Joined: May 2002
Well, I am glad that Cornelius concedes that ID-design is different from regular design inferences, in that while we always have (even if approximate) models for the designer in the cases of forensics, archaeology, and even SETI, no such model shall be forthcoming for ID. Therefore we can expect nothing in particular if ID is true, and thus have no way to strengthen or weaken our confidence in the hypothesis.
I say this somewhat in jest, because Hunter in fact only uses the "there ain't no hypothetical model for the designer" argument as a defense, in fact he makes a few characterizations at times. Things have to "make sense" with regard to some unspecified criteria:
With regard to the complex carnivory specializations you mention, ID is more interested in understanding the function and reason (or perhaps lack thereof) behind the different designs, not trying to justify the actions of the designer. So your challenge, as it stands, is fairly weak. To beef it up you need to show that those different specializations are unnecessary or absurd. As I said to RBH, the way to falsify design is:
1) Show that the designer's actions make little sense,
2) Show that naturalistic mechanisms are sufficient to explain the origin of species,
3) Show that the preponderance of scientific evidence/analysis strongly points to evolution.
Any of these is sufficient to falsify ID, or at least effectively falsify it by rendering ID redundant.
The "origin of species" is a somewhat different topic and can be address elsewhere; I expect that if the usual examples of observed speciation or inferred very-recent-speciation were cited, he would back up the goalposts to the level of genus, family, order, phylum, etc. But that's another thread.
I think, though, that #1 and #3 are pretty easily satisfied by the Thylacine example:
Sarcastic and rhetorical barbs about how the designer didn't create according to your personal sensibilities will only backfire, but a serious and plausible challenge on #1 will work for you. For example, in this example you bring up, show that one of the specializations is unquestionably superior to the other, even if transplanted into those other species in that other environment and niche.
Well, how's this: the introduction of the dingo appears to have quite rapidly caused the extinction of the thylacine, which was extinct from mainland Australia before Europeans arrived. Thylacine species persisted for tens of millions of years in the Australian fossil record, into the period of human habitation, and yet some stone-age boat people (unintentionally) killed them off by transplanting an apparently superior design, the dingo.
The only place that thylacines hung on until the 1900's was in the isolated island of Tasmania, where dingos and bounty hunters reduced their population to fatally low numbers by the 1930's.
(one of several web sources on this)
As if this wasn't enough, this appears to be a general pattern with only a few exceptions: placentals have proven to be superior competitors for the same ecological niches, which is why there are precious few marsupials in South America (formerly an Australia-like place before the Panamanian isthmus connected it to North America), and why so many marsupials are endangered in Australia, while things like feral rats, cats, rabbits, and dogs (dingo) are thriving wildly.
By any standard of "good design", it appears that the hypothetical IDer's actions "make little sense": to carefully craft all of these marsupial species for parallel ecological niches on separate landmasses, let them be fruitful and multiply for millions of years, followed by prompt extermination once tectonic accidents or stone-age boats allow apparently superior designs to invade.