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The Design Inference from Specified Complexity Defended by Scholars Outside the Intelligent Design Movement


Back to Article[1]. William A. Dembski, "Another Way to Detect Design?"

Back to Article[2]. Cf. William A. Dembski, "The Logical Underpinnings of Intelligent Design," in Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA, ed. William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 311-30; William A. Dembski, "Reinstating Design within Science," in Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, ed. John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2003), 403-17; William A. Dembski, "Naturalism and Design," in Naturalism: A Critical Analysis, ed. William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (London: Routledge, 2000).

Back to Article[3].  William A. Dembski, The Design Inference (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). Cf. Hugh Ross, review of The Design Inference, by William Dembski, Philosophia Christi 2 (2000): 142-4.

Back to Article[4]. Stephen C. Meyer, "Teleological Evolution: The Difference It Doesn't Make,"

Back to Article[5]. J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003), 356.

Back to Article[6]. Richard Dawkins affirms the scientific status of ID in The God Delusion: "The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question, even if it is not in practice-or not yet-a decided one. . . . The methods we should use to settle the matter . . . would be purely and entirely scientific methods" ([London: Bantam, 2006], 59). Cf. Michael J. Behe, "The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis," Philosophia Christi 3 (2001): 165-79;
Michael J. Behe, "Whether Intelligent Design Is Science,";
William A. Dembski, The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004);
William A. Dembski, "In Defence of Intelligent Design," in Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science, ed. Philip Clayton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 715-31;
Stephen C. Meyer, "The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design: The Methodological Equivalence of Naturalistic and Non-Naturalistic Origins Theories," in Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, ed. Michael J. Behe, William A. Dembski, and Stephen C. Meyer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999), 151-211;
Bradley Monton, "Is Intelligent Design Science? Dissecting the Dover Decision,";
Alvin Plantinga, "Whether ID Is Science Isn't Semantics,";
Alvin Plantinga, "Methodological Naturalism?" Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49 (1997): 143-54;
Del Ratzsche, Science and Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective (Leicester: Apollos, 2000);
David Tyler, "Is Design Part of Science?";
Peter S. Williams, "If SETI Is Science and UFOlogy Is Not, Which Is Intelligent Design Theory?";
Peter S. Williams, "The Definitional Critique of Intelligent Design Theory: Lessons from the Demise of Logical Positivism,"

Back to Article[7]. David K. DeWolf et al., Traipsing into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Decision (Seattle: Discovery Institute, 2006), 30.

Back to Article[8]. Cf. Francis J. Beckwith, Law, Darwinism, And Public Education (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003); Dembski, "In Defence of Intelligent Design"; Dembski, The Design Revolution; DeWolf et al., Traipsing into Evolution; Marcus Ross and Paul Nelson, "A Taxonomy of Teleology: Philip Johnson, the Intelligent Design Community and Young-Earth Creationism," in Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement, ed. William A. Dembski (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006).

Back to Article[9]. Although natural theology can build upon ID. See Beckwith, Law, Darwinism, And Public Education; Michael J. Behe, "Whether Intelligent Design Is Science"; Dembski, "In Defence of Intelligent Design"; DeWolf et al., Traipsing into Evolution; Casey Luskin, "Is Intelligent Design Theory Really an Argument for God?"

Back to Article[10]. Beckwith, Law, Darwinism, and Public Education, xiii.

Back to Article[11]. Marcus R. Ross, "Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism: Investigating Nested Hierarchies of Philosophy and Belief," That is, it is at least sometimes detectable.

Back to Article[12]. On cosmic fine-tuning, see William Lane Craig, "Review: The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Possibilities,";
William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnot-Armstrong, God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004);
Moreland and Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview;
Robert C. Koons, "Post-Agnostic Science: How Physics Is Reviving the Argument from Design,"

On the fine-tuning of our local cosmic habitat, see Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2004).

