Intelligent Design

An Overview of Design Evidence

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The following is an overview of the evidence for design which I wrote recently for a political journal whose readers have mostly had little exposure to ID arguments. It was rejected. It is a pretty basic summary, nothing here that UD readers have not seen many times, but maybe you may find it useful as an introduction to ID for friends. The real meat is in the videos linked, the text here is just an outline.

The idea that natural selection of random variations could explain all the apparent design in the living world might have seemed superficially plausible in 1859, but, in recent years, as scientific research has continually revealed the astonishing dimensions of the complexity of life, especially at the microscopic level, support for Darwin’s implausible theory has continued to weaken, and since the publication in 1996 of Darwin’s Black Box by Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, a growing minority of scientists have concluded, with Behe, that there is no possible explanation for the complexity of life other than intelligent design. The first 4 minutes of the new video Why Evolution is Different  (embedded below) make it clear that Darwinism is still popular in scientific circles not because it is plausible or supported by evidence, but because only materialistic theories are allowed, and no matter how implausible Darwinism may be, no one can come up with a more plausible materialistic theory. 

Although there is no reason to concede this, let’s nevertheless suppose that natural selection could explain how we got from the first life to intelligent, conscious, beings. Darwin did not try to explain the origin of life, but most scientists basically say, now that we have explained evolution, the origin of life itself is a fairly minor problem, it could have happened by pure chance. World-renowned Rice University chemist James Tour explains why the origin of life is not a minor problem, and why we are nowhere close to solving it, in this Science Uprising video. A simple way to appreciate the difficulty in explaining the origin of life is to realize that, with all our advanced technology we are still not close to designing any sort of self-replicating machine,  that is still pure science fiction. So how could we believe that such a machine could have arisen through pure chance? 

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the problems with any explanation without design for the origin and evolution of life is to simply notice (as done beginning at minute 4 of Why Evolution is Differentthat materialists have to believe that the four fundamental forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into computers, airplanes, encyclopedias and Apple iPhones. But are these four unintelligent forces really that clever? Well, they are clever and can perhaps explain everything that has happened on Jupiter, but I do not believe they are clever enough to create Apple iPhones. 

But let’s go back further, before the origin of life. It is well-known, as documented in this Science Uprising video, that the conditions on Earth which make life possible are extremely improbable, and rare in the universe. Of course materialists have an explanation for this: there are many planets in the universe, only a very few are suitable for life, but we are here because our Earth is one of these rare planets. Actually, the list of conditions on Earth that are fine-tuned for life is ever growing, to the point where it is now reasonable to doubt that the conditions on any planet should have been as fine-tuned for life as they are here, but this explanation is at least superficially plausible. 

Now let’s go back even further, to the origin of the universe. Even if we concede that the basic laws of physics are clever enough to bring conscious, intelligent humans out of a primeval slime on a few rare planets, this actually brings us to another problem for materialists. It is now well-known, and accepted in mainstream scientific circles, that the basic laws and constants of physics are extremely fine-tuned for life. Very small changes in the basic constants of physics (the gravitational constant, the charge and mass of the electron, etc.) would have led to a universe with no life, and no humans. This extremely improbable fine-tuning is documented in this video and this oneHow do materialists explain this? Easy: there must be many other universes, with many different laws and values for the constants of physics, and we are here because our universe is one of the lucky ones. Since by definition we can only observe our own universe, this materialist “explanation” is completely unscientific, but this is the best they can do, so that is their story. 

Notice that all of the far-fetched materialist explanations involve survival. Developing hearts and lungs and consciousness and intelligence gave us a selective advantage in the struggle for survival, and so they developed. The Earth is a rare planet where conditions are just right for survival, so that is why we live here. Our universe is one of an extremely small fraction of universes where the laws of physics are just right for life to survive, so that explains why we live in this universe. 

So it is very interesting to see that now, evidence is mounting which shows that conditions on Earth, and in our universe, are not only fine-tuned for survival, but for the development of technology and for scientific discovery! Australian biochemist Michael Denton, for example, outlines here  a few of the fine-tunings of conditions on Earth, and in our universe, which made it possible for us to develop technology. Astronomer Guillermo Gonzales discusses in this video some of the lucky coincidences that make Earth an ideal place to view the rest of the universe. This fine-tuning is interesting because it cannot be explained by “the conditions were just right because otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it” arguments. We would still be here to wonder if the conditions on Earth, and the chemical properties of fire, water and metals, were not so fine-tuned to make the development of technology possible. We would still be here to wonder, if our Earth were not so ideally situated for discovery of the universe. Technology and discovery are simply bonus gifts of design. 

