There is a belief among media commentators that intelligent design is unscientific because it is unfalsifiable or untestable: no empirical evidence can count against it. Though common, this charge is demonstrably false. Of course there’s no way to falsify a mere assertion that a cosmic designer exists. This much we are agreed on. But contemporary design arguments focus not on such vague claims, but on detectible evidence for design in the natural world. Therefore, the design arguments currently in play are falsifiable.
So contemporary arguments for intelligent design in both biology and the physical sciences are not only testable; they’re falsifiable. We have given only two examples here. There are other design arguments in origin-of-life studies and paleontology that are also falsifiable. Therefore, honest commentators should stop claiming that ID is unfalsifiable. The claim itself is falsifiable, and it has been falsified. It’s time to move on to other and more pertinent aspects of the debate over intelligent design.
Is Intelligent Design falsifiable?
To facilitate the discussion, the following is a list of summaries/excerpts containing specific sub-claims made by the article in order to build its case for the falsifiability of ID:
The claim that Michael Behe's argument for the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum is falsifiable.
In The Privileged Planet, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards describe how to falsify their design argument. They argue that there is a correlation between the conditions needed for life and the conditions needed for diverse types of scientific discovery, and suggest that such a correlation, if true, points to intelligent design." The most decisive way to falsify our argument as a whole would be to find a distant and very different environment, which, while quite hostile to life, nevertheless offers a superior platform for making as many diverse scientific discoveries as does our local environment. The opposite of this would have the same effect — finding an extremely habitable and inhabited place that was a lousy platform for observation.
Our argument presupposes that all complex life, at least in this universe, will almost certainly be based on carbon. Find a non-carbon based life form, and one of our presuppositions collapses. It’s clear that a number of discoveries would either directly or indirectly contradict our argument.
For context, there is a similar ongoing discussion on Philosophy Stack Exchange: Does Intelligent Design fulfill the necessary criteria to be recognized as a scientific theory?