I just finished reading William Dembski's 1999 Intelligent Design manifesto entitled Intelligent Design: the Bridge Between Science & Theology. On the back cover a Rob Koons, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas acclaims this work stating, "William Dembski is the Isaac Newton of information theory, and since this is the Age of Information, that makes Dembski one of the most important thinkers of our time…" Dembski echoes this idea throughout the book as he presents himself and the other fledging design theorists (he lists Behe, Wells, Meyer, and Nelson) as the architects of a post-naturalistic science, a science that is liberated from the "intellectual pathology" (p. 120) and "idolatry" (p. 99) of methodological naturalism.
Dembski states, "Although design theorists take the question Which is correct, naturalistic evolution or intelligent design? as a perfectly legitimate question, it is not treated as a legitimate question by the Darwinian establishment" (p. 117). Throughout this work Dembski asserts that "the empirical evidence is in fact weak" (p. 119) for biological evolution. Apparently he assumes that his readers will agree with this assumption. Ironically, even Behe advocate of Intelligent Design (ID) that he is, accepts biological evolution as a fact despite his dispute over the mechanisms. Science does not so much as seek "correctness" as it does utility. Which theory, naturalistic evolution or ID is more robust or more capable of producing fruitful venues of research? Which theory has provided the best framework for answers? Design theory went the way of the Neaderthal in the late 1800's because it failed to provide robust research venues, it failed to make predictions, and it failed to provide frameworks to interpret field findings.
Dembski posits that "design theorists" are capable of asking which model is "correct." As already stated above, this question has been settled. However, the "design theorist" is incapable of asking this question honestly because she is committed to a metaphysical dogma called "creation." Because the "design theorist" believes in creation and in a creator she is limited in her outcomes. She could accept naturalistic evolution by recognizing the non-overlapping nature of faith and reason, yet she does not. She limits her findings to the horizons of her dogma.
Dembski argues that the majority of the American population is against naturalistic evolution. He states,
According to a 1993 Gallup poll, close to 50% of Americans are creationists of a stricter sort, thinking that God specially created human beings; another 40% believe in some form of God-guided evolution; and only 10% are full-blooded Darwinists. It's this 10%, however, that controls the academy (p. 117).
Somehow, Dembski seems to imply, science is directed by democratic vote. He should know better than to argue this way. This statement suggests the he is trying to manipulate his creationist and/or Christian readers into an emotional response to assert their might to make right. Scary thought…
Dembski claims that ID has "no prior religious commitments." He asserts that the religious neutrality of ID is what makes it scientific and different than "scientific creationism" (p. 247). However, Dembski plays his cards earlier; displaying that there are religiously metaphysical boundaries to the religions than can be served by his ID feign "religious neutrality." For example, he categorizes Hinduism as a form of "religious naturalism" (p. 101) for the manner in which it makes its deities subservient to the laws of nature and not outside of the same. He asserts that any form of naturalism leads to idolatry (p. 101), and he defines idolatry in a strictly biblical sense (p. 99). How is ID to be considered religiously neutral when it makes formulates its metaphysics based on the Bible to the exclusion of non-biblical religions?
Despite Dembski's education, he does not seem to be aware of the basic principles of natural selection. He treats "design" in nature as though any sort of naturalistic causation is unreasonable and mathematically impossible. What he so conveniently ignores and fails to mention is that natural selection selects "design." Because of natural selection it is now understood that "design" no longer requires a "designer."