.The argument from design

Can anyone give me some examples of the evidence for intelligent design?

I recently read that the electrical impulses which cause my heart to beat are timed to within 110 milliseconds, and this accuracy has to be maintained for an average of 2.5 billion times during a lifetime.

Anything outside of this range can lead to instant death.

This just filled me with awe and wonder, not to mention gratitude…I’m 60!

My heart has beat within a range of around 25bpm to 140bpm. The electrical impulses varied according to the stresses on my body and my heart beat accordingly.

And ID is creationism with a false nose and a bad wig trying to sneak into educational facilities. You might note that all proponents of ID are Christian but have absolutely no idea who the ID’er could be.

Believe that and I have a bridge to sell you at a very reasonable price.

This is the typical argument from an ID denier: a really bad metaphor (instead of a rational argument) and a fallacious non sequitur.

So you do find design in nature? That any particular design lacks perfection (leaving aside for the moment that one can know what constitutes perfection) does not deny the existence of design but rather affirms it. The question reduces then to whether or not the design observed is moving toward or from that perfection.

Intelligent Design™ is a theory I don’t truck with much. I do think God is intelligent and could be called a designer, but Intelligent Design™ is a specific set of arguments that go beyond those general claims. It views the things of the world as well oiled machines that are too complex to have developed naturally. I think that gets things wrong. Things of nature aren’t just machines, for one. And nature itself shouldn’t be considered as something independent of God. We have the natural order of things (under which complex things can develop) because of God who is its cause. I just don’t buy the notion of irreducible complexity defended by ID™.

I could explain myself better, but that’s just my broad strokes thoughts.

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To expand on this, the counter argument of “suboptimal” design misses the ID theorist’s point. It’s not about the most optimal design but about “irreducible complexity”. I have my own qualms with the idea of irreducible complexity, but “suboptimal design” is a bad counter argument in itself.

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Just a technical point, the range of your heartbeat has nothing whatsoever to do with your QT interval.

The QT interval is the time from the start of the Q wave to the end of the T wave. It represents the time taken for ventricular depolarisation and repolarisation, effectively the period of ventricular systole from ventricular isovolumetric contraction to isovolumetric relaxation…

In other words the timing of a firing impulse within a sequence.

I am now better informed than I was 10 minutes ago. Thanks for that, Ian.

I’m no medic! I only know because I take meds that can affect the QT time and have to be tested periodically…that gives me a very personal interest :joy:. My cardiologist explained it to me. Take care :slightly_smiling_face:

I wanted to expand on my comments regarding the “sub-optimal design” objection.

I wrote above that Intelligent Design Theory™ bases its arguments on the idea of irreducible complexity. The argument is that the development of some levels of complexity are not reducible to natural processes. It is not that certain features are so complex that it is very improbable they developed naturally, it is that the complexity is at such a level that it is not possible for them to have developed naturally. This is what is meant by irreducible complexity. Therefore, if it is demonstrated that it is not possible for physical nature to explain the complex thing being considered, the alternative is that an intelligent designer is necessary.

So, when we consider the “sub-optimal design” objection, I hope it is seen how this specific objection fails to actually address the argument. Even if we were to concede that there is a case of sub-optimal design, we have to remember that the IDT argument is not that many things in nature have optimal design/systems. It’s that many of the systems are of such complexity that they are not reducible to being developed by physical processes alone. Even a so-called sub-optimal system, then, could still (so the ID theorist goes) rise above the bar of irreducible complexity, and that is sufficient – so they say — to show intelligent design and a creator.

I wrote all that up as someone who cares very little for Intelligent Design arguments, as someone who does not think irreducible complexity is a convincing argument, and who thinks the philosophy of nature implied by Intelligent Design™ arguments is incorrect. I want to be clear on that. But I do think it is important that objections focus on the actual premise of the argument.

And one more addendum I’ll add, I have seen people present and defend the Intelligent Design argument badly, so while I have harped on “irreducible complexity” as being the central thesis of the argument, I have certainly seen people argue simply for “very improbable odds” as the central point. And I think the premise of “very improbable odds” is a very bad argument indeed, one that is quite easily seen on the the surface as very evidently faulty.

