Is there intelligence out there?
Today I was listening to Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable podcast and during the conversation between Jonathan McLatchie and Corey Markum, Markum raised the claim that humans were “pattern-recognizing creatures,” and offered an evolutionary account of this idea. While the claim makes for a nice just-so story that fits into the evolutionary paradigm, as several others, such as Tim Stratton, have pointed out, such a scenario does not show how rationality could develop. Moreover, there is no reason to argue an equally plausible just-so story that humans are “religious-truth-denying” creatures. After all, just as the fact that humans have the rational capacity to recognize patterns, and to infer explanations from them does not tell us whether those patterns are really what we think they are, likewise, the impulse to reject religious claims does not tell us they are false.
Sorry, you have reached your bag limit for Red Herring
Frankly, in the context of a debate on the design inference, raising the “pattern-recognizing creature” line is meaningless at best, and question-begging at worst. When ID proponents point to evidence in nature of design, and the Darwinist plays the “pattern recognition” card to explain it away, why does this not also apply to the neo-Darwinian hypothesis? For whatever reason, humans have the capacity to recognize patterns and draw inferences from them. The only difference between ID and the Darwinist is the philosophical presuppositions.
Method to their madness
Scientists operate on a principle known as methodological naturalism (MN). On MN, the scientist operates on the assumption that some feature of the natural world under investigation will have a natural cause. This is all well and good, until it becomes a science-stopper. After all, several scientific disciplines diverge from this approach by necessity. Fornesics, archaeology, and SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) are three such disciplines. Markum’s claim to the contrary, these disciplines do not presuppose intelligent agency as a cause, but intelligent agency is a live option. They investigate sets of evidence to see if they have a natural or intelligent cause. However, since MN is often conflated with metaphysical naturalism, intelligent causes are not considered a possibility. On Metaphysical Naturalism, the natural world is all that exists. This a philosophical approach to science, not a scientific approach to the data.
The bottom line is that those who support Intelligent Design theory simply note that the natural world contains evidence of the activity of an intelligent agent. While the evidence they present can be used to support the Design Argument for the existence of God, ID and the Design Argument are not the same thing. Those who are skeptical of ID should deal with it on its merits instead of trying to confuse the issue by accusing ID proponents of trying to sneak religion into science.