On the origin of life, see Dean Kenyon, The Origin of Life,;
Charles B. Thaxton, TheOrigin of Life 2,;
Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, and Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, 4th ed. (Addison, TX: Lewis and Stanley, 1992);
Stephen C. Meyer, "DNA and the Origin of Life: Information, Specification and Explanation," in Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, 223-85;
Stephen C. Meyer, "DNA by Design: An Inference to the Best Explanation for the Origin of Biological Information," Rhetoric and Public Affairs 1 (1999): 519-55;
Stephen C. Meyer, "Teleological Evolution: The Difference It Doesn't Make," in Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins, ed. Phillip E. Johnson, Denis O. Lamoureux et al. (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1999), 91-102;
Ø. A. Voie, "Biological Function and the Genetic Code Are Interdependent," Chaos, Solutions and Fractals 28 (2006): 1000-4.

On irreducibly complex biomolecular systems, see Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box, rev. ed. (London: The Free Press, 2006);
Michael J. Behe, "Design in the Details: The Origin of Biomolecular Machines," in Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, 287-302;
Behe, "The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis";
Behe, "Darwinism Gone Wild: Neither Sequence Similarity Nor Common Descent Address a Claim of Intelligent Design,";
Michael J. Behe and D. W. Snoke, "Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features that Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues," Protein Science 13 (2004): 2651-64;
William A. Dembski, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001);
Stephen Griffith, "Irreducible Complexity,";
Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, "Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits," Design and Nature 2: Comparing Design in Nature with Science and Engineering, ed. M. W. Collins and C. A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004), 395-304;
William A. Dembski, "Still Spinning Just Fine: A Response to Ken Miller,";
William A. Dembski, "Irreducible Complexity Revisited,";
Mike Gene, "Evolving the Bacterial Flagellum Through Mutation and Cooption," pts. 1-6,

On the Cambrian Explosion, see Stephen C. Meyer, "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117  (2004): 213-39;
Stephen C. Meyer, Marcus Ross, Paul Nelson, and Paul Chien, "The Cambrian Explosion: Biology's Big Bang," in Darwinism, Design, And Public Education, 323-402.

Back to Article[13]. Massimo Pigliucci, "The Provine-Scott Discussion at the RET: Methodological vs. Philosophical Naturalism,"; cf. Peter S. Williams, "Reviewing the Reviewers: Pigliucci et al. on ‘Darwin's Rotweiller and the Public Understanding of Science,'"

Back to Article[14]. Massimo Pigliucci, "Design Yes, Intelligent No," Darwinism, Design, And Public Education, 467.

Back to Article[15]. Behe, Darwin's Black Box, 39.

Back to Article[16]. William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge between Science and Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999), 149.

Back to Article[17]. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 6th ed. (1872; New York: New York University Press, 1988), 154.

Back to Article[18]. Richard Dawkins places the same bet when he acknowledges that Darwin's remark about systems that cannot be built gradually "is valid and very wise . . . his theory is indeed falsifiable . . . and he puts his finger on one way in which it might be falsified" ("Universal Darwinism," in The Philosophy of Biology, ed. David Hull and Michael Ruse [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998], 29.) However, he asserts that "not a single case is known to me of a complex organ that could not have been formed by numerous slight [unguided] modifications. I do not believe that such a case will ever be found" (The Blind Watchmaker [London: Penguin, 2006], 91.) Nevertheless, he concedes, "If it is-it'll have to be a really complex organ, and . . . you have to be sophisticated about what you mean by ‘slight'-I shall cease to believe in Darwinism" (The Blind Watchmaker, 91). In The God Delusion (London: Bantam, 2006) Dawkins writes, "Maybe there is something out there in nature that really does preclude, by its genuinely irreducible complexity, the smooth gradient of Mount Improbable . . . if genuinely irreducible complexity could be properly demonstrated, it would wreck Darwin's theory. Darwin himself said as much . . . genuine irreducible complexity would wreck Darwin's theory if it were ever found . . ." (125). Dawkins has a lot riding on the universal negative bet that nothing in nature is irreducibly complex.

Back to Article[19]. Richard Dawkins, "Darwin Triumphant," in A Devil's Chaplain (London: Phoenix, 2004), 86.

Back to Article[20]. Behe, Darwin's Black Box, 40.

Back to Article[21]. Michael J. Behe, "Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference,"

Back to Article[22]. Behe, Darwin's Black Box, 265-6. This point is also made by Robert C. Koons, "The Check Is in the Mail: Why Darwinism Fails to Inspire Confidence," in Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing, ed. William A. Dembski (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2004), 3-22.

