In the Dover decision, Judge Jones unwitting lays a trap for himself, and then spends a good part of the decision falling into it. On p. 64 of the decision, Jones gives three reasons for determining that ID is not science:
- It permits supernatural causation
- It assumes a "contrived dualism" in the argument for irreducible complexity
- Its negative arguments against evolution (like irreducible complexity) have "refuted by the scientific community"
It is in his statement of the second point where Jones sets himself up. He says that the argument for irreducible complexity is "central to ID". Otherwise, why would he include it in a discussion of whether ID is science? And, in reason 3., he also says it has been "refuted": in other words, falsified. But if the argument for irreducible complexity is, as Jones later determines, falsified, then ID is falsified, since irreducible complexity is "central to ID".
Accordingly, the purported positive argument for ID does not satisfy the ground rules of science which require testable hypotheses based upon natural explanations. (3:101-03 (Miller)). ID is reliant upon forces acting outside of the natural world, forces that we cannot see, replicate, control or test, which have produced changes in this world. While we take no position on whether such forces exist, they are simply not testable by scientific means and therefore cannot qualify as part of the scientific process or as a scientific theory. (p. 82, emphasis added]
But if ID is not falsifiable, then (if you assume Popper's criterion, which is far from noncontroversial among philosophers of science) it is not science--and it cannot therefore be falsified. So how does Jones get around the fact that he just said both that ID is not science because it can't be falsified, and that an argument "central to ID" has been falsified?
His method is simply to skip back and forth between the two arguments hoping the reader will not notice.
He says first that the truth or falsity of arguments for ID are irrelevant:
After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science.Judge Jones then goes on an extended argument explaining why he thinks the argument or irreducible complexity fails (the argument for which essentially consists of the fact that lots of evolutionists say so). But then, obviously cognizant of the inherent contradiction in his argument (that the court takes no position on the truth of the arguments for ID and that it does), he points out that irreducible complexity is an argument against evolution, not an argument for Intelligent Design:
Irreducible complexity is a negative argument against evolution, not proof of design, a point conceded by defense expert Professor Minnich. (2:15 (Miller); 38:82 (Minnich) (irreducible complexity “is not a test of intelligent design; it’s a test of evolution”). [p. 68, emphasis added]
He says this, in fact, in several places:
As irreducible complexity is only a negative argument against evolution, it isJones' argument is that the alleged failure of irreducible complexity can be charged to ID's account only if irreducible complexity is not a part of Intelligent Design theory itself, since ID itself is not science and therefore not falsifiable. And yet, if it isn't a part of ID, then it obviously cannot undermine the theory itself.
refutable and accordingly testable, unlike ID, by showing that there are intermediate structures with selectable functions that could have evolved into the allegedly irreducibly complex systems. [p. 76, emphasis added]
Importantly, however, the fact that the negative argument of irreducible complexity is testable does not make testable the argument for ID.How can this be if irreducible complexity is "central to ID"? He wants to use the alleged refutation of irreducible complexity against Intelligent Design, but he doesn't want to do it at the cost of his argument that it isn't science. And he does this by employing an explicit contradiction: that irreducible complexity is both central to ID and not central to it.
He then complicates his position even further:
...[E]ven if irreducible complexity had not been rejected, it still does not support ID as it is merely a test for evolution, not design. [p. 79, emphasis added]In other words, what Jones is saying is that the falsity of irreducible complexity can be held against ID since it is "central" to it, but that, even if it were true, it wouldn't count in favor of it, since it is not central to ID!
It is a clever bit of sophistry. No, take that back. It's just sophistry.
If anyone was in any doubt as to whether the debate over Intelligent Design was rigged, Jones dispels it here. In the duel between the scientific mystics and the advocates of Intelligent Design, the scientific mystics are the only ones allowed a loaded gun.
How can Jones justify this? The short answer is that he can't--not, at least, if he wants to maintain any kind of rational credibility. But if it is not clear how he can do this and remain within the bounds of reason, it is clear why he does it.
ID is science insofar as irreducible complexity (and other similar arguments) is part of it, and unfalsifiable insofar as it is not. And Jones knows this, but wants to have his cake and eat it too.
If opponents of ID want to hold irreducible complexity against ID, then they will have to abandon their argument that ID is not science. And if they want to preserve their argument that ID is not science, they will have to stop using arguments against irreducible complexity against ID.
Until they do, they are simply being irrational.