Some, who are aware of the absurdity of Darwinian macroevolution but, in the same time, dislike intelligent design (ID), believe that a third way is possible between the two, a third way able to explain the origin of living beings.
Their position can be expressed in many manners, e.g.:
(1) “natural substances have built-in capabilities to produce complexity” or “an intrinsic teleology is built into the universe”;
(2) “cells have an internal intelligence, sort of natural internal engineering. […] Evolution by natural genetic engineering has the capacity to generate complex novelties.” (James A. Shapiro, “A Third Way”);
(3)”self-assembly to produce complexes which have capabilities far beyond component pieces seems built into creation at multiple levels”. (Loren Haarsma, “Models of evolving interlocking complexity in biology and economics”).
In other words, between naturalism and teleology they believe in something like natural teleology. This third way, natural teleology, seems to them to be consistent with their methodological naturalism. Because, in a sense, built-in teleology is positing intelligence within the system, rather than without it. This way they hope to have expelled the designer once and for all.
Here I will argue that this alleged built-in third way, supposed to be non Darwinian and non ID, is instead cent-percent ID and doesn’t at all expel the designer. I mean that the third way position is inconsistent and, between evolutionism (natural unguided causation) and design (intelligent guided causation), tertium non datur. In fact the third way simply sums up to shift the information along the process. It doesn’t create the information from thin air. Hence the problem of the origin of information remains perfectly unresolved, if one denies a designer. See the picture:
The picture represents two cases. In the “standard ID” scenario (above) we have more information injected at the final design stage. We say we have a “final designer”. Differently, in the “built-in ID” scenario (below) we have more information injected at the intermediate parts stage, then we have an “intermediate designer”. This is symbolized by the adjective “designed”, which is prefixed to the “system” term in the former while is prefixed the “parts” term in the latter. More a stage is “designed” more information is involved inside.
Both scenarios in the picture share an identical starting point, unintelligent “matter”, and the final point, the biological system. The ID theory “law of conservation of information” (LCI) tells us that the amount of information in the “built-in ID” scenario, after the information leftward shift, must be equal or greater than in the “standard ID” scenario. Simply most information has moved from the final stage to the intermediate previous stage. Speaking in terms of the designer, the designer role has changed place, but continues to be fundamental.
Another perspective to understand what I mean is to use the concept of “factory”. A factory of a product X is an organized system with an internal teleology for X. In the “built-in ID” the middle “parts” box can be considered an automatic “factory”, in the sense that, thanks to its internal teleology, it is able to output the final system X, without the need of a final designer. The third way proponents would say that in this scenario the parts “self-organize” and finally give X as output. “Self-organization” is in fact the illusion that an automatic factory shows. In reality the factory itself, before it can work, must be aptly organized by an intelligent agent, different from itself, specifically, an intermediate designer. Therefore “self-organization” of a factory is not “self” at all, because an external agent organizes it. Since a factory is always more complex than its products one sees that we don’t at all get information from free when we pass from the “standard ID” scenario to the “built-in ID” one. Even we worse the problem in a sense, because in general a factory is more complex than its products (more information). We see that, from this perspective, we reach the identical conclusion based on LCI. No wonder.
Let us note in passing that this explains because a total front-loaded biological macroevolution would imply intelligent design at the highest level. In fact to construct a system involves intelligent design. To construct a system able to morph at run time into many different systems is far more difficult and involves intelligent design raised to n-th power.
Now, to clear more the issue, consider this practical example. Let’s suppose the final design is a Lego construction. All know what Lego is:
“Lego consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks […that] can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots. Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. (Wikipedia)
Usually Lego constructions are made by children or teenagers (eventually with the help of their parents, you know…), who work as “final designers”. Then the Lego’s world is a typical “standard ID” scenario.
Now, let us assume, for the sake of argument, to pass to a Lego “built-in ID” scenario. What would that entail? It would entail that the Lego bricks are able to automatically self-assembly to produce “vehicles, buildings, and even working robots”, without the need of a final designer. I bet that the Lego’s producer would say, with the hands on his head, that our request is too difficult to realize. Also the Lego’s engineers would be extremely puzzled before this task, in which they would work as “intermediate designers”.
The problem is that the final system contains organization. This organization cannot come from nothing or from something less than it (that would be more-from-less logical fallacy). Therefore is useless, even counterproductive, to move the problem leftward in the creation iter. An organization source is necessary in all cases. The “built-in third way” is not “third” at all because is even an advanced intelligent design modality, and therefore it is useless to resort to it to rebut the Designer.