[From The Design Matrix, pp. 130-131]
Astronomer Carl Sagan popularized the following rule: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."18 Surely, the notion that life was intelligently designed is an extraordinary claim. Such evidence as the genetic code, the existence of molecular machines, and a necessary reliance on teleological language and concepts in the biological sciences, do not constitute "extraordinary evidence." Sagan's maxim would then demand that the design hypothesis must be dismissed and abandoned. Yet Sagan's maxim does not fit within the Explanatory Continuum. It is something that better fits the Traditional Template, where Sagan, the skeptic, needs something compelling and unambiguous to cause a perspective shift in his mind before he could abandon the non-teleological perspective and embrace the teleological perspective, all in one step. The flaw in Sagan's maxim is that an extraordinary claim is simply a claim about an extraordinary event and the occurrence of an extraordinary event does not necessarily entail that it would come with extraordinary evidence. The fingerprints of an extraordinary event may produce only mundane or subtle clues.
In his book, Finding Darwin's God, biologist Ken Miller notes:
"Fortunately, in scientific terms, if there is a God, He has left Himself plenty of material to work with. To pick just one example, the indeterminate nature of quantum events would allow a clever and subtle God to influence events in ways that are profound, but scientifically undetectable to us. Those events could include the appearance of mutations, the activation of individual neurons in the brain, and even the survival of individual cells and organisms affected by the chance processes of radioactive decay. Chaos theory emphasizes the fact that enormous changes in physical systems can be brought about by unimaginably small changes in initial conditions; and this, too, could serve as an undetectable amplifier of divine action."
Miller's position is indeed reasonable and is echoed by many theologians and theistic evolutionists. If such a God were to subtly manipulate or design natural history in this manner, the evidence for such extraordinary events would certainly be nonexistent.
Sagan and Miller are good examples of opposing but extreme perspectives on the ability to detect design. From these differing perspectives, the evidence for Intelligent Design is either supposed to remain undetectable or it is supposed to be so obvious that the natural world screams, "Design!" However, the actual evidence for design may exist in such a way that neither expectation will be satisfied, meaning that both extremes of perspective ensure that the Rabbit remains neglected. If the Rabbit is supposed to scream, it will be dismissed unless we all hear it screaming. If the Rabbit is supposed to be invisible, the Duck is the only thing to see. Since there is plenty of room between silence and screaming, perhaps we should explore within this middle ground if we are to assess suspicions of Intelligent Design. The fingerprints of design may be subtle, rather than extraordinary, but not so subtle that they are invisible.