I have found that, after you lay out all the above arguments for design, most materialists are still not swayed, they simply say, no matter how hard it may be to explain the extremely improbable conditions and events that led to the arrival of humans, it is even harder to explain how a designer came to exist. “Who designed the Designer?” is their ultimate argument. 

I have two responses to this. First, why can’t they just be honest, and instead of falsely teaching in our schools that there is no scientific evidence for design, admit that there is abundant evidence but most scientists cannot accept this because they can’t explain the designer. That would be a huge improvement. But of course materialists cannot be honest, because they know most students do not share their philosophical convictions that nothing could possibly be beyond the reach of their science, so they may draw the “wrong” conclusions if told the real reasons most scientists reject design.

My second response is this. People of all philosophical persuasions have to postulate some First Cause, whether intelligent or unintelligent, because nothing can come from nothing. Many may say, but it is easier to understand how matter and energy could be eternal than how an intelligent designer could be eternal. But is it really? By definition, there is no hope of ever explaining the First Cause, whether it is intelligent or unintelligent, in terms of earlier causes. So why not postulate a First Cause which can explain everything after that, and it is more and more clear that unintelligent First Causes can never explain how we came to be. 

Press CC for Spanish subtitles.

15 Replies to “An Overview of Design Evidence

  1. 1

    As far as the “first cause” argument goes, it’s a convenience on both sides. By focusing on the idea that there must be a “first cause,” it gives both sides a convenient argument to make in service of their ideology.

    The model depends on the metaphysical/philosophical agreement that time is ultimately, objectively linear in nature. There have been several quantum experiments that have provided evidence that causation is not limited to the linear-time model.

    Even from a spiritual/religious perspective, it can be argued that causation is not objectively linear, even if our current sequential experience mode makes it very difficult to even think outside of that box. If God is omnipresent and omniscient – knowing the past and future by already being there – then “cause and effect” would be something of a localized “illusion” of perspective, much like the appearance of the sun revolving around the Earth.

    IOW, past present and future would all exist simultaneously from a different perspective, say that of God’s perspective. The term “first cause” would be a nonsensical phrase from that perspective.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    In other words, the block universe. And if you cannot get something from absolutely nothing then, since we observe ‘something’, it must have always existed, even if it’s not the ‘something’ we see now. So no need for a First Cause.

  3. 3
    Granville Sewell says:

    William,

    Good point, I probably should have said “Ultimate Cause” or something like that, because actually time as we know it seems to have begun at the Big Bang, so matter and energy as we know it wasn’t the Ultimate Cause. Anyway, as confused as we may be by the strange concept we call time, the point is that while it may be impossible to explain where an intelligent Ultimate Cause could have come from, it is just as impossible to explain the existence of unintelligent Ultimate Causes.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky is playing semantics. He knows full well that since space-time, matter-energy were brought into a being at the beginning of the universe, then the cause of the space-time matter-energy of this universe must be something that transcends them.

    Only the Bible predicted such a transcendent cause for the universe, i.e. God, millennia before the discovery of the beginning of the universe.

    “My argument,” Dr. Penzias concluded, “is that the best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I had nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”
    – Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978
    https://www.nytimes.com/1978/03/12/archives/clues-to-universe-origin-expected-the-making-of-the-universe.html

    INTERVIEW WITH ARNO PENZIAS AND ROBERT WILSON
    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    – Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
    – Fred Heeren, Show Me God (Wheeling, Ill.: Daystar, 2000)

    “The question of ‘the beginning’ is as inescapable for cosmologists as it is for theologians…there is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing”
    – George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time, 1993, p.189. – George Smoot is a Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    – Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – ‘God and the Astronomers’ – Pg.15 – 2000

    “The Bible is frequently dismissed as being anti-scientific because it makes no predictions. Oh no, that is incorrect. It makes a brilliant prediction. For centuries it has been saying there was a beginning. And if scientists had taken that a bit more seriously they might have discovered evidence for a beginning a lot earlier than they did.”
    – John Lennox

    “among all the ‘holy’ books, of all the major religions in the world, only the Holy Bible was correct in its claim for a transcendent origin of the universe. Some later ‘holy’ books, such as the Mormon text “Pearl of Great Price” and the Qur’an, copy the concept of a transcendent origin from the Bible but also include teachings that are inconsistent with that now established fact.
    – (Hugh Ross; Why The Universe Is The Way It Is; Pg. 228; Chpt.9; note 5)

    “I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence. I believe that the universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.”
    – Antony Flew – (considered world’s leading atheist philosopher for most of his adult life until a few years shortly before his death)
    – The Case for a Creator – Lee Strobel – video (26:00 minute mark)
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/ee32d/

