Intelligent Design and Evolution

A few years ago I wrote (follow up here):

Suppose that you find a watch in the forest.  If you know there is
no watchmaker then the theory of evolution is a brilliant and
compelling explanation for the presence of complexity without design.
But suppose that you know a watchmaker exists then surely the simplest
and most compelling explanation is that the watchmaker made the watch.
Any other explanation, particularly one so improbable
as evolution would seem to be preposterous and beside the point.

Thus for someone who knows, really knows, that
god(s) exists (and there are many people who claim to know that god(s)
exists) then some form of creationism follows as a
rational deduction from the premises.  It’s no point telling these
people that creationism is unscientific because given the premise that god(s) exists creationism is scientific.
If god(s) exists then evolution is almost certainly false, if not in
every particular then surely in the grand claims of a undesigned

Not surprisingly the argument created a firestorm of opposition (see the many nasty comments on the two original posts).  Thus, I am quite pleased to see that renowned philosopher Thomas Nagel writing in Philosophy and Public Affairs has recently made the same argument.  Nagel writes:

What [Intelligent Design] does depend on is the assumption that the hypothesis of a designer makes sense and cannot be ruled out as impossible or assigned a vanishingly small probability in advance. Once it is assigned a significant prior probability, it becomes a serious candidate for support by empirical evidence, in particular empirical evidence against the sufficiency of standard evolutionary theory to account for the observational data…

…Judge Jones cited as a decisive reason for denying ID the status of science that Michael Behe, the chief scientific witness for the defense, acknowledged that the theory would be more plausible to someone who believed in God than to someone who did not. This is just common sense, however, and the opposite is just as true: evolutionary theory as a complete explanation of the development of life is more plausible to someone who does not believe in God than to someone who does.

Nagel has much more of interest to say about teaching science given that ID is scientific if one accepts belief in god. 

Hat tip to Robin Hanson’s post, Intelligent Design Honesty, at Overcoming Bias.


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