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Author Topic:   Detecting Design
Posts: 2199
Joined: 07-15-2003

Message 11 of 59 (540727)
12-28-2009 6:53 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tanndarr
12-20-2009 8:45 PM

Tanndarr writes:

How do we identify design when we see it?

Another question that bugs me about design is whether it, once detected, necessarily implies an intelligent designer. ID-ists always implicitly assume that it does, but I think it's possible for design to arise in (two?) different ways. One way is by intelligence, exemplified by Paley's watch; another way is by a long series of small steps, with trial and error as the guiding principle. In both ways "a lot of work is done"*, either by a lot of careful planning and very few trials, or by no planning at all and a great many trials. In the first method the work is invested in the planning, in the second it goes into the trials. Humans can use both methods with success. If a mechanism can be found that automates the second method, then there is no reason to conclude that a designer must by necessity be involved. Such a mechanism has been identified: it's the principle of evolution.

For me, the question then becomes: how can we determine which of the two methods led to the design we see? (A useful indicator might be the many dead ends we see in the design of life. They do not point to careful planning.)

* This is a phrase Daniel Dennett uses when discussing the same idea in his book Darwin's Dangerous Idea.

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tanndarr, posted 12-20-2009 8:45 PM Tanndarr has replied

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