Design Operates at Multiple Levels
|February 19, 2010||Posted by Barry Arrington under Intelligent Design|
In a comment to a prior post lastyearon writes:
I’m simply not understanding how it is possible to detect that certain things were the result of design if everything is the result of design. If you hold that the laws of nature were Fine-Tuned for life, then that position seems incompatible with the notion that it is possible to detect that certain things were the product of Intelligent Design. IDers say they can detect design by distinguishing designed objects from products of natural ‘undirected’ causes. But if natural causes were designed for life, then doesn’t that invalidate that claim?
You seem to imply that “IDers” are the only ones who claim to be able to distinguish between designed objects and objects that are the result of undirected causes. This is simply untrue. Here are two strings of text:
String 1: Uq[49epfia[epfoias[efojafpojuawer89yup9fj0075v9aus[-er uqpw\\dflkjoigjeriodfdfioaergoierioadf;lkdfrgerkiergsdfvm
String 2: To be, or not to be–that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them.
Now you tell me. Which one of these strings of text is designed and which one is random gibberish. I am certain you will answer that it is obvious that string 2 is designed and string 1 is random gibberish, and so it is. There, you’ve detected design. And anyone else would reach the same conclusion whether they are an IDer or an inveterate opponent of ID theory.
To answer your question, consider this analogy. If I go to Home Depot I will see piles of lumber, nails, paint, wire, etc., in short, everything I need to build a house. No one believes those materials found their way into the aisles of Home Depot by natural undirected processes. They were manufactured and delivered by intelligent agents. But still there is no house. Thus we see that the materials at Home Depot are necessary, but they are not sufficient to build a house. The house will only ever be built if an intelligent agent assembles the materials in a complex and specified fashion.
In the same way, the ID proponent says that the finely tuned laws of nature are necessary for the existence of life, but they are not sufficient. What is missing? Complex specified information. And the fundamental premise of ID theory is that complex specified information arises ONLY as the result of the acts of intelligent agents. So you see, just as in the Home Depot example, design operates at two levels. It operates at the level of setting the conditions (building materials ready to be used; finely tuned laws of nature), and it also operates at the wholly separate level of the design of specific things (building the house; building the DNA molecule).