Thank you for reading my self-indulgent prattle.

One last edit: I do know there are some people on these forums who do argue for irreducible complexity. I’ll leave it to them to defend the notion. I hope they chime in, due to your curiosity.

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I went to the ark encounter and have taken college level classes in biology, chemistry and physics, although engineering is my field. What struck me was the fact that on all sides we are all trying to interpret physical evidence observed in our world. ID brings forth some fascinating observations of our world that are compelling for their side. But a knee jerk dismissal of ID conveniently allows us to ignore all the real world evidence and arguments they use. True scientific inquiry should be agenda-free. The history of science is replete with people who looked like idiots to conventional wisdom of their day, but then their positions turned out to be at least partly right. True scientific inquiry should never be so quickly dismissive.

In a book on prayer by Anthony Bloom, who was an Orthodox priest but also a medical doctor, he talked about how the view of God we have in our minds is much like a scientific model, as the subject (an infinite God) is far too vast to be fully understood. As both a scientist and as a holy man, he said we should welcome it when evidence comes along that seems to violate our model, because then we have the opportunity to create a better and more accurate model of the complex reality we are studying.

At my secular university I remember having a conversation with my biology professor, and expressing my opinion that the physical world, when you’re studying it in detail, requires a greater leap of faith to believe that somehow came about without a creator. And he just nodded his head in agreement. The deeper I studied science, the more unlikely a creator-less origin seemed.

My discomfort with both sides leads me to believe that we are not at the true answer yet. But it is fun to explore!

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Another example may be the cell. It is considered by many to be irreducibly complex, such that no scientist has ever been able to go from no life to life and create a cell!

You’ve piqued my interest.

So are you saying that the ‘big picture’ of the created order speaks of an intelligent God, but that this doesn’t imply that he has consciously designed each part?

ID as a science is no weaker than Darwinism is as a science in explaining the progression of species from simple to complex beings.

ID’s weakness: The idea of “design” is one of common sense. It is not measurable in the sense that one can draw a line that separates that which is designed and that which is not, and another line that separates that which is complex from that which is not. Having a key attribute – design – that cannot be measured and mathematically modeled, science must drop out as a strong ID proponent.

Darwinism’s weakness: First, the mechanism claimed that works on random mutations, natural selection, cannot be verified. We have evidence of different kinds of life and evidence which indicates progression from simple to complex beings but no evidence of natural selection as the driving mechanism. “Survival of the fittest” is pure theory, rational but not empirical. Second, randomness is a perceptual claim rather than an observational claim. That is, if one cannot see the cause to effect then, in ignorance, one only perceives the effects to be random. Fair enough for now. The molecular biologists will illuminate us, hopefully, soon.

As we are in the philosophy forum, we can also size up the two theories as philosophies on the origin of species. Philosophy does not limit its inquiry to the same constraints as do the empirical sciences. But philosophy does limit the movement from observation to logical inference based on metaphysical principles. Darwinism fails as a a philosophical explanation primarily, but not exclusively, because the theory violated the principle of sufficient reason , i.e., an effect cannot have properties not present in one or more of its causes.

ID does quite well as a philosophical explanation of simple to complex beings. Taken at its most complex, ID offers the only explanation for the human mind. The human mind possesses the properties of intelligence, abstract reasoning and free will. Only a being possessing those properties can be the cause of beings with those same properties.

When you ask, how could the universe and life come to be purely by natural causes? There are only arguments.

Thankfully we’re not limited to either as a philosophy. and Intelligent Design Theory is almost always used to refer to the types of “irreducible complexity” arguments defended by William Paley, not just to the idea that their must be an intelligent creator. Hence my slightly flippant use of the ™ symbol above.

ID’s weakness: The idea of “design” is one of common sense. It is not measurable in the sense that one can draw a line that separates that which is designed and that which is not, and another line that separates that which is complex from that which is not. Having a key attribute – design – that cannot be measured and mathematically modeled, science must drop out as a strong ID proponent.

