from the fossil record and DNA similarities among living things.

Reply:

The fossil record is not perfect so we can’t really know that all living organisms have evolved so gradually. In fact, the fossil record does not always support gradual evolution, which is a condition stressed by Darwin and recently confirmed by Dawkins. For instance, the Cambrian Explosion is similar to walking 80 yards of a 100 yard football field with bacteria, and all of a sudden in the 81st yard you find animals.

From a design perspective, even though car designers have the choice to be original in their designs, they always make multiple varieties of the same design with minor tweaks. We actually see gradual distribution of traits among car makers (to follow the same example used before). For instance, a standard range Tesla Model 3 is similar to long range Model 3 but with lower battery range. All Teslas more or less follow the same design theme. 

While the nested hierarchy of traits can support evolution, it doesn’t preclude design either. Originality of a designer is a viable option but not a constraint, and as previously mentioned in the cars example, we see it always the case that designers follow the same design “theme” for their products.

In conclusion, Intelligent Design is a valid scientific hypothesis. It can be objectively evaluated and tested.

Coptic Apologetics