ID is Not an Argument from Ignorance

by Barry Arrington

ID opponents sometimes attempt to dismiss ID theory as an “argument from ignorance.”  Their assertion goes something like this:

1.  ID consists of nothing more than the claim that undirected material forces are insufficient to account for either the irreducible complexity (IC) or the functionally specific complex information (FSCI) found in living things.

2.  This purely negative assertion is an invalid argument from ignorance.  As a matter of logic, they say, it is false to state that our present ignorance concerning how undirected material forces can account for either the IC or the FSCI found in living things (i.e., our “absence of evidence”), means no such evidence exists.  In other words, our present ignorance of a material cause of IC and FSCI is not evidence that no such cause exists.

This rejoinder to ID fails for at least two reasons.  First, ID is not, as its opponents suggest, a purely negative argument that material forces are insufficient to account for IC and FSCI.  At its root ID is an abductive conclusion (i.e., inference to best explanation) concerning the data.  This conclusion may be stated in summary as follows:

1.  Living things display IC and FSCI.

2.  Material forces have never been shown to produce IC and FSCI.

3.  Intelligent agents routinely produce IC and FSCI.

4.  Therefore, based on the evidence that we have in front of us, the best explanation for the presence of IC and FSCI in living things is that they are the result of acts of an intelligent agent.

The second reason the “argument from ignorance” objection fails is that the naysayers’ assertion that ID depends on an “absence of evidence” is simply false…


ID is Not an Argument from Ignorance | Uncommon Descent

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