What do SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and the Intelligent Design movement have in common? They both operate under the premise that we are able to meaningfully discern between things which have been intelligently designed by non-humans and things which haven’t been designed at all. Are they correct? If so what is the methodology for reliably and objectively distinguishing between things which are intelligently designed and things which may appear to be but which in fact occur naturally without the involvement of any conscious intent?
If (for example) we were to detect a repeated signal from a far off star expressing the value of Pi to 128 decimal places in binary emitted at the frequency of the Hydrogen line I would suggest that we could very reasonably consider this a sign of intelligent beings. Certainly SETI enthusiasts would consider it as such.
But what exactly is it that makes this an example of intelligent design? On what basis are we concluding conscious intelligent intent? And should this sort of example give IDists hope that their claims of detecting intelligent design of a more general sort has any validity?
If SETI can spot intelligent design what method are they using and can IDists apply the same methods?
OK. I get what you are saying about what SETI are actually doing. But it is possible to recognise non-human intelligent sourcing from the content and type of signal isn't it?
If (for example) we were to detect a repeated signal from a far off star expressing the value of Pi to 128 decimal places in binary emitted at the frequency of the Hydrogen line I would suggest that we could very reasonably consider this a sign of intelligent beings.
If SETI found such a signal I'm sure they would consider it as such.
Are we sending out a signal like the one you describe, one that could be detected across large galactic distances?
I don't know. But if we are sending signals and we want to say something like "We exist and we are reasonably intelligent" then the sort of signal I descibed would seem a decent way of doing that.
But I am not claiming any special knowledge or expertise here. Frankly I naively thought I was onto an original (in EvC terms) comparison until Mod and others made it obvious that this topic has done the rounds previously.
If a distant civilization picked up our signal they could at least determine that we are using a binary code of some sort, or at least using modulation within the signal to convey information. I think this would be enough to determine that there is an intelligence behind the signal.
OK. This brings us back to the thread focus. How could they tell it was intelligently sourced? What exactlyis it that gives it away? Specifity? Complexity? What?
I ask not because I disagree with you but because I don't know exactly what it is that does make something obviously intelligently sourced.
IDists throw up all sorts of things. Information. Specifity. Complexity. Etc. But when you ask them in what way these things are exhibited and how you can tell them from that which occurs without intelligence they fudge and fumble and ultimately resort to an "It's obvious when you see it" approach.
If SETI is different (and I think it is) I am asking in what sense exactly is it different in terms of objectively differentiating between genuine intelligent sourcing and the sort of thinking that leads some to conclude that life on Earth (for example) must be intelligently designed.
SETI is seeking out any intelligence that has come to the same conclusions about communicating across interstellar distances that we have.
Now you could (and I would) say that such a conclusion is based on objective knowledge of physical reality and the way in which certain aspects of physical reality (i.e. what we know as EM waves) behave. In which case the type of intelligence is largely irrelevant except in so far as it is able to discern aspects of objective reality.
Or you could say that such conclusions are dependent on the type of intelligence that has drawn such a conclusion. In which case only an intelligence very similar to our own wouldconceivably do such a thing.
Rahvin, I and even you seem to be assuming/arguing the former approach. Jar sorta ambiguously seems to be taking te latter approach.
CS about jar writes:
Your questioning can be a bit cryptic...
In my experience jar can be a contributor of great significance when he can be arsed. But when he can't be arsed, and I would suggest his arsedness drops dramatically when he is significantly challenged in any way, he resorts to trite ambiguous soundbites that aren't worth the posting space.