Back to Article[23]. Pigliucci, "Design Yes, Intelligent No," 471.

Back to Article[24]. Ibid., 467.

Back to Article[25]. For a critique of Dawkins' views, see:
 Antony Latham, The Naked Emperor:Darwinism Exposed (London: Janus, 2005);
Alister E. McGrath, Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004);
Alister E. McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion (London: SPCK, 2007);
Keith Ward, God, Chance and Necessity (Oxford: OneWorld, 1996);
Keith Ward, Is Religion Dangerous? (Oxford: Lion, 2006);
Peter S. Williams, I Wish I Could Believe in Meaning: A Response to Nihilism (Southampton: Damaris, 2004);
Andrew Wilson, Deluded by Dawkins? A Christian Response to "The God Delusion" (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 2007);
William Lane Craig, "Richard Dawkins' Argument for Atheism in the God Delusion,";
Thomas Nagel, "The Fear of Religion," The New Republic Online,;
Alvin Plantinga, "The Dawkins Confusion," Books and Culture, March/April 2007,;
Richard Swinburne, "Response to Richard Dawkins's Criticisms in The God Delusion,";
Peter S. Williams, "Darwin's Rottweiler and the Public Understanding of Scientism,";
Peter S. Williams, "The Faith Based Dawkins,";
Peter S. Williams, "The God Delusion Deconstructed at Southampton University,";
 Peter S. Williams, "The Big Bad Wolf, Theism and the Foundations of Intelligent Design: A Review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion,";
 Peter S. Williams, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Dawkins' Failed Rebuttal of Natural Theology,"

Back to Article[26]. See Peter S. Williams, "The War on Science: How Horizon Got Intelligent Design Wrong,"

Back to Article[27]. Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable (London: Viking, 1996), 4.

Back to Article[28]. Ibid., 3.

Back to Article[29]. Ibid.

Back to Article[30]. Ibid.

Back to Article[31]. Ibid.

Back to Article[32]. Ibid.

Back to Article[33]. Ibid.

Back to Article[34]. Ibid.

Back to Article[35]. Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 9.

Back to Article[36]. Richard Dawkins, "Who Owns the Argument from Improbability?" Free Inquiry, October/November 2004, 11-12.

Back to Article[37]. Ibid.

Back to Article[38]. Ibid. Discussing SETI in The God Delusion, Dawkins notes: "It is a non-trivial question . . . what kind of signal would convince us of its intelligent origin . . . Metronomic rhythms can be generated by many non-intelligent phenomena. . . . Nothing simply rhythmic . . . would announce our intelligent presence to the waiting universe" (71). The regular, specified but uncomplicated pattern of a pulsar does not require an explanation in terms of design. Neither, of course, does the irregular, unspecified complexity of static. So what sort of signal would do the job? Dawkins notes: "Prime numbers are often mentioned as the recipe of choice, since it is difficult to think of a purely physical process that could generate them" (The God Delusion, 43). Hence Dawkins affirms that there is a type of pattern, in principle discoverable by empirical, scientific investigation, for which it is difficult to account in purely physical terms and which would rightly trigger a design inference; and this is clearly a pattern exhibiting CSI.

Back to Article[39]. Dawkins, "Who Owns the Argument from Improbability?" 11-12.

Back to Article[40]. Ibid.

Back to Article[41]. Ibid.

Back to Article[42]. Ibid.

Back to Article[43]. Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel, "Directed Panspermia," Icarus 19 (1973): 341-6.

Back to Article[44]. Francis Crick, Life Itself (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981).

Back to Article[45]. I do not share this assumption. See William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, eds., Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (London: Routledge, 2001); William Hasker, The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 1999); Angus J. Menuge, Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004); J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1987); Alvin Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function (Oxford University Press, 1993); Victor Reppert, C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003); Peter S. Williams, The Case for Angels (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2002); Peter S. Williams, I Wish I Could Believe in Meaning.

Back to Article[46]. See Peter S. Williams, "Raelians Successfully Clone Naturalism,"

Back to Article[47]. Dawkins, "Who Owns the Argument from Improbability?" 11-12.

