Here, in the ongoing “Who designed the [D]esigner?” time sink, someone brought up the notion of infinite regress. Presumably, they mean that if someone designed the designer, then who designed that someone. At the time, I said it was a silly argument. At a crime scene, you don’t ask, “Who designed the perp?” Unless you are trying to sidetrack critical questions, of course. So here.
I see that agnostic paralegal Dennis Jones agrees with me. Perhaps it’s his legal training? Anyway, finally, I realized that the commenter who makes such an argument is confused about something: Series terminate, according to their nature.
For example, the number1 is the terminus of the natural numbers. It just is. There is no natural number below 1.* If you do not like that, you do not like reality.
Some series terminate because they depend on a higher or larger series at a certain point, one that governs them. That is why there is no further regress within the series itself. For example, a company’s officeholders terminate at the highest point with the CEO.
Who is over the CEO? Well, the business and regulatory climate in which the company operates. Obviously, this is not the same sort of “over” as a higher officeholder would be, though it is just as real. So the governing system can be of a quite different nature from the system it governs. For example, information is of a very different nature from matter. It is measured, for example, in bytes, not mass or energy.
Even if the governing system were an infinite regress, following that regress would not help us understand why the governed system functions the way it does. It functions that way because of the governing system.
But there is no reason to think that there is an infinite regress with respect to design of the universe. Regresses must terminate in a cause of all things. Whether that cause is God is a metaphysical question, but what I have said so far is merely observation and common sense. If someone wishes to claim that there could be an undetected multiverse out there and that, for all we know, it could have an effect on our universe, all I can say is that science deals with observed causes.
If it looks likes something requires an intelligent cause, may be it does. Insisting that, nonetheless, it cannot be so is not an evidence-based position. Nor is insisting on an infinite regression of causes.
(*0 is a placeholder, signifying: No number occupies this position.)