1. Introduction Ryan Nichols, in his paper, “Scientific Content, Testability, and the Vacuity of Intelligent Design Theory,” argues that Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) does not have content due its lack of support and failure to promote further scientific inquiry. I will argue in this paper that his conclusion is false, and that IDT does promote further scientific inquiry and receives support from other theories . 2. Nichols’s Argument Formalized 1. If IDT does not have confirmation from other theories, and does not give rise to new principles or propositions, then IDT has no content.
2. The part of IDT that appeals to intelligent design is not confirmed by other theories and does not give rise to new principles or propositions. 3. Therefore, the part of IDT that appeals to intelligent design has no content. From this formalization, it is clear that Premise 2 is the premise in question. I will explain why IDT is more likely to give rise to new theories than Darwinism and give several examples of IDT proponents having done so, therefore proving that IDT does indeed have content. 3. Why IDT is More Fruitful than Darwinism
Intelligent Design Theory is more fruitful than Darwinism because proponents of IDT are more likely to search for functions in systems, since it seems that an intelligent designer would not give a system parts which do not have functions, and IDT proponents have successfully given rise to new theories and propositions, especially regarding vestigial organs and Junk DNA. Darwinists embrace the view of that complex systems are merely a result of unguided, uncaused random mutations paired with natural selection.
Their view includes a denial of the tions are 1) Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) which leads them to be unable to attribute purpose to organ systems, but only functions, as purpose would imply that they were placed there for a reason. As such, I will no longer speak of purpose, but function. Not unreasonably, this leads to the belief that, organ systems in modern man which apparently have no function are mere remnants of systems in primitive man which once benefited their survival but now no longer do.
Such systems which have been theorized to no longer have functions a Junk DNA, which was supposed to have been all the excess garbage DNA from those random mutations that would not benefit the survival of man, and 2) vestigial organs and other vestigial systems. The Darwinist is not interested in additional scientific research because these systems are dismissed as mere products of non-beneficial mutations. Conversely, IDT proponents are much more inclined to search for functions in systems because they envision an intelligent designer, while a logical Darwinist dismisses seemingly useless systems without further research.
As the prominent Darwinist, Kenneth R. Miller wrote, “If the DNA of a human being or any other organism resembled a carefully constructed computer program, with neatly arranged and logically structured modules each written to fulfill a specific function, the evidence of intelligent design would be overwhelming. ” An intelligent designer would not include parts without function in his designs. Thus, each complex system in the world would have a function.
Scientists who promote IDT are then more likely to search for function in complex systems, like Junk DNA and vestigial organs, in order to support their theory, and they have successfully conducted studies which demonstrate this to be such, namely, that Junk DNA and vestigial systems have functions. So, if Darwinian evolution were true, we should expect to find plenty of functionless DNA and organs that were conserved from past mutations. What we do find, rather, is tremendous complexity and function in DNA, which is “like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software ever created. ”
Recent scientific inquiry has found that all the “Junk DNA” in our systems really is not junk as the Darwinists have claimed; rather, this DNA is found to have increasing functionality. DNA was formerly only thought to be of any use regarding protein synthesis and coding. Biologist and IDT proponent, Jonathan Wells, writes that “only about 1. 5% of human DNA codes for protein,” but also that “most organisms do transcribe most of their DNA into RNA. ” This DNA, not used for protein synthesis, that is being transcribed, has been discovered to have many additional functions in other systems throughout organisms.
One of these functions is “regulation of gene expression,” which means that these “non-protein-coding RNAs are involved in ‘controlling whether a gene is transcribed and to what extent. “‘ These RNAs are especially involved in “physiology and development” and are therefore responsible for many complexities in humans. Introns, for example, a non-proteincoding RNA, which are removed before protein synthesis occurs, is responsible for the coding of some of the protein-coding RNA, exons, in a process known as alternative splicing, such that “a single gene can give rise to hundreds or even thousands of different proteins.
This is crucial in the development of the human, especially in the earlier stages of human life, as these proteins are used to form different specific types of tissues for human development. Additional segments of DNA that do not code for protein, but resemble protein-coding DNA elsewhere (in the same organism or in other organisms) known as pseudogenes, also have important functions. About a fifth of these pseudogenes have been shown to have some function in coding proteins, contrary to prior belief.
More evidence hints that these RNAs transcribed from pseudogenes “perform essential functions in the cell. ” Moreover, function has been found in the segments of DNA most widely deemed useless, called repetitive DNA. The majority of repetitive DNA “falls into two classes: Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements (LINEs) and Short Interspersed Nuclear Elements (SINES). ” Female embryonic development depends on one of her X chromosomes to be inactivated. LINEs play a large role in this process.
LINES “produce a rearrangement in the chromatin that inactivates some genes,” and “RNAs transcribed from LINEs coat and silence other portions of the chromosome. ” These describe only some of the functions of that DNA which was called junk by Darwinists, but after research, was found to have several important functions in protein synthesis and human development. Also, Nichols and other Darwinists are mistaken that vestigial organs and systems in organisms have no function.
The spleen, for example, which was thought to be useless, possesses many functions in the immune system for many mammals. Scientists previously thought that the only source of monocytes (white blood cells that have immune system function) was the bone marrow, and that after monocytes were made they were merely stored in blood; however, after research, it was discovered that the spleen “contains ten times as many monocytes as the blood. ” The spleen is able to release these to increase immunity and especially to recover from heart attacks, which depends extensively on monocytes.
This study, using data they obtained from mice as well as a study from 1977 which “followed the health of World War Il veterans” concluded that men who did not have spleens were twice as likely to die from heart attacks or pneumonia, and they found the same results with the mice they tested. So, the spleen plays a great function in immunity for mammals, contrary to what Darwinists thought. Additionally, the appendix, which was thought to have no function, “is now known to be an important source of antibodyproducing blood cells and thus an integral part of the human immune system.
It also serves “as a compartment for beneficial bacteria that are needed for normal digestion. ” These are only a few examples of the “vestigial” structures and systems that were once thought to have no function, but after scientific research and inquiry, were proven to have very important functions. 4. Conclusion At the very least, the evidence I have put forward here serves to disprove the truth of Nichols’s Premise 2 and gives rise to a better conclusion, that IDT is supported by scientific inquiry and theories, therefore refuting his conclusion that IDT has no content.
Instead, IDT does have content, which is shown by the amount of evidence that supports it and the amount of scientific inquiry it has spurred. The true propositions (hypotheses) discovered by IDT as a metascientific hypothesis support it as a scientific hypothesis, as its findings are both further scientific research (principles and propositions) and evidence for design (support for IDT).
Doubting Darwinism and acknowledging the possibility of IDT has given us many scientific theories that we would not have had the knowledge to infer had we only accepted Darwinism as the main scientific theory. Therefore, IDT is definitely supported by other theories, and IDT has inspired new principles and/or propositions. Because of this, IDT does have content, and Nichols’s conclusion that IDT does not is false.