My issue is that surely the same reductionist arguments that apply to ID - i.e that the phenomenon can be better explained by chance and the laws of nature - must also apply to human activity.
Human beings do in fact obey the laws of nature. When we apply out inteligence, we don't do so by doing magic, we're not wizards.
Hence if we follow this argument to its logical conclusion we are forced to accept that intelligence in any form is a fanciful and unnecessary concept. We are foolish to invoke an intelligent designer in any circumstances whatsoever whether talking about the natural world or other human beings.
No, you're foolish to invoke magic in any circumstances whatsoever. We know that intelligence exists. But on the same basis we know that magic does not.
Thats why Stephen C Meyer says, "Design theorists do no infer design just because natural processes cannot explain the origin of biological systems, but because these systems manifest the distinctive hallmarks of intelligently designed systems - that is, they possess features that in any other realm of experience would trigger the recognition of an intelligent cause."
Someone might as well say of (for example) computers: "these systems manifest the distinctive hallmarks of evolved systems - that is, they possess features that in any other realm of experience would trigger the recognition of evolution".
There are two things, evolution and design. In order to figure out which of them accounts for the history of an object, we need to know what its history actually was. We can't conclude that a tiger was designed and built in a factory because it has a vague resemblance to a computer any more than we can conclude from the same vague resemblance that a computer was produced by two computers having sex.
Natural selection and descent with modification seem to be processes that require a self-replicating organism to have any explanatory relevance. What process do we know of that give rise to such organisms from water and chemicals and such?
Well, we can watch that happening --- as, for example, if you mix water, nucleotides, and Q-beta replicase. But it's not a good model for the origin of life, because where would you get the Q-beta replicase?
The actual mechanism of abiogenesis is something of a mystery.
So if your going to explain an event in the past, you have to invoke a cause which is known to produce the effect in question. What is the cause now in operation, that produces digital code?
That depends on the digital code. For example, we can see that the digital code in the DNA of living organisms is produced by reproduction with variation on the part of their parents, without any intelligence being involved in the processes that form it --- and, of course, without any supernatural entiities involved in its production in any way.
So if your going to explain an event in the past, you have to invoke a cause which is known to produce the effect in question.
Quite so. Welcome to evolution. Wipe your feet on the mat, they've got apologetics on them.
Eugene Myers, who was involved in the human genome project said, "What really astounds me is the architecture of life. The system is extremely complex. Its like it was designed. Theres a huge intelligence there. I dont see that as being unscientific. Others may, not me."
In the present we observe small amounts of evolution commensurate with the small amount of time we've been looking. DDT resistance would be one example, yes.
Im not sure what point your referring to.
The one I made.
You claimed in general that coded information is the product of intelligence. But this is untrue in the particular case to which you wish to apply it, namely living organisms. We know that the genetic code in (for example) a daffodil was caused by two daffodils unintelligently having sex, and that unintelligent (and, of course, non-supernatural) processes of DNA copying and recombination and mutation and so forth were all that were required to produce the code. That's what we see.
So the specific case in which you wish to apply your supposedly general rule is a known counter-example to it! It's as though you were to say: "All machines work by electricity. Therefore, steam engines work by electricity", or: "All birds can fly. Therefore, ostriches can fly."
Living organisms can reproduce and pass on genetic code, but natural selection doesnt explain the origin of code.
Which is why I didn't say it could, nor mentioned natural selection in my post.
My actual point, the one I made, remains what I actually said it was. When we look at living organisms, we find coded information without an intelligent cause. This means that you can't claim that coded information always has an intelligent cause, because this is known to be untrue. And if you wish to imagine that there was once an organism the information in which did have an intelligent cause, then the onus of proof is on you.
How do you determine that a living organism is unintelligent?
Well, I gave the example of daffodils. They seem quite unintelligent. Could we not agree on that as common ground?
But even in the case of intelligent organisms, let us say Pierre and Marie Curie, the process that produced the information was itself unintelligent. He and she may have used their big Nobel-Prize-winning brains to decide to have a child, or at least to have hot scientist-on-scientist sex, but they did not intelligently design its genome, did they?
The information scientist Henry Quastler said that, "The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity."
Hmm ... let's look at some other things Quastler said. Here's a precis of his book The Emergence of Biological Organization (Yale University Press, 1964). Note the direct quote at the end.
This penetrating essay develops a scientific theory of biological organization starting with the initial creative accident which marked the origin of life. It is the first step in a theory that the author had intended to extend to other levels of organization. Henry Quastler was a research biologist whose application of mathematical ideas to biology was among his greatest contributions, and it was in the course of this work that he became involved in relating the concepts of information theory to problems of cell structure and of the creation and transmission of information in living systems. Here he postulates the construction of an automaton which could produce something akin to the noblest act of human consciousness, the creation of new information.” He finds this eventuality not frightening but reassuring. “It establishes the possibility of the creation of new information… by an organism much simpler than man, even by a single cell, and even by a prebiological macromolecular system.”