Some Arguments from Judge Jones' Ruling in the Dover ID Case

Claim: Intelligent design is not science.


1. Science is necessarily committed to "methodological naturalism."

2. Methodological naturalism is the view that science may only use natural explanations, that is, ones that are based upon observation and experiment and are subject to test, verification and falsification.

3. Intelligent design posits supernatural causes and explanations.

4. Supernatural explanations cannot be based in observation and experiment and be testable. It is based in on ecclesiatical authority and on philosophical coherence.

Therefore, ID violates a principal methodological norm of science.

Remark: The ruling gives "supernatural" a methodological meaning--that which cannot be known by natural means. ID'ers definition is ontological. They distinguish materialistic from theistic and attach supernatural to theistic. To complete the argument the ruling needs to show that theistic explanations and causes cannot be known by natural means, contrary to the traditions of natural theology. ID'ers intend that observation of irreducible complexity is natural evidence of a designer.

Claim: The various arguments offered in favor of ID fail.

Argument: Demonstrated by listing and refuting them.

1. False dichotomy. The ID arguments seek to show failure of evolutionary theory by, for example, evolutionary theory's supposed failure to account for irreducible complexity. Such a failure does not support ID unless it can be shown that ID is on the only alternative, which it has not been shown.

2. Irreducible complexity does not entail failure of evolutionary theory.
(a) Irreducible complexity pertains to the failure of system to function if one of its parts are removed; but evolutionary theory deals with the reverse process, the coming together of the parts that yield the complex system.
(b) ID'ers ignore "exaptation," in which the system with the complex system with one missing missing component may server a quite different function and may be selected in evolutionary processes for that different function.

3. Irreducible complexity does not entail intelligent design.
(Remark: I'm not sure how this is argued; perhaps just 1. again?)

Claim: ID'ers have not demonstrated that there are irreducibly complex biological systems.

1. The ID literature offers three case studies: bacterial flagellum, blood clotting cascade and the immune system.
2. In each case, peer-reviewed science shows that these are not irreducibly complex.

Claim: ID'ers argument from design fails. (The argument from design asserts that an intelligent designer of biological systems can be inferred from purposeful organization of their parts.)

1. The argument from design depends essentially on an analogy to our inference of the existence of a designer for human artefacts.
2. There are important disanalogies between human artefacts and biological systems:
--human artefacts do not live and reproduce; and do not undergo genetic recombination; and are not subject to natural selection. (Remark: so another mechanism is possible for generation biological systems not available for human artefacts?). --in the case of human artefacts we know the identity and capacities of the human designer; ID'ers refuse all speculation on the identity and capacities of the biological designer.
3. These disanalogies are sufficient to defeat the argument.

Remark: Is the import that the design argument flatly fails? Or is it a matter of degree; it is a very weak argument? Test to distinguish the two cases: is there any observation whose content would be so favorable to the design argument such that we could overturn the disanalogies?

Claim: Evolutionary theory enjoys overwhelming scientific support.

Argument: Citation and naming of those who support it; allusion to others.

Claim: ID, through its text Pandas... distorts and misrepresents evolutionary theory.

Argument: Scientific testimony of examples.

John D. Norton
September 2006