"Big Questions" for ID
One of “Intelligent design’s” most voluble “theorists,” William Dembski, is fond of a dialectical device whereby he lays out a list of Big Questions intended to offer serious challenge to his target - usually evolution by way of random mutation and natural selection. Of course in these cases the problem perceived by Dembski invariably turns out to be based upon a misapprehension begotten of his ideological propensities. In other words, his supposedly difficult questions can, and have been, answered.
Turn about is fair play. In the course of observing the ID movement I have, at various junctures, run across what I believe are fundamental flaws in the logic of ID proponents. And it seems to me that these observations lend themselves quite nicely to the Big Question device. Additional motivation comes in the form of an event being held at Biola University on May 12 in which many of "intelligent design's" leading theorists will bare their chests to the pointed questions of the movement's "toughest critics."
Thus am I roused to emulate Dembski’s method (though hopefully not his dismal performance).
0th question - Nearly every prominent ID theorist has, at one time or another, expressed disatisfaction with methodological naturalism (MN), regarding it as unfairly restrictive of alternative explanations. Many, if not all, of those same theorists have stated categorically that ID methodology does not invoke supernatural agency. Please explain why an investigation of a non-supernatural designing agency would require the restructuring of scientific methodology (MN).
1 – For those who suggest “common design” as a reasonable explanation for common descent – hypothesize a biological datum that would falsify “common design.” Regarding this datum, please explain how you know the designer could not or would not design in such a fashion.
2 – Scientific investigation identifies a set of observations that require explanation, hypothesizes a causal agency for the observations, then tests the hypothesis. ID identifies the observations and hypothesizes the causal agency, but refuses to perform the actual science by testing the hypothesis. Name another science that operates in this fashion.
3 – Methodological naturalism is considered unfairly restrictive by ID proponents. Please suggest a method by which science could accommodate inference to the non-natural and remain operationally potent. In other words, explain how we can empirically establish a direct causal connection between natural phenomena and non-natural agency.
4 – Many proponents of ID include cosmological phenomena as evidence of design. Please suggest a class of cosmological “designer” which would not contradict the ID movements’ long running repudiation of necessary inference to the supernatural (religion).
5 – ID proponents insist that we need know nothing of the designer in discussing design. Hypothesize an example of a scientific inference to intelligent design that can be made without any knowledge of the designer. Describe this “design” using arguments that neither directly nor indirectly suggest methods, motives or the nature of the designer.
6a – If ID can be viewed as a reasonable inference in the case of a lack of natural explanations, why do we not do the same for all other cases of incomplete inquiry?
6b – If an ID inference is arrived at as the result of a methodology which eliminates natural processes, how does the ID theorist justify the presumption that this methodology is comprehensive enough to allow him to discount any possible natural explanation?
This list is neither offered as comprehensive nor assumed to be rhetorically bulletproof. I welcome comments from both sides of the aisle and fully expect to revise and extend these remarks.