Monday, February 07, 2005

Behe in the NYT on Intelligent Design

Writing in today's New York Times, Michael Behe--professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University, senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, and author of the bestseller Darwin's Black Box--writes that he has found widespread confusion over what intelligent design is and is not.

First, he explains what the theory of intelligent design is not: it "is not a religiously based idea, even though devout people opposed to the teaching of evolution cite it in their arguments. . . . Rather, the contemporary argument for intelligent design is based on physical evidence and a straightforward application of logic. The argument for it consists of four linked claims." Two of the claims are accepted by virtually everyone; two of them are not. Here they are:

Claim #1: We can often recognize the effects of design in nature. (Uncontroversial.)

Claim #2: The physical marks of design are visible in aspects of biology. (Uncontroversial.)

Claim #3: We have no good explanation for the foundation of life that doesn't involve intelligence. (Controversial.)

Claim #4: In the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life. (Controversial.)

Good quote:

The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious.