Debunking the Intelligent Design argument?

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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Debunking the Intelligent Design argument?

#1

Post by Phoenix » Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:03 pm

I need some help with the argument below.



"One of the most often heard arguments made by creationists is the Design Argument. First proposed by William Paley, a British Theologian, in the late 1600's the argument is essentially that were one to find a watch on the ground, how would one determine its origin? Here is his own words from which the Intelligent Design argument sprang:


Quote:
...when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive...that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g., that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that, if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner, or in any other order, than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it.

...the inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.



Paley extends this illustration to the natural universe, which he contends must also have been designed by a master intelligence.


Quote:
...every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.



So thats the essence of the Design Argument. Sounds pretty plausible I suppose on the surface...but lets just look at this logic from a different point of view, shall we?

First the weakest arguments against Paley's Design Argument.

1) Even if the Design Argument holds truth, it may be used with equal force to prove polytheism. So this argument cannot prove that there is a single, Christian God.

2) The design argument does not necessarily point to a supernatural being. It is possible that the designer is a natural creature with superior capabilities, so strictly speaking the designer would not be a "god".

3) The Design argument cannot establish the present existence of a master designer. There is no reason to suppose the Master Designer is still alive. He may have died long ago(just as a machine may continue to function long after its manufacturer has died)

Now, the better arguments against the Design Argument.

1) To admit that nature was designed by a God is to admit that God designed, on purpose, Malaria, Smallpox, Earthquakes and Tsunamis, Hurricanes, ect. How can you justify a God who purposefully inflicts natural disasters upon man? This master Designer could very well be a demon or mischievous elf!

2) What does the creationist mean when he says that both natural and man-made objects display the adaption of means to ends? What dos the creationist mean by "end"? If, by "end," the creationist is calling our attention to the regularity in nature, if he is pointing to the uniform behavior of natural entities, then he is simply pointing to examples of identity and causality which are necessary corollaries of existence. There is no argument here; everything, whether man-made or natural, is subject to identity and causality. These characterize all of existence, not merely artifacts. So while it is true that artificial and manufactured objects share the characteristc of resulting in certain ends, this is irrelevant to whether or not they are the product of conscious intent.

What else might the creationist mean by "end"? He may wish to make "end" synonymous with "purpose". When he claims that natural objects display the adaption of means to ends, he may mean that various aspects of nature cooperate in pursuit of a given purpose. But this is flaggrant question begging. It is precisely the existence of purpose in nature that the creationist must demonstrate, so he obviously cannot appeal to the "purpose" in nature as one of his premises.

This brings us to the fundemental objection. The inferential process represented in the design argument is the reverse of what actually occurs. We conclude that a watch is the result of design, not because we see "that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose," but because we know by direct experience that watches are made by men.

Our ability to recognize man-made characteristics depends on our ability to identify characteristics that are NOT found in nature. Now consider the idea that nature itself is the product of design. How could this be demonstrated? Nature provides the basis of comparison by which we distinquish between designed objects and natural objects. We are able to infer the presence of design only to the extent that the characteristics of an object differ from natural characteristics. Therfore, to claim that nature as a whole was designed is to destroy the basis by which we differentiate between artifacts and natural objects. Evidences of design are those characteristics NOT found in nature, so it is impossible to produce evidence of design within the context of nature itself. Only if we first step beyond nature, and establish the existence of a supernatural designer, can we conclude that nature is the result of conscious planning.

Knowledge of god must precede knowledge of natural design, so the design argument has no possibility of success. Appeals to complex and intricate structures, such as the eye, are of no help; the eye does not display characteristics that cannot be accounted for in natural terms, and the similarity between the eye and man-made artifacts is irrelevant. Natural and man-made objects also share the common trait of coloration, but this is no reason to suppose that there exists a master painter-dyer!!"

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Re: Debunking the Intelligent Design argument?

#2

Post by Kurieuo » Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:45 pm

Phoenix wrote:Now, the better arguments against the Design Argument.
There is a writing at http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... .php?t=187, which I wrote with Jac that should answer these "better arguments." As for the lesser arguements:
1) Even if the Design Argument holds truth, it may be used with equal force to prove polytheism. So this argument cannot prove that there is a single, Christian God.

2) The design argument does not necessarily point to a supernatural being. It is possible that the designer is a natural creature with superior capabilities, so strictly speaking the designer would not be a "god".

3) The Design argument cannot establish the present existence of a master designer. There is no reason to suppose the Master Designer is still alive. He may have died long ago(just as a machine may continue to function long after its manufacturer has died)
1) I would think similar design would indicate away from polytheism; 2) the kalam cosmological argument would point to the "supernatural," or perhaps even one accepting that "we" really do exist; and 3) what is death, but the physical dying? Given response 2 here, an assumption would be required to deduce what is true of the physical also applies to the non-physical.

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#3

Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Fri Jul 15, 2005 8:55 pm

Code: Select all

2) The design argument does not necessarily point to a supernatural being. It is possible that the designer is a natural creature with superior capabilities, so strictly speaking the designer would not be a "god". 
As Kuriendo was hinting at with kalum argument-that natural being would require a designer.
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#4

Post by Phix » Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:58 am

Maybe we can debunk Intelligent Design by
  • 1] Clarifying intelligence.
  • 2] Proposing grand organizing design as the working theory.
Do I need to explain the difference? I am new here.

