The Centre for Intelligent Design has a rather amusing page in which they somewhat hopefully set out their stall for Intelligent Design to be classified as a scientific endeavour. They make use of historical figures such as Galileo, Wegener and Semmelweis to illustrate a claim that those who threaten the Scientific Consensus are given short shrift.
It’s rather amusing to hear from a group of Christians that Galileo’s problems lay with threatening the scientific consensus. There’s a rather concise overview of Galileo’s problems over heliocentrism at Wikipedia. Essentially the Catholic Church didn’t much care for scientists such as Galileo and Copernicus making observations that contradicted the beliefs of Bronze Age goat herders that were recorded in the Bible. It’s hard to see this as being at odds with the “scientific consensus”, particularly as science itself as a profession was very much in its infancy – a more appropriate message is that those with a belief in ancient superstition don’t like to see those beliefs challenged. A bit like those professing a belief in a supernatural designer objecting to experimental observations demonstrating a natural explanation for the diversity of life, I’d suggest.
Moving on to the case of Semmelweis, who advocated in 1847 that washing hands would help prevent spread of puerperal fever in maternity wards, I would suggest that his failure to succeed in promoting the practice may well have been due to (a) social mores of the times and (b) the lack of any real explanation of why this practice should work. Recall that the germ theory of infection was still some way in the future.
Wegener is much lauded as a transformative and visionary scientist who came up with the theory of continental drift. This was unfortunately not taken terribly seriously until the 1950s, when a clearer understanding of how the Earth’s crust behaved could explain drift. Remember that Wegener could only point to observations that continents could loosely be lined up like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Now, let’s turn to evolution by natural selection. We have observations of deep historical time, of fossil records clearly showing morphological change with time, of molecular data clearly showing the relationships between taxa, we have genetic mechanisms of inheritance, all coupled with copious evidence of natural selection (and of course genetic drift). Where, then is the problem? Theory, mechanism, observation – all present and correct.
So, what’s the basis that ID should be considered science? ID proponents seem to make arguments from disbelief. They cannot comprehend (or do not wish to comprehend) how the diversity of life can have appeared through natural means, and feel the need to invoke a supernatural entity to explain it.
I ask the ID proponents: what is the evidence for a designer? And personal disbelief in evolutionary biology’s explanations does not count as evidence. How would I design an experiment to demonstrate the existence of a designer? What predictions does ID make that may be tested?
The Centre for Intelligent Design concludes its article with this statement:
The Centre for Intelligent Design seeks to promote the scientific data with inference to the best explanation but recognises that there will be those who seek to avoid interacting with the actual arguments while hiding became claims of consensus.
I say, show me experimental evidence that supports the existence of a designer.
Incidentally, I note the lack of a comment facility at the CfID page – this does seem to be frequently the case for religiously motivated sites.