All that follows is from a comment by Jon Garvey:
As far as the state of knowledge of any normal reader of this (my) post can tell, it poofed into existence on their monitor without explanation. Given our state of knowledge of the universe and its probabilities, most will suppose there is an intelligence at my IP address which instantiated it by some actual action rather than magic. We have no known mechanisms for any other alternative, and “sheer electronic fluke” is, in practice, a non-explanation. Though to be honest, if the stats of this Universe or a many-worlds multiverse allow one to countenance seriously astronomically low probabilities, then this post is no less likely to arise from a random power surge … in which case, don’t reply. Stuff happens.
There’s every likelihood that, once instantiated in a semiotic state, my thought obeys known physical laws. But there must be a degree of agnosticism as to whether I typed it, dictated it to my wife or carved it in stone and got a large scanner to OCI it, because you’re not here to check. The result is the same whichever method I used – but in all cases, intelligent agency is more probable than not, because a fellow in front of a computer has many known ways to compose a post, and no alternatives to that fellow are known. Analogously, many of the ways for a designer to originate life would be inaccessible to us now in the record: but even a process that could be seen in the fossils would not reduce the “intelligent” likelihood if no non-intelligent mechanism can be demonstrated. My post will always be more likely to be consciously-willed by a fellow with a computer than by an uncategorised outworking of chemistry or physics. That’s because natural phenomona habitually recur – the basis of science – whereas intelligent acts are often unique.
The fellow at the computer might be assumed to be human – but you’ve no guarantee whatsoever I’m not an alien infiltrator, an angel or a demon, provided I’m capable of instantiating rational thought about OOL into a semiotic state. But the last point is a logical (near-)necessity, whereas my identity is not.
My thought processes themselves are entirely opaque to you: whether I wrote by stream of consciousness, did several much-corrected mental drafts or worked it all out whilst walking the dog – all that is inaccessible to you, and also irrelevant to the instantiation process. Even if you were in the room with me, the post would poof – at some finite speed – into existence on the screen, and you would have no way to access the thought that guided it – which is plausibly believed by many to be non-material in nature anyway. Mind cannot be tracked, nor can the mind/material interface. But once in the material realm, there must always be a nerve impulse, a finger, a keypad, an internet connection which fully account for the message – whilst *always* being *entirely* incapable of accounting for its information content. Observing a process unfolding in accordance with law no more obviates intelligence than watching a film does. It is the coherent result and the lack of any adequate non-intelligent agency that settles the case.
So “under which state of knowledge would a blind watchmaker materialist account of origins be more plausible?” Easy, isn’t it, I’d have thought? Under the same circumstances that provides a viable set of reasons for the spontaneous poofing of this post on to your monitor without intelligent origination.