On Intelligent Design


I was listening to a lecture in which Michael Behe was the speaker and was struck by something. Behe was quite willing to accept the authority of certain evolutionists when they defined evolution as “unplanned” and “unguided”, but was not willing to accept their authority when they said that it could explain all of life. He, instead, insisted that there are some things that are so complex that evolution could not have developed them. Evolution could have developed most things, but not all of them. His acceptance of one authoritative description and not the other seems nothing more than preference.

Now, I appreciate when someone says that because the cell is complex it must have been designed, but I do not follow their logic that because they themselves are designed that they must therefore have some special value or worth as human beings. Behe himself uses the example of a mouse trap as “irreducibly complex”. Am I to understand that the mouse trap has some special worth as well? It just doesn’t follow. As an argument for the value of human life it is very inadequate; but ID seems to be the battle cry of the Christians against abortion and teaching evolution in the schools. They think evolution removed the value of human life and ID will replace it. But am I to believe, for example, that because my big toe is complex, that it somehow makes me special? Or because my spleen is complex it means I have value? I just don’t see it. Value isn’t dependent upon complexity.

Also, as an argument for God’s existence, ID as it is modernly framed is the weakest argument. Any idiot can make a mouse trap. And so any being, no matter how outlandish or pastafarian, could have made complex things on earth. The argumentative conclusion of ID is farther away from the God of classical theism than the moral or Kalam argument. At least with those arguments the attributes of God necessarily follow from the premise.  But, even the intergalactic emperor Zenu could make a mouse trap.

The only intelligence in the universe that makes sense to me is the one directing the change that we see every day. Let me illustrate with an analogy. Someone might see Socrates sitting in prison and seek to explain why he is there. One person says that he is sitting there because of the complexity of his muscles, ligaments, and joints and how they expand and contract. They have expanded and contracted in such a manner that has caused him to sit in prison and there he sits. Another, more correct, person would say that the reason Socrates is sitting in prison is that he has decided it better to accept the punishment of his government than to run away. In other words, Socrates’ intelligence has directed his joints and ligaments for the purpose of justice. But, it could have been otherwise. He could have decided to run and we would see his joints and ligaments expand and contract in just that way. It is precisely this explanation that accounts for intelligence in the universe.

Why do things happen in just the way they do? Why do they not happen another way? An egg turns into a chicken. But, why does not the egg turn into a goat? Why do trees produce leaves instead of budding into faeries? When I push my finger against metal it does not give. But, why does it not change color upon touch or vibrate? Why do I type here instead of doing the dishes? Intelligence is the answer. For we know the universe could have been quite different. Things could have worked a totally different way. And we cannot explain these particularities without recourse to “magic”. A mind must be directing it all. To explain it all by saying,”Well, that’s just the way it all developed from the beginning of the universe”, is not an explanation. Moreover, it’s a lazy man’s explanation and completely redundant. If I ask someone why Socrates sits in prison and they tell me “because things just happened that way, they just told me my own question. For that is the very thing I’m trying to explain: why it happened that way. Intelligence is the answer for Socrates and it is the answer for the universe.

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4 thoughts on “On Intelligent Design

  1. Grinding one’s teeth is not evidence of hunger. Yet people do it to eat, betraying a thought process starting with, “I’m hungry”, and ending with “I’m full.” A scientist only need observe a mouth to infer hunger. The same is true of irreducibly complex biological systems. Only, instead of hunger, grace.

      1. Inherent purpose is the subject in question. Either all organs carry out that purpose or none do, it would seem.

        I mean to address necessity evidenced by beauty in my above reply. The irreducible is beautiful in its arrangement, its symmetry, its assertion, and its target. All are descriptors of purpose.

        Irreducibility necessitates, not just complexity (arrangement), but specified complexity (symmetry). Specified complexity implies an independence (assertion) from regular biological happenings. Independence implies teleology (target).

  2. Why do things happen in just the way they do?

    Magicmanndunit.

    Why do they not happen another way?

    Magicmann works in mysterious ways.

    An egg turns into a chicken. But, why does not the egg turn into a goat?

    Magicmandunnit.

    Why do trees produce leaves instead of budding into faeries?

    Magicmandunit.

    When I push my finger against metal it does not give. But, why does it not change color upon touch or vibrate?

    Magicmandunnit.

    Why do I type here instead of doing the dishes? Intelligence is the answer.

    Yep, magicmandunnit.

    For we know the universe could have been quite different. Things could have worked a totally different way. And we cannot explain these particularities without recourse to “magic”.

    If you can’t explain something, then it must be magic.
    It works for everything. All the time.
    It is the ultimate answer.

    Why is my daughter sick? Magicmandunnit.
    Why are my crops failing? Magicmandunnit.
    Why does mold grow here and yet that part of the petrie dish is mold free?
    Magicmandunnit.

    A magicman must be directing it all. To explain it all by saying,”Well, that’s just the way it all developed from the beginning of the universe”, is not an explanation. Moreover, it’s a lazy man’s explanation and completely redundant. If I ask someone why Socrates sits in prison and they tell me “because things just happened that way, they just told me my own question. For that is the very thing I’m trying to explain: why it happened that way. Magicmandunnit is the answer for Socrates and it is the answer for the universe.

    Magic Man: Robin Ince on the history of Creationist Thought

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