"The Pseudoscience of Intelligent Design"

2 minute read

There is very nice article at Kuro5hin with that title. The article covers Paley's Argument from Design, Behe's work, the Avida computer simulations, and Popper's definition of science, among other things.

I'm always keeping my eye out for compelling visual illustrations of logical principles, and here's a quote I especially like, pertaining to the argument that our universe could not sustain life if its physical rules were not governed by a designer:

If one were to go fishing and catch 50 fish, all of which were more than ten inches long, one might reasonably make the hypothesis that all of the fish in the lake are more than ten inches long. Someone else might make another hypothesis, that only half the fish in the lake are more than ten inches long. It seems obvious that the first hypothesis is more likely. But what if, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the net being used to catch the fish had holes that prevented it from catching fish smaller than ten inches, and that the fisherman left it in the water until it had caught 50 fish? This new information must now be incorporated into the hypothesis, causing both to have a likelihood of one, thus preventing one from being more likely than the other.
This situation can be directly applied to the fine-tuned universe argument. It may seem on the surface that the likelihood of a universe in which all of the constants are right for life given an intelligent designer is much higher than the likelihood that the constants are right given random chance. When we add in the fact that we are here to observe the universe, however, we find that the likelihood of a fine-tuned universe is one either way. If we are here we must be in a universe which is tuned to our existence. The likelihood of a fine-tuned universe given that there is an intelligent designer and that we live in a fine tuned universe is equal to the likelihood that we live in a fined tuned universe given that it was created by random chance and that we live in a fine-tuned universe.

The article also has a long list of comments. Perhaps the best cross-section of comments is on the Slashdot discussion of the issue, which at last viewing had over 2000 comments. If you are interested in what sophisticated high school and college students are thinking about evolution and creationism, these comment lists give a pretty good idea of the highlights.