For some time now, GP has had up a post on defending intelligent design. In following its discussion off and on (it’s budget season here), I see that the definition of design is on the table for discussion. I think I can help (and while I am at it — just noticed, contribute to BA’s dissection of the Only Human Intelligence Allowed fallacy), and I think it worthwhile to headline a comment:
KF, 310: >> it seems the definition of design is up again as an issue. The simplest summary I can give is: intelligently directed configuration, or if someone does not get the force of “directed,” we may amplify slightly: intelligently, intentionally directed configuration. This phenomenon is a commonplace, including the case of comments or utterances by objectors; that is, the attempted denial or dismissal instantly manifests the phenomenon. Going further, we cannot properly restrict the set of possible intelligences to ourselves or our planet or even the observed cosmos, starting with the common factor in these cases: evident or even manifest contingency of being. Bring to bear that a necessary being world-root is required to answer to why a contingent world is given that circular cause and a world from utter non-being (which hath not causal power) are both credibly absurd and we would be well advised to ponder the possibility of an intelligent, intentional, designing necessary being world-root given the fine tuning issue. The many observable and empirically well-founded signs of design manifest in the world of life (starting with alphanumeric complex coded messages in D/RNA and in associated execution machinery in the cell) joined to the fine tuning of a cosmos that supports such C-Chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life suggests a unity of purpose in the evident design of cosmos and biological life. Taken together, these considerations ground a scientific project and movement that investigates, evaluates and publishes findings regarding such signs of design. Blend in the issues of design detection and unravelling in crypography, patterns of design in computing, strategic analysis, forensics and TRIZ the theory of inventive problem solving (thus also of technological evolution) and we have a wide-ranging zone of relevance.>>
GP’s comment at 312 deserves to be added:
>>In the end, the concept of contingent configurations linked to the implementation of a function is simple enough.
Contingent configurations are those configurations that are possible according to operating laws.
Choosing a specific contingent configuration that can implement a desired function is an act of design.
If we can only observe the object, and not the design process, only the functional complexity, IOWs the utter improbability of the observed functional configuration, can allow a design inference.
Simple contingent configuration can implement simple functions. But only highly specific contingent configurations can implement complex function.
Highly specific contingent and functional configurations are always designed. There is no counter example in the whole known universe.>>
Let’s look at a favourite case in point:
Let’s zoom in on one key component:
Oh, BTW, here is a biological case, from an insect:
Where, let’s ponder in the world of biology:
Which is part of protein synthesis:
. . . which uses alphanumerically coded D/RNA information:
. . . as of course Crick discussed:
. . . and protein synthesis is in turn top left of the wider metabolic network of the living cell:
Compare the comparatively primitive, crude, simple reaction flow network of a petroleum refinery:
Where on a trillion member observation base, functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I for short) reliably are seen to come about by design, not by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Where, needle in haystack search challenge for islands of function deeply isolated in vast configuration states readily explains that observational pattern:
(Such isolation is the direct result of the need for many correctly arranged and coupled parts to attain a specific, configuration-based function.)
And indeed, the UD Glossary — accessible under the Resources Tab — has long since summarised:
Chance, contingency, necessity, and design Chance – undirected contingency. That is, events that come from a cluster of possible outcomes, but for which there is no decisive evidence that they are directed; especially where sampled or observed outcomes follow mathematical distributions tied to statistical models of randomness. (E.g. which side of a fair die is uppermost on tossing and tumbling then settling.)
Contingency – here, possible outcomes that (by contrast with those of necessity) may vary significantly from case to case under reasonably similar initial conditions. (E.g. which side of a die is uppermost, whether it has been loaded or not, upon tossing, tumbling and settling.). Contingent [as opposed to necessary] beings begin to exist (and so are caused), need not exist in all possible worlds, and may/do go out of existence.
Necessity — here, events that are triggered and controlled by mechanical forces that (together with initial conditions) reliably lead to given – sometimes simple (an unsupported heavy object falls) but also perhaps complicated — outcomes. (Newtonian dynamics is the classical model of such necessity.) In some cases, sensitive dependence on [or, “to”] initial conditions may leads to unpredictability of outcomes, due to cumulative amplification of the effects of noise or small, random/ accidental differences between initial and intervening conditions, or simply inevitable rounding errors in calculation. This is called “chaos.”
Design — purposefully directed contingency. That is, the intelligent, creative manipulation of possible outcomes (and usually of objects, forces, materials, processes and trends) towards goals. (E.g. 1: writing a meaningful sentence or a functional computer program. E.g. 2: loading of a die to produce biased, often advantageous, outcomes. E.g. 3: the creation of a complex object such as a statue, or a stone arrow-head, or a computer, or a pocket knife.)
If we need further clarification, here is a per aspect form of the design inference explanatory filter:
It should be clear that design is readily seen in action, that it is a coherent concept; being closely connected to our having purposeful, intelligent thoughts expressed in symbolic terms such as words and coded instructions or mathematical expressions. These may then be manifested physically on paper or a screen or a physical model, thence as a full-orbed entity. Those who try to discredit the concept are forced to manifest it to so object, showing that the reality of design is undeniable and self-evident. It is closely connected to our conscious, intelligent existence.
So, going forward, let us understand that there is a legitimate scientific project, research programme and movement that ponders the nature of intelligence, then ponders designs produced by intelligence and then investigates empirically and analytically the possibility and actuality of observable, reliable signs of design. From such, publication exists (even in the teeth of determined intention to discredit and censor), and there are fields of relevance ranging from origin of cosmos to origin of the world of life to origin and development of technology as well as the difficult but important fields of codes, strategies and design patterns. END