    And last but not least,

    “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
    – Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

  5. 5
    Granville Sewell says:

    One of the fiercest opponents of design I know once admitted that Darwinism is very hard to believe, and he only accepts it because a designer is even harder to believe:

    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/09/an_honest_asses/

    I replied that I would be quite happy if his view were presented in high school and university classrooms, rather than the series of lies students are actually given, about how no serious scientists doubt the Darwinist explanation for evolution or the materialistic view of life’s origin.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    How life originated dictates its subsequent evolution and diversity. It is only if blind and mindless processes were responsible for the OoL would we say that blind and mindless processes produced its subsequent diversity. On the other hand an Intelligently Designed OoL means that organisms were so designed with the ability to adapt and evolve. Evolution by means of intelligent design.

  7. 7

    Mr Sewell,
    While “Ultimate Cause” is a much better term IMO, what I find problematic is the inherent distinction between cause and effect. IOW, it necessarily means that without the cause, the effect could not exist, but in a non-linear perspective of time, what we perceive as the “effect” already exists, and always exists, simultaneously with what we perceive as its cause. Cause and effect, in terms of effects depending on causes in normal interpretations, would be an artifact of local perspective but not actually a quality of reality.

    IMO, the potential existential ramifications of the quantum experiments (delayed-choice, quantum eraser) are enormous and profound, but largely go unexamined by those committed to “first cause” or “ultimate cause” perspectives. That and some other quantum experiments seem to indicate that there is a temporal unity or simultaneity that unites what we call causes and effects, and it seems to exist beyond any perceived spatial or temporal distances.

    IMO, a good model for this lies in theories involve consciousness as central to describing reality, with “reality” being essentially, fundamentally comprised of information and not matter or energy. These theories necessarily imply that “reality” is really mental in nature, not physical or energetic, and that our consciousness interprets that information into a physical and energetic experience.

    Since all “experience” is necessarily mental in nature anyway, this model essentially does away with “the physical universe,” which can only ever be a hypothesis entertained in the mind by way of mental experiences. It renders “the physical universe” as an objective, external order of reality entirely unnecessary and solves the “interaction problem” because that problem would be a derivative of a false premise.

    The model of consciousness interacting with information instead of an external, physical reality solves all sorts of existential, metaphysical issues, along with explaining a lot of the results of quantum physics. In fact, the model is extremely useful in all sorts of fields, but I won’t get into that. You might want to read Bernardo Kastrup’s book, “The Idea of the World” for more detailed and researched information from someone with academic bona fides.

    Back to “Ultimate” Cause. My main beef with that world is that it seems to imbue it with “objective” status; that outside of the local interpretation of experiential reality by – well, let’s call it an individual consciousness, there is an ultimate, or objective cause responsible for generating what, under this paradigm, would be the information and the individual consciousnesses.

    While that concept might seem compatible with non-linear-time simultaneity, it is not. Ultimate Cause cannot be either the cause of the information or the individual consciousnesses in any normal understanding of the word “cause.” While local cause and effect can be experienced, it is not and cannot be an objective phenomena because in an eternal “now” (no objective linear time) causes cannot beget already-existing effects, even simultaneously. All experienced sequences of cause and effect are necessarily local interpretations of information into sequences by what we’re calling “individual consciousnesses.”

    In this scenario, the only causes that exist that can cause the experience of cause-and-effect, and seemingly external sequences of the same, is a local or “individual” consciousness. IOW, and put in plain terms, the individual is causing their experiences and causing them in a sequence (via information processing) that looks like external cause and effect through a sequence of linear time.

    So, is there cause and effect? Yes, if by that one means a consciousness is locally causing its own experiences by the nature of how it is interpreting information.

    There are many very interesting questions that follow from this model, but heck I’ve already written a book here, and honestly I doubt anyone is all that interested in pursuing it this far.

  8. 8
    Querius says:

    Just a side note on Seversky’s reference to the Block Universe Theory, which holds that all mass-energy, space-time (past present and future), gravity, the laws of physics, fine-tuned physical constants, dark matter, dark energy, etc. all exist as an eternal “block.” If you’re interested, here’s a debate on the subject:
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-debate-over-the-physics-of-time-20160719/

    The theory doesn’t answer the question of initial causality within the block universe considering the constant increase in entropy. So, if the block universe is infinitely old, when did entropy begin and why? Please don’t refer to quantum fluctuations initiating the big bang, because probability requires time to exist along with laws of physics and the laws of physics can’t create themselves.

    The Block Universe theory also requires an infinite amount of information. Frankly, after considering everything involved, the block universe seems to have all the attributes of God.

