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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 77, Issue 4, Fall 2003

Ryan Nichols
Pages 591-611

Scientific Content, Testability, and the Vacuity of Intelligent Design Theory

Proponents of intelligent design theory seek to ground a scientific research program that appeals to teleology within the context of biological explanation. As such, intelligent design theory must contain principles to guide researchers. I argue for a disjunction: either Dembski’s ID theory lacks content, or it succumbs to the methodological problems associated with creation science—problems that Dembski explicitly attempts to avoid. The only concept of a designer permitted by Dembski’s explanatory filter is too weak to give the sorts of explanations which we are entitled to expect from those sciences, such as archeology, that use effect-to-cause reasoning. The new spin put upon ID theory—that it is best construed as a “metascientific hypothesis”—fails for roughly the same reason.