Back to Article[48]. Cf. Edge: The World Question Centre, "What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?"

Back to Article[49]. Richard Dawkins, interview by Fi Glover, Broadcasting House, BBC Radio 4, January 9, 2005. Cf. Peter S. Williams, "The Faith Based Dawkins."

Back to Article[50]. Contra Dawkins on this point, see Alvin Plantinga, "The Dawkins Confusion"; Peter S. Williams, "The Big Bad Wolf, Theism and the Foundations of Intelligent Design."

Back to Article[51]. Behe, "The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis," 165.

Back to Article[52]. Cf. William A. Dembski, ‘Science and Design" First Things, October 1998,;  Dembski, "SETI and Intelligent Design," December 2, 2005,

Back to Article[53]. Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World (London: Headline, 1996), 47.

Back to Article[54]. Ibid.

Back to Article[55]. See David John Owen, "The Face on Mars,"

Back to Article[56]. Sagan, The Demon Haunted World, 56.

Back to Article[57]. Ibid., emphasis added.

Back to Article[58]. Ibid.

Back to Article[59]. Keith Ward, God, Faith, and The New Millennium (Oxford: OneWorld, 1999), 110.

Back to Article[60]. Ibid, 118-19.

Back to Article[61]. Ward advances the same sort of design argument in God, Chance and Necessity.

Back to Article[62]. Colin J. Humphreys, The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist's Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the Biblical Stories (London: Continuum, 2003), 339.

Back to Article[63]. Ibid.

Back to Article[64]. Ibid, 339-40.

Back to Article[65]. This is an example of CSI being applied within the field of historical apologetics. Another example would be arguments from fulfilled biblical prophecy. Gregory Koukl draws this parallel in his article "Prophecy and People: Both Designed to Fit," See also John A. Bloom, "Is Fulfilled Prophecy of Value for Scholarly Apologetics?",;  Robert C. Newman, "Fulfilled Prophecy as Miracle," in In Defence of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God's Action in History, ed. R. Douglas Geivett and Gary R. Habermas (Leicester: Apollos, 1997); Robert C. Newman, "On Fulfilled Prophecy as Miracle" Philosophia Christi 3 (2001): 63-7; Hugh Ross, "Fulfilled Prophecy: Evidence for the Reliability of the Bible,"

Back to Article[66]. See Denis Alexander, "Creation and Evolution: Hot Issues for the Twenty-First Century,";
Peter S. Williams, "Theistic Evolution and Intelligent Design in Dialogue,";
Denis Alexander, "Designs on Science,";
Peter S. Williams, "Intelligent Designs on Science: A Surreply to Denis Alexander's Critique of Intelligent Design Theory,"

Back to Article[67]. Denis Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix (Oxford: Lion, 2001), 448.

Back to Article[68]. Norman L. Geisler, Miracles and the Modern Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), 79-80, quoted in Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix, 448.

Back to Article[69]. See Norman Geisler and Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001), chapter 6, "Questions about the Origin of Life."

Back to Article[70]. Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix, 421-2.

Back to Article[71]. William Lane Craig, "Barrow and Tipler on the Anthropic Principle vs Divine Design," British Journal of the Philosophy of Science 39 (1988): 389-95, quoted in Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix, 420.

Back to Article[72]. Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix, 421.

Back to Article[73]. Ibid.

Back to Article[74]. Ibid., 422.

Back to Article[75]. Ibid., 424.

Back to Article[76]. Ibid.

Back to Article[77]. Geisler, Miracles and the Modern Mind, 80, quoted in Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix, 448.

Back to Article[78]. Denis Alexander, "Beyond Belief? Science and Religion in the 21st Century," Southampton University, May 8, 2006.

Back to Article[79]. Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997), 114.

Back to Article[80]. Cf. J. P. Moreland, Christianity and the Nature of Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1989); J. P. Moreland, "Is Science a Threat or Help to Faith?"

Back to Article[81]. Basil Mitchell, The Justification of Religious Belief (London: Macmillan, 1973), 8.

Back to Article[82]. William A. Dembski, "Skepticism's Prospects for Unseating Intelligent Design,"

Back to Article[83]. Cf. the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research group (PEAR),

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