    -Q

  9. 9
    Querius says:

    Just to make my point more apparent:

    The Block Universe theory doesn’t answer the question of initial causality within the block universe considering the constant increase in entropy. So, if the block universe is infinitely old, when did entropy begin and why?

    If the Block Universe is infinitely old, then after an infinite amount of time to reach the present, entropy should be at a maximum now, which it isn’t.

    Blocking the past and future together doesn’t help because they can only be differentiated by something we call “the present.” Arguing Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity wouldn’t help either since “the present” exists in all space-time locations and traversing an infinite amount of time to arrive at “the present” at each one would leave evidence in the form of maximum entropy, which is not what we observe.

    -Q

  10. 10
    BobRyan says:

    The laws of physics has evidence to prove they exist and are universal across the entirety of the universe, unlike Darwinism which lacks any evidence at all. In order for the laws to exist, they must predate the universe. The universe could not have come into existence without the laws in place, since that is how it was designed. Order cannot come from chaos and no one can deny the laws show order exists.

    My belief is the law of energy came first, since it does not follow the other laws. It is something that is as close to eternal as it gets. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. The same energy that exists today has always existed and will continue to exist. If not the work of vastly superior intellect to that of humans, then how did energy originate?

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Was a reason given for the rejection?

  12. 12
    martin_r says:

    i am mechanical engineer,

    what most people don’t realize, is, that when you look at any species, there are always multiple layers of design

    for example – a hummingbird

    Layer #1: the design of the humming itself – the shape of the body, the shape / geometry of the wings, its weight, the frequency of its wing-flaps … in other words, lots of sophisticated design features need to be met so the hummingbird flies as it flies including the hovering-ability.

    Layer #2: the design of hummingbird step-by-step self-assembly (biologists call it – the development). Because, as you may know, there are no workers, no parts / materials suppliers. There is nobody who assembles a hummingbird together. This self-assembly is an fully automated process, even in 21st century – an engineering SCIFI.

    Layer #3: the materials the hummingbird’s body is made of. All sophisticated materials, perfectly developed and adjusted to fulfill its function. What is remarkable, all these sophisticated materials, some very lightweight and strong, are developed at species’s body temperature, no fire of thousands of degrees is needed. Material-engineers can only wonder…

    Layer #4: the design of automated maintenance / repair processes. Almost everything gets repaired. Broken bones, eye’s cornea, the skin,, even DNA molecule gets repaired… I am sure that a biologist could provide a very long list of what gets repaired.

    I never understood how Darwinists imagine the evolution of any repair-process. How an unguided natural process with no foresight can ever recognize a problem (e.g. broken leg). How does unguided natural process know, that this leg needs to be repaired, when, and in what way. Any repair process is an undeniable proof of design.

    i am sure that there are many other layers of species’ design … somebody may add to mine…

  13. 13
    Querius says:

    Martin_r,

    Good points! And as I’m sure you know that in any design, there are always priorities, trade-offs, and compromises based on the anticipated environment and usage. Darwinians like to point out “design flaws” in nature that either turn out not to be flaws after all or are the result of design compromises.

    For example, think of geese. They’re excellent in the air, competent in the water, and adequate on land (though slightly ridiculous). One can imagine what the design of a triphibious vehicle might look like or cost. Penguins are optimized more for operation in and under water. They do quite well.

    Darwinists are motivated to grimly hang on to an antiquated theory from the age of schooners and steamships to avoid recognizing intelligent design. Darwin extrapolated that paleontologists would soon discover a plethora of intermediate body plans in states demonstrating many gradual changes within the fossil record.

    So, after more than 150 years, what have they found? As the brilliant video linked above shows, nothing but entirely new organisms, extinctions, or no change at all. I’m always amazed at science news headlines that express astonishment at finding “living fossils” and how they musta survived without evolving.

    How do Darwinists explain the appearance of design? As the video explains, it was supposedly due to the increasing entropy of the sun under a magician’s cape of billions of years and unknown chemical processes.

    Darwinism is pure science fantasy that’s now considered “fact” by mainstream institutions for ideological reasons, not scientific. As a person who loves science, I look forward to a day when we can pry Darwin’s cold, dead hands off the throat of biology.

    -Q

  14. 14
    Belfast says:

    Seversky @2
    Still dazzled and blinded by the light from your statement, “… since we observe ‘something’, it must have always existed.”

  15. 15
    BobRyan says:

    Belfast @ 14

    What else could he say? Seversky is on the side of belief over evidence. There is no evidence to support the belief, but evidence doesn’t matter to a cult mindset.

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