Why “Intelligent Design” Isn’t

Was the title of a talk given by “Elliot George” to the Teesside Sceptics in the Pub last Thursday. I had done some homework beforehand and was expecting to be publishing some review. However it was so dire I can see little value in compiling my notes.

Before we even get to the content, it was marred (a) by talking to excruciatingly slow text-build slides, and (b) the speaker’s indulgence in deploying for the first time some very slow and unreliable new app to control the presentation from his iPhone that simply kept failing and resetting. So damn rude!

Content-wise it was sadly devoid of any actual knowledge. Fortunate that the audience was able to drive the subsequent “Q&A” as free dialogue.


Epistemological naivety. Truth / thinking / knowing / believing / trust / faith / authority / the nature of evidence & residual-uncertainties. Hypothesis / testable-assertion / theory / model. Any distinction between scientific knowledge and any other kind. (Julian Baggini anyone?)

Conflation of intelligence with perfection / optimisation. Conflation of creation / infinite-regress-first-cause with intelligence in evolutionary design. Conflation of design with designer. The idea that apart from a few evangelical extremists we need to defend evolution per se from god in 2017. The idea that a group of self-identified sceptics needed that particular history lesson. Couldn’t even get Jerry Coyne’s name right! The general conflation of all things “god” with everything else. The devil really needs to be in the details.

Totally dismissive (and/or ignorant) of any current scientific ideas around information theory, complexity and variety in physics, biological evolution and conscious intelligence.

[Many detailed notes on actual content.]

Scary idea that as a retired science teacher message aimed at 8-year olds. God help us. (Coincidentally and ironically I happen to be discussing the evolution of consciousness with my own retired physics teacher for U3A education.)

Coincidentally, though not in fact part of my homework for the above talk, the connection with Discovery Institute and George’s nemesis Jonathan McLatchie turned up in this recent post.

Also published on Medium.

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