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?
An "intelligent" way to resolve this (pardon my pun) would be to first work out exactly what the problem is before trying to solve it. First we need to decide what "I"- (intelligence) is exactly. I think that most of us would agree that I= the cognitive ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations, and including the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria.
And if we can all agree that this is a fair definition of intelligence regardless of how much or how little, and regardless of being a human, an elephant, or an extraterrestrial alien, then we can move on to the next step in the equation. That would be to determine something that is only a byproduct of intelligence, or a "Product" of intelligence "only" if you will (IP ). I would suggest that since only things with an "intended purpose" can be achieved by an intelligent source, that "intended purpose" would be one type of IP. Therefore even if we don't have the actual "I" source presently available to study, we can detect "I" by looking for its product IP.
So the next step is to determine what exactly are the characteristics of IP. Also another factor in this equation is to consider the important roll the observer plays. As one poster said, "how can we find what we don't know to look for?" Therefore the observer "O" must be able to recognize IP in order to even know that "I" is or was present. Therefore from here on out when I refer to "O" I am referring particularly to O's recognition ability. There are two major factors inherently necessary in the characteristics of IP. There must first be an intended transmission of something, and there must also be a receiver and the receiver must be completely independent of the transmission. For example in a functional way an object like a cup was transmitted, by the source to be used by someone (the receiver) to hold liquid. In communication, symbols or sounds etc. are transmitted for the intended purpose to be received and relay information.
The final stage is to add up all three components. Let me be clear, all three components are required to be present in order to infer IP. Only T + R + O = IP detection. An observer may see a very complex pattern "T" being generated. But without observing and recognizing a R that specifically uses T, all it is is a complex pattern.
So now lets apply this model to the SETI subject. As Taq very correctly stated in message 10, SETI is searching for a very narrow bandwidth radio transmission. Putting aside all discussions about this requiring modern human like tech. lets just look at the basic principle as to why a narrow radio bandwidth set out from the wide bandwidth noise would imply intelligence. Observation has not ever revealed a naturally occurring narrow band so the thought is that narrow bands would require an intentional artificial source. This would imply that there would have to also be something that that source intended to receive the signal. Therefore if SETI were to detect the narrow band, there would be the T and the O in our equation, and the R is implied. Granted this would be greatly stretching to grasp at straws, but its something to start with. If from there they were to detect that signal was in fact "expressing the value of Pi to 128 decimal places in binary emitted at the frequency of the Hydrogen line," we could then deduce that not only were we the O, but quite possibly the intended R. In such a case we could be almost 100% sure we had detected IP.
So then the big question. If in the SETI case, IP would be suspected just at the detection of a narrow bandwidth (completely void of knowing the existence of R or not), why then when we very clearly have the presence of T, R, and O in the case of DNA code, is it not considered to be IP?
Because we see unintelligent organisms like bacteria producing DNA.
I'm not familiar with a study where bacteria have been observed "producing" the code found written in the DNA of the organisms? Unless your confusing REproduction with production?
the change in DNA through time is also observed to be the result of naturally occuring mechanisms
I'm also unfamiliar with any studies where they have observed beneficially NEW never before existed information getting added to the DNA code of any multicelled organisms through mutation and natural selection? If you are familiar with any please do link me to them. I'll be happy to take a look at them.
I think you meant to say that things with an "intended purpose" can be achieved only by an intelligent source. Am I right?
Yes, I'm afraid my grammar was a little off. Thank you for the correction.
...that one intelligent source definitely is known to produce exactly what they are looking for.
Yes, and I would go one further (since we are stating the obvious) and say that so far to date they only know of one source capable of producing that sort of signal. This fact does nothing to negate my point.
SETI aren't looking for your "T" (which you define loosely as a "complex pattern") or for "R".
Excuse me? I didn't define "T" as a complex pattern. T could actually be any pattern or shape. And I didn't say that they were looking for T. I said they were looking of an inference of IP by the existence of T+R+O, which is what they would have if they found such a signal.
A transmitter receiver relationship does not require intelligence on the part of either sender or receiver.
I'm not saying that the function can not occur apart from intelligence. Again my wrist watch runs quite well with out a single intelligent sole around. It is the detection of intelligence that requires an intelligent observer. However I can detect intelligence in the transmitter receiver relationship of the parts within my watch. I am saying that this type of design function requires an original intelligence to create the process.