In a previous post there was a vigorous debate about idnet.com.au’s suggestion that Craig Venter might soon manufacture a living organism from scratch. This comment caught my eye: “OMG!! When Craig Venter produces a living organism, will this event trigger the infamous “infinite regress?” WHO DESIGNED CRAIG VENTER???”
Indeed. Assume for the sake of argument that Craig Venter actually succeeds in creating life in the lab (We’ll call them Venter’s critters or “VCs” for short). Then assume the dreaded super virus comes along and wipes out all life on earth except for the VCs, who are immune. Assume further that a million years passes and there are no traces that any living thing other than VCs ever existed on earth. Then two aliens come along. Alien 1 of 2 observes the VCs running around, all of which are desendants of the original lab-created VCs. The VCs exhibit irreducable complexity and complex specified information, and 1 of 2 therefore concludes that it is very unlikely that they were caused by chance and necessity, and therefore, making an inference to the best explanation, he concludes they were designed. Alien 2 of 2, a dyed in the wool materialist, says, “1 of 2, you’re an IDiot. You are just pushing the question back. If these beasties were designed, tell me who designed the designer?”
This thought experiment brings into relief the fatuousness of the “who designed the designer” argument. 2 of 2’s question is unanswerable. 1 of 2 would have no way to know who Craig Venter was, where he came from, what his purpose was, what process he used to design his critters, etc. Nevertheless, his design inference would be correct.