One of the criticisms I’m regularly seeing in discussions of evolution is that those who claim that life shows signs of intelligent design are relying on a “god of the gaps” argument. The charge is that where they cannot explain how something happened, they’re just answering “God,” without any further intellectual curiosity or explanatory possibilities. In fact, I’ve heard several skeptics call it “Intelligent Design of the gaps.”
But it occurs to me that if something shows signs of being designed by an intelligent mind, and a skeptic says that such an explanation doesn’t count, what he means is that intelligence isn’t a thing. Intelligence doesn’t have explanatory power. You can’t point to something and say that it’s obviously the work of an intelligent mind. If that’s true, the skeptic of intelligent design must literally be saying that intelligence doesn’t, in and of itself, exist. There must be something behind the appearance of intelligence which isn’t itself intelligence. The skeptic literally won’t stop looking until he’s found something unintelligent.
It’s a little bit difficult to give credence to an idea being forwarded by someone who from the outset dismisses things that look intelligent.
My sense for how our design points us towards a designer is in my book Hardwired: Finding the God You Already Know.
3 thoughts on “Unintelligent by Design”
The reason intelligent design is dismissed is that (in science) it’s not empirically testable, ie cannot be used to make successful or repeated predictions, and (in philosophy) not only have sooooooo many things been attributed to divine agency that it turns out were the result of blind forces, and not only is it an argument from ignorance, but as you even say, just saying “god did it” offers no new infomation. Imagine if an atheist said “it just happened” and demanded to be presented with his nobel prize for “discovering” the secrets to the origins of everything. That is what creationists/ID proponents are doing when they say “a being we don’t understand did things we don’t understand by means we know nothing about, see, we’ve solved it!” Their nonsense answer is just more convoluted, but it contains exactly as much specific, verifiable information.
You could call their argument: ‘Intelligence by Dismissal.’
There you go again…clouding the issue with logic. And intelligence.