The point of UD’s contest (“UD Puts up $1,000 Prize“) is to demonstrate in a practical way that design theory does not depend upon a suspension of natural law (i.e., supernatural miracles). Once again, here is the contest: “UD hereby offers a $1,000 prize to anyone who is able to demonstrate that the design of a living thing by an intelligent agent necessarily requires a supernatural act (i.e., the suspension of the laws of nature).”
Now it should be obvious that a materialist cannot win the contest. Materialists believe that living things “appear” to be designed. As Richard Dawkins wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” However, materialists believe that this appearance of design is an illusion that can be explained by purely natural means. “[Natural selection theory] is so important for the Darwinian because it permits the explanation of adaptation, the design of the natural theologian, by natural means, instead of by divine intervention.” Ernst Mayr
I am now going to make an “a fortiori” argument, i.e. arguing from the greater to the lesser proposition: If a materialist believes that blind unguided natural forces can account for the “design” of living things, how could he ever argue that, in principle, it would require a miracle for an intelligent agent to replicate that “design.” Indeed, the whole point of experiments like the famous Miller-Urey experiment is to show “how nature did it.” The ultimate goal of these experiments is for intelligent agents (i.e., the experimenters) to replicate the natural process by which life began. It would be logically incoherent for a materialist to point to the (very) limited success of these experiments as evidence that natural processes can produce living things and at the same time claim that the design of a living thing by an intelligent agent requires a miracle.
But facts and logic rarely stop our materialist opponents. Faced with an unanswerable argument, they usually resort to obfuscation tactics such as “I just can’t understand what the words you are using mean.” I am reminded of the old legal chestnut: “If the law is on your side, pound on the law; if the facts are on your side, pound on the facts; if neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound on the table.”
Markf pounds on the table when he writes:
This [i.e., the contest] is unclear in at last three respects:
* What counts as “supernatural”
* What counts as “necessarily” – logically necessary, physically necessary?
* Whether the act has to be part of the design process or just be necessary for the design process to happen (in whatever sense of “necessary” is intended)
Kairosfocus answers: The uncertainties are plainly manufactured:
a: unless otherwise notified, the supernatural is used in the ordinary sense — any special one needs to be justified
b: the issue is causal process, so the issue is whether design and implementation of life requires a miracle or could in reasonable principle be done by engineering — which was of course shown long since.
c: If a causal process is a design process, the miracle would obviously have to be part of that process, not in some vague background.