Bear with a simple lay hack here a moment: Why must we know a designer’s intentions in order to detect design?
If the fire marshall’s office suspects arson, do the investigators worry much about WHY?
Surely they investigate, confirm their finding, and turn the information over to other authorities and interested parties, without having the least idea why someone torched the joint.
ALL they need to be sure of is that the joint did not torch itself, via natural causes.
Intelligent Design’s inability to infer the intent of their “unknown” designer has always troubled me, but I’m willing to let go of the issue for the moment. There’s a lot of ground ID has to cover first, and O’Leary’s quote ignores some very rudimentary facts. If a fire marshal suspects arson, when it happened, how it happened, who did it, etc. are very important, and the intent of the arsonist will be examined if they can be identified; i.e. they did it for the insurance money, made it look like an electrical thing… yeah, that’s the ticket. I guess O’Leary has not done much detective work, as if we were to really equate the current state of ID to investigating an arson, the fire marshal’s office would simply say “This building burned down because of arson, we don’t know any details, so the case is closed.” Such practices would be outrageous, but ID advocates think they somehow have defeated evolution when all they have is a gut feeling that a designer was involved. Evolutionary scientists are constantly researching when life changed, how it may have done so, what pressures are involved, etc., filling in as many details as is possible to describe how life has changed and continues to do so, but somehow ID thinks of itself as exempt from such proofs.