ID’s weakness is that irreducible complexity (as the argument is presented) is not something that can really be demonstrated at all, despite claims that it is scientific. And furthermore I don’t see any reason why the brain should be evidence of design and a rock, or a hydrogen atom, or an electron should not. It’s an attempt to draw arbitrary lines across a mistaken, mechanical (that is, simply mathematical modeling and mechanical parts) conception of nature.

Darwinism’s weakness: First, the mechanism claimed that works on random mutations, natural selection, cannot be verified. We have evidence of different kinds of life and evidence which indicates progression from simple to complex beings but no evidence of natural selection as the driving mechanism. “Survival of the fittest” is pure theory, rational but not empirical. Second, randomness is a perceptual claim rather than an observational claim. That is, if one cannot see the cause to effect then, in ignorance, one only perceives the effects to be random. Fair enough for now. The molecular biologists will illuminate us, hopefully, soon.

Thankfully the alternative to rejecting IDT™ is not just “Darwinism,” though the term is often thrown around as a vague pejorative. I take no issue what the model of natural selection science shows. The naturalist metaphysical conclusions/baggage some take with it, though, is hardly required. Darwinism as metaphysics is deeply flawed.

As we are in the philosophy forum, we can also size up the two theories as philosophies on the origin of species. Philosophy does not limit its inquiry to the same constraints as do the empirical sciences. But philosophy does limit the movement from observation to logical inference based on metaphysical principles. Darwinism fails as a a philosophical explanation primarily, but not exclusively, because the theory violated the principle of sufficient reason , i.e., an effect cannot have properties not present in one or more of its causes.

ID does quite well as a philosophical explanation of simple to complex beings. Taken at its most complex, ID offers the only explanation for the human mind.

This bears on some nuances which go beyond “irreducible complexity” arguments, in my view.

Not quite. I believe everything brought about is intelligently intended by God. The over simplified difference is this:

The Intelligent Design Theorist does not believe God created the natural order as capable of producing certain complex things. I am saying that God created the natural order as capable of producing such complex things through natural processes.

There’s a lot more nuance to that, and things to be said, some regarding the principle of proportionate causality that @o_mlly mentioned above. But I think IDT™ just gets the order of things wrong at the very beginning of the project even if it draws on some correct principles along the way. It views everything as reducible to machine parts of a mechanistic nature, it takes the mechanical view of nature project as developed by Descartes and runs with it, and so gets off on the wrong foot. I don’t think you can draw arbitrary lines across nature in terms of “irreducible complexity.”

Im not much of an expert but isn’t one example of irreducible complexity the eye?

Apparently it’s hard to work out how a sightless creature could evolve towards having seeing apparatus when during that process there would be no improvement in vision until the eye was complete.

This piqued my interest as I can think of a water molecule that has wetness as a property not possessed by its constituent parts. There are many other examples…neither sodium nor chloride taste salty but combined, they do. What am I missing here?

Much of this has been explained with currently living organisms. From those that just have light sensing spots giving them an advantage in knowing which direction is lighter or darker…through the complex eyes of the fly…nothing like our eyes…including our eyes which is basically a camera hooked to the brain. Eagles have eyes similar to ours yet with much better resolution. Bird eyes can see the color spectrum beyond ours. There is even evidence of organisms that had eyes and lost them when they wound up inhabiting areas where it was no longer an advantage…the blind cave fish.

Here is a starting point with much more research available…

Your description is how a cause can formally be in an effect. The way the wick of a candle takes on the form of fire from the match which is its cause. “Form” in this case isn’t a super technical term. But an effect can also be in a cause (or set of causes) virtually or eminently.

Formal: Sam takes $20 from his wallet and gives it to Alex.

Virtual: Sam does not have $20 on her person, but writes a check to Alex as the money is in the bank account.

Eminent: Sam does not have $20 on her person or in her account, but she has access to a federal treasury printing press and has a $20 bill printed for Alex.

Another common example is with an architect as a cause of a house. The house is in the architect virtually, by way of his mental knowledge, image, and intention of building a house.

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