Thought about ID and Methodological Naturalism

One of the main objections that is often mounted against the idea that the inference to intelligent design is a valid scientific inference–in terms of an inference for a historical science–is that inferring design violates the long-held scientific principle of methodological naturalism, and yet not only is it the case that the principle of methodological naturalism is indeed an extremely questionable principle in and of itself, but it is also the case that anyone with half a brain can see that inferring that something was designed does not, in and of itself, violate the principle that we must consider that this design was natural in origin; now a further philosophical argument might show that the best explanation for that design is supernatural in orientation, but that is a philosophical extrapolation of the inference to design, not the scientific inference to design itself, and so, in light of this, there is nothing about a design inference that violates the principle of methodological naturalism (after all, consider, for example, that if the SETI people received a signal from space that included the first 100 prime numbers, they would be right to infer design, and they would be doing methodologically natural science in inferring so, but the further extrapolation that the signal came from aliens rather than angels (or vis versa) would be a philosophical inference to the best explanation rather than a strict scientific one, and so again, a simple inference to design as such in no way goes against methodological naturalism).


One thought on “Thought about ID and Methodological Naturalism

  1. Identifying design isn’t easy.
    You have to understand the goals of a system.
    And how different features are adapted to the purpose.
    The argument of imperfect design may be better than Intelligent Design, and for many reasons, not least the inefficiencies in biology.

    Who am I to evaluate that a system is inefficient? Well, I am a human. I am as capable of asserting that a system is efficient as I am inefficient. If you think a system is efficient you must be able to say what you think the goal is. If you don’t know the goal you cannot know the efficiency of the system.

    And this is the most common argument against Creatio–Intelligent Design: it’s advocates assume efficient design and then select elegant looking systems. They opt out of looking into the laryngeal nerve or vestigial skeletal structures.

    And that’s before you put Intelligent Design in a direct and evidential competition with evolution.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s