Over on the Panda's Thumb, ID critic Steve Reuland outlines the basic positions of ID. Since none of his assertions would help someone to understand my views, I thought I would answer the various questions he poses.
Age of the Earth. According to Reuland, the ID position is, "We don't know. And besides, it's really not ripe for debate yet."
My reply: The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. However, this is not an answer that is provided by my ID investigation, as detecting signals of design amidst biotic reality does not provide the type of information necessary to make this judgment. The data for such dating come from fields independent of any ID investigation.
What was created/designed? According to Reuland, the ID position is, "Some feature(s) of the universe, including but not limited to living things, although it's not clear which feature(s) of living things were actually designed."
My reply: The working hypothesis is that the first life forms to appear on this planet were designed and such design has helped to shape subsequent evolution. The objective is to put some flesh on this hypothesis and a) better describe the first life forms and b) better define the manner in which their design has influenced evolution.
Who was the creator/designer? According to Reuland, the ID position is, "Some unknown and unknowable "intelligence", which we coincidentally happen to believe is God of the Bible."
My reply: All I can propose about the identity of the designer is that it is an agent with a human-like intelligence. I propose this because I find it unlikely that we could ever detect design/teleos from an entity that thought in ways that are completely and totally different from our thinking process.
As for identifying the designer (the question posed by Reuland), I have addressed this before. Unless someone comes up with a methodology that allows us to reverse engineer the identity of a designer by using nothing more than the designed artifact, I don't see how it is proper, in an epistemic sense, to identify the designer as part of an investigation. One is certainly free to speculate about such things by drawing from considerations extrinsic to the investigation, but it is not the output or the necessary assumption of the investigation.
What was the mechanism of design? According to Reuland, the ID position is, "We don't know, but we know it can't be "natural", which implies divine intervention."
My reply: If we are talking about the outflow of design from the original design events, then the mechanism I propose is front-loading. I have currently been exploring the plausibility of such a mechanism and the results are encouraging. Ironically, the main complaint from critics of ID is that front-loading is "˜natural,' indicating that they demand some non-natural mechanism. When focusing on the original life forms, the mechanism is intelligent intervention. It is difficult to speculate here because of the limitations of our own understanding and technology. This point is made succinctly here. Further preliminary consideration is offered here. Suffice it to say that I will eventually have much more to say about this issue.
Evolution is"¦ According to Reuland, the ID position is, "The cause of most of society's ills."
My reply: No, I do not consider evolution to be the cause of most of society's ills. I would answer that evolution is a very powerful theory that has played a crucial role in helping us to make sense of much of biology.
Noah's Flood"¦ According to Reuland, the ID position is, "They'll ask, "˜What do you think of Noah's flood?' or something like that. Never bite on such questions because they'll lead you into a trackless wasteland and you'll never get out of it."
My reply: Noah's Flood is a story that is found in the Bible. If there is any historicity to the account, the flood would have been local.
Evolution and belief in God are"¦ According to Reuland, the ID position is, "Incompatible."
My reply: Evolution and belief in God are compatible. In fact, over the years, I have encountered several ID critics who argue that evolution and science itself lead to atheism. I have pointed out the problems with this view. What's odd is that I cannot recall an ID critic helping me out in any of these discussions.
Wants ideas taught in public schools? According to Reuland, the ID position is, "Yes. I mean no. I mean yes. I mean, look, we've been consistent and clear on this, so what's the problem?"
My reply: No, I do not think intelligent design should be taught in public schools. I have consistently taken this position and have explained my reasoning. However, I view the attempts to monkey with the science curricula in public schools to be more of a nuisance than some disastrous threat to science.
Do humans and apes share a common ancestor? According to Reuland, the ID position is, "Usually no. Occasionally yes."
My reply: Yes. The evidence for such a relationship is very strong.
Claims to have science on their side? According to Reuland, the ID position is, "Yes."
My reply: I do not consider ID to be science. But I do think that science has discovered many things over the last 25 years that have made ID and Front-Loading much more plausible than it was prior to these discoveries.
Why do scientists almost universally reject them? According to Reuland, the ID position is, "Because they're all a bunch of atheists, libruls, and ivory tower elitists who can't be trusted."
My reply: There are several reasons that interact synergistically.
First, scientists view ID as an extraordinary claim in need of extraordinary evidence. When asked about what type of data they would count as evidence for ID, they typically reply along the following lines: 1) Some proof that evolution is impossible or 2) A confirmed detection of the designer-in-action. Anything less than this is dismissed according to the second reason and third reasons.
Secondly, since more than 90% of scientists view the concept of ID as inherently religious while agreeing with Eugenie Scott that "science is restricted to explaining natural phenomena using only natural processes," clearly ID will be ruled out on a priori grounds. We've documented many examples on this blog where scientists hear "God" when presented with "ID." A beautiful case study of such behavior was recently illustrated for us here.
Thirdly, most scientists probably view ID exactly as Steve Reuland portrays it. That is, ID is supposed to equal creationism. But not just any ol' strain of creationism "“ a dishonest, virulent strain so toxic that is represents a bona fide Threat To Science.
Put simply, Reuland raises a sociological observation and there are plenty of sociological hypotheses to consider and test.