I’m going to let ENV readers in on a little secret: When many of us in the intelligent design (ID) movement read the arguments coming from our critics, we’re surprised at their low quality and style. We don’t rejoice at this — we’d much rather see a robust, civil, and fruitful scientific debate over the relevant questions. But the incivility, basic inaccuracy, and unserious tone characteristic of so many criticisms of ID all make you wonder: If the critics had stronger rebuttals to offer, wouldn’t we be hearing them?
To be sure, there are some serious scientific critics of ID out there. These critics should be praised for their civil scientific rebuttals, and rewarded with a serious and civil response. And in fact that’s what they get from ID advocates. Doug Axe’s recent reply to biochemist Arthur Hunt is a good example. Another noteworthy instance is the book Signature of Controversy, which collects scientific responses to a number of critics (some critics who were civil, some not so much) of Signature in the Cell. I’d like to think my recent exchange with Dennis Venema also meets this standard.
But the fact remains that most critiques of ID look more like attempts to dismiss ID’s arguments than to engage them. In particular, many critics try to dismiss ID by harping on alleged religious associations with ID, while ignoring ID’s scientific merits, accomplishments, and arguments. Like a boxer who wants to win a match on a technicality without ever hitting his opponent, some critics want to win the debate without having one. Fortunately, that style doesn’t usually appeal to anyone who’s actually out there seeking truth. In fact, whether or not such a rebuttal style appeals to you is a good indicator of whether you really are seeking the truth.