Heddle on the Falsifiability of ID
David Heddle, mentioned in the previous post, likes to argue that the sorts of cosmological ID theories discussed in the last post are falsifiable. In a May 24 blog entry Heddle wrote:
I am in the cosmological ID camp. As you are probably aware, cosmological ID theory is based on two observations about our universe: its fine tuning and its uniqueness. Take either support beam away, and the cosmological ID house falls down.
If there is no fine tuning, then there is no evidence for design.
If our universe is not unique, i.e., if we are but one of perhaps an infinite number of parallel universes, then one can logically posit that our particular universe is fine-tuned only because if it were not, we wouldn't be here to talk about it. The multitude of universes, those that are not fine tuned, being sterile, contain no intelligence pondering why they exist in an ordinary, run of the mill cosmos.
Since there is active research in these areas, cosmological ID is falsifiable.
Here's Heddle from a June 8 blog entry, criticizing this book review by physicist William Jeffreys:
He then goes on to argue that assuming the multiverse hypothesis is correct, once again disingenuously implying that actual evidence exists (this “evidence”, permit me to repeat, being that multiple universes is a prediction—and he conveniently neglects to mention that it is an untestable prediction) then, surprise surprise, Gonzalez and Richards are wrong. (Emphasis Added)
Pretty blatant contradiction, don't you think?
More importantly, however, Heddle is wrong to suggest that the examples he gives show that cosmological ID is falsifiable. If it were conclusively shown either that fine-tuning is an illusion, or that there are multiple universes, the hypothesis of ID would not be falsified. Those discoveries would tell us nothing one way or the other about whether our universe is the work of ID.
What would be falsified by those discoveries is the assumption that cosmological fine-tuning requires a supernatural explanation. That's a very different thing.
Heddle has inadvertantly provided a good explanation of why ID is useless as a scientific principle. As Heddle implies, the argument in this context is never “We observe X. Therefore ID.” It is always “We observe X. There is no plausible naturalistic explanation for X. Therefore ID.”
The second premise of that argument could certainly be falsified. The conclusion of ID can not be. That is why for the working scientist there is no practical difference between “God did it,&rdquo and “We have no idea how this happened.”