At TSZ, Elizabeth Liddle asks IDists what the “energy source” is for a designer to move matter in some specific manner? One wonders what EL is talking about – what is the energy source for any human designer to generate intentional outcomes, like picking up tools and building a house? The energy used is the same energy kind that is used as any physical process that occurs. The difference between intentional outcomes and unintentional outcomes is not that a different kind of energy is used, but rather that the energy was used intentionally. Instead of the process being guided by what would be predicted by natural law or a stochastic process (unintentional), intentional activity is not plausibly derivable from those models, although such outcomes are possible in light of those models. Intention can be reasonably views as a teleological physical law or force.
Intention is categorically required to describe the nature of certain observed phenomena. Materialists insist that intention is reducible, in some way, to lawful/stochastic processes, but there is no evidence for this. It is simply a demand made to satisfy their ideology. But why? We know intention exists; we know it produces observably unique phenomena not expected to come into existence without it. We know it can move the material world because it moves our bodies and lets us create all sorts of otherwise unique physical artifacts. So, why do materialists insist that intention is caused by natural laws/stochastic processes? Why do they resist classifying intention as a sort of physical law or process?
Physical laws and forces – such as gravity, magnetism and entropy – are not explanations of physical behaviors; they are models that describe that behavior. To say that “gravity”causes the behavior of matter is to reify the description of the behavior as the cause. Try explaining what causes gravity or entropy without referring to a description or model of the phenomena. That’s what natural laws/forces are: they are models/descriptions of the behavior of matter/energy. When one says that gravity moves matter, they are actually saying “matter moves in this manner in certain conditions”. They are not explaining that movement.
So, we have physical laws that describe and can be used to predict clockwork-type outcomes; we call these “natural” laws. Some physical laws (or combinations thereof) describe and predict stochastic outcomes, which means there are many potential outcomes but certain sets of outcomes are expected; others are unlikely, and others are possible but not scientifically plausible, meaning something else must be added as a contributing cause of the outcome in order to plausibly, sufficiently describe it. Asserting a thing as possible under natural law/stochastic processes is avoiding the scientific requirement of providing a plausible accounting. Relying on bare chance is the same as relying on magic.
Thus, intention can be readily and reasonably seen as another kind of physical law or force, which is to say that it is a description of a certain kind of phenomena. To say intention caused it to occur would be the same as saying that gravity caused it to occur – IOW, a description of the pattern/behavior/outcome of material interactions reified as its cause. The law or force of intention, however, doesn’t predict clockwork outcomes; nor does it predict stochastic outcomes; it predicts, to some degree, outcomes in terms of teleological purpose.
Some materialists have asked what the interface is between intention (ID) and matter/energy; what is the interface between whatever causes gravity and the matter being acted on? We don’t know. What is the interface between whatever is causing entropy and the matter being acted on? We don’t know. We don’t know how whatever ultimately causes gravitational or entropic behaviors “interfaces” with matter or affects it the way it does, we simply use those terms to describe the behavior we observe. A physical law of intention, or an intentional force doesn’t necessarily implicate dualism any more than gravity or entropy necessarily implicate dualism, and not knowing – ultimately – how the effect is achieved or what ultimately is causing the effect doesn’t negate the valid use of the term “intention” for what it is – a description of a class of effect that is not otherwise plausibly characterized by reference to natural laws & forces and stochastic processes, but is properly characterized as intentional arrangements of matter and intentional uses of energy towards a teleological purpose.