Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The design of lightning and thunder


An objector to ID posed the following question to a friend of a friend:

“According to Michael Behe’s view of ID (as developed in Darwin’s Black Box), it seems right to say that the system by which thunder and lightning is generated (composed of the sun, water on the ground to heat up and evaporate, thundercloud, air, ground) would qualify as “designed.” After all, it is, a la Behe, a system of several well-matched, separate, interacting parts accomplishing a function beyond the individual components and in which removing one piece does away with the function. But since it obviously wasn’t designed, the method of design detection given in Behe’s book is fundamentally flawed and gives many false positives. Is this an incorrect use of irreducible complexity, and if so, how?”

There are lot’s of problems here: (1) IC (irreducible complexity) presupposes a basic primary purpose/function of a system — what is the basic purpose/function here? (making loud noises, illuminating the earth, generating heat, …); (2) the question confuses the necessary conditions for a system existing at all with its parts (the sun is no more “part” of lightning and thunder than water is “part” of the bacterial flagellum); (3) IC needs SC (specified complexity) to nail down design, which means that the parts coming together have to be highly improbable — ignoring the last point, what is the probability of the sun, the earth, the evaporation of water, etc.? Do they not, on materialist principles, follow by necessity from deeper physical-chemical processes and laws? (4) Where are the independently given patterns — specifications — that allow the explanatory filter to operate and thus, according to my theory, implicate design?