Thanks Ryan! You’ve taken some time with your reply, so let me try to return the favor. And let me do so by making this a front page post, rather than a more limited reply.
I also like that definition of ID. I asked the question because many people believe that ID is creationism. And creationism is thought to be a kind of religion that is antithetical to science. My worldview is Christian. Notice that I did not say my religion is Christian. The difference is that although I rely on and trust the Christian Bible, I do not do so without question. The Genesis account of creation, for example, can be heard and believed in different ways. It could be interpreted literally, in which case you believe that God did it supernaturally, and that it took only six literal days. I know some Christians who believe that. I don’t. I am what you would call an old earth creationist. In other words, I do believe God did it. I just have no idea how or even what the mechanisms were. I also believe that evolution is a valid scientific theory. But as someone who is not closed-minded about the existence of non-naturalistic realms, I do not accept neo-Darwinism (Darwin’s original ideas, updated and expanded by modern Darwinists) as the explanation for all of life.
As I wrote in the post you responded to, we still don’t know what the origin of the universe is. We’re pretty sure it started, and by logic can assume that it did not come from noting to ‘everything’ of and by its own volition. So it’s logical and reasonable to ask what caused it to start to exist. What caused the big bang? Until the scientific world has an answer to that, we all must assume something. We can assume that there was an immensely powerful entity that did the causing, or we can assume there is a naturalistic explanation out there somewhere that just has not been found yet. Even if you just ignore the question, you still carry your assumed answer around with you in the recesses of your mind.
So what? Well, it does matter, I believe. If you make the naturalistic assumption, you are an atheist. If you make the creation assumption, you are a creationist. And here’s where the power of that assumption is so insidious. Either way, you live your life looking for confirmation that the decision you have made is the correct one. Nobody wants to live their life with logical inconsistencies and incongruities. It’s just disconcerting to do so. That is why I have contended in other posts that one is a neo-Darwinist because he is an atheist, not the other way around. I shoul probably amend that to say ‘naturalist’ rather that neo-Darwinist.
There are several assumptions built into different terms, and those assumptions can vary from person to person. When the term is used, and person A imputes assumptions underlying that term that are different than person B, fireworks can occur. That’s why I wanted to agree on the definition of ID before replying. But now we come to the term neo-Darwinism. Some assume that includes the ‘doctrine’ of survival of the fittest. Others don’t. So I would like to say that much of Darwinism and much of neo-Darwinism is logical and acceptable to me. But there are parts of it with which I disagree. Mostly, the parts I disagree with are the non-science parts – that is, the parts where empirical evidence of things that have actually happened is used as the basis for a faith statement. A good example of this is when the suggestion is made that life first arose from inorganic matter without intervention by intelligence (abiogenesis), and that even though there is no evidence yet that that it happened that way, that it is only a matter of time until it is proven. That is a faith statement.
And that leads me to your list of the practical applications of evolutionary theory:
* Bioinformatics, a multi-billion-dollar industry, consists largely of the comparison of genetic sequences. Descent with modification is one of its most basic assumptions.
Assuming an intelligent designer got the whole thing started does not seem contradictory. This would seem to apply to the next two points and the last two as well.
* Diseases and pests evolve resistance to the drugs and pesticides we use against them. Evolutionary theory is used in the field of resistance management in both medicine and agriculture (Bull and Wichman 2001).
* Evolutionary theory is used to manage fisheries for greater yields (Conover and Munch 2002).
* Artificial selection has been used since prehistory, but it has become much more efficient with the addition of quantitative trait locus mapping.
I was under the impression that artificial selection required the direction of an intelligent agent. Otherwise, no problem.
* Knowledge of the evolution of parasite virulence in human populations can help guide public health policy (Galvani 2003).
* Sex allocation theory, based on evolution theory, was used to predict conditions under which the highly endangered kakapo bird would produce more female offspring, which retrieved it from the brink of extinction (Sutherland 2002).
So I have no problem with the idea that evolutionary processes are extremely useful and have led to much of what we know about how life works today. But we still come back to the question of how the whole thing got started. And by that I mean not only the universe, but life itself. The things you have listed here are all supported by scientific testing and development. But none of them is falsifiable by the underlying assumptions that God started both the universe and life itself.
As to your assertion that ID is not testable, I recommend this article by William Dembski. Is Intelligent Design Testable?
He asserts not only that it is, but that “Darwinism” is not. (Again, be sure of what he imputes to that term). Finally, I recommend Intelligent Design In Nature which should be a mind-expander, and What Science Can’t Do, written by my blogfriend Krietsauce.
Thanks for the opportunity to have a constructive dialogue!