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Creative design

#5

Post by weaverweaver » Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:32 pm

I am curious what you mean by those designations. I believe truly in creative design. I believe this because unlike some of the posts i have read here (one in a different category suggested scientists have improved their equipment and knowledge and now see that evolution is faulty...this is far from the case, the opposite actually) there is so much evidence to the contrary. I am not a science professor or researcher or anything. I just got enraged when i would get the hint from non-believers that they feel we are stupid.
So i read up on it. I read magazine articles, text books that they were offering on college campuses, television programs. The wondrous puzzle that God set before us. The evidence is such that it can't be ignored. Anti-evolutionists but good christians are only hurting our ranks by claiming it doesn't happen. One of the most compelling examples that it does happen is the existence of Schnauzers and the different diseases that affected only certain races. We as humans acted to change the wolf into what is now schnauzers, german shepards, etc. There is a ring species of bird around the northern regions of the world...in one area there are two breeds that cant mate. If you go in one direction one species is common. As you continue around, it gradually becomes the other species, interbreeding as they go around. But by the time you get back to the starting point again, they arre so different, they can no longer interbreed.
And human diseases. Only portions of a certain jewish population are affected by tay-Sachs disease, a genetic disease. same thing for certain African populations and Sickle Cell anemia.
these are thee bits of evidence that tell me God wanted us to find out his puzzle.

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#6

Post by Phix » Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:42 pm

these are thee bits of evidence that tell me God wanted us to find out his puzzle.Back to top
It seems to me that we are definitely on the same page. Maybe we can work together to zero in on the correct answers. I do see this entire process as two childhood games, "Connect The Dots" and "Jigsaw Puzzles" What do you think?

As a matter of fact I have posted some arguments at "Quoteland.com" If you'd like, you can check those out also.

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#7

Post by Phix » Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:51 pm

I am curious what you mean by those designations
My point about intelligence is this.
  • Intelligence is a tool that allows us to piece together the puzzle. Each piece represents a principle or truth.
Reality is the complete puzzle and we come to know it by examining and intergrading truth.
  • The Design or G.O.D. is the source or matrix for the puzzle.

    If God determines what the complete puzzle will be then "intelligent" design is incorrect. God does not need to study reality, God is the source of reality, only man needs to study it, in so doing he comes to understand the nature of God. The best term that we have to describe God is Omni - etc. This prefix signifies completeness or wholeness. Holiness. This is the goal of man but the quality of God. Do you follow?

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#8

Post by waynes world » Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:53 pm

Phoenix haven't I seen you someplace before? In fact I think I've seen this thread before?

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#9

Post by Deborah » Mon Aug 15, 2005 9:05 pm

There is one thing we must remember.
We are not the Judge and we are not the defence team.
We have not been called upon to judge those who do not believe, nor have we been called upon to defend God. god does not need help in being defended. therefore why do we find it nessasary to defend and argue that god is the creater. God knows it's his creation, and as his creations god knows what is in all our hearts.
Church tradition tells us that when John, son of Zebadee and brother of James was an old man, his disciples would carry him to church in their arms.
He would simply say, “Little children, love one another”
After a time his disciples wearied at always hearing these same words and asked “Master why do you always say this?
He replied, “it is the Lords command, and if done, it is enough”

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Debunking Intelligent Design

#10

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Mon Aug 29, 2005 9:52 am

You cannot Debunk Intelligent Design, if you think you can you do not understand science.

On the flip side, the reason Intelligent design cannot be discussed in a scientific journal is because of the same reason. You cannot disprove it so therefore it is not in the realm of scientific thinking. What you beleive is what you beleive no-one can dispute a beleif scientifically without concrete evidence.

You cannot try to prove it by disproving science, because that is exactly what science is based on disproving ideas. Science is not a series of truths but rather a series of what they have discovered to not be true. Disprove a theory and all you do is open up the door to new theories. Science is not religion you cannot topple it by disproving a major theory.

Do not focus on such petty things. It is better to spend your time making this world a better place than try to convince each other what you think is the ultimate truth. You cannot possibly know the truth, be humble and live a good life.

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#11

Post by August » Mon Aug 29, 2005 5:53 pm

You cannot Debunk Intelligent Design, if you think you can you do not understand science.
Seems like you understand neither ID nor the scientific method very well. Please give your summary of what you understand ID to be.
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#12

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:32 am

August wrote:
You cannot Debunk Intelligent Design, if you think you can you do not understand science.
Seems like you understand neither ID nor the scientific method very well. Please give your summary of what you understand ID to be.
Intelligent Design is the use of pattern recognition to prove that a designer has to have been involved. But the problem is that patterns do not necessarily point to a designer. Not only that, even if there are patterns the conclusion is a leap of faith. Consider it circumstantial evidence. It may be objective and logical but this is not a scientific thought process.

It is as valid as saying that life arose in a primordial soup. A popular theory but again a leap of faith.

The fact that evolution occurs is practically undeniable. Theories surrounding its cause are up for scrutiny, however any ideas which cannot be tested are not within the realm of science.

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#13

Post by August » Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:04 pm

Intelligent Design is the use of pattern recognition to prove that a designer has to have been involved.
Maybe I'm just misunderstanding what it is you mean by "pattern recognition". Can you perhaps clarify what it is you mean by that? ID is not "pattern recognition", per se, since there are different types of "patterns". ID theory holds that specified complexity is the result of an intelligent agent. Other sciences, like forensics, have similar reasoning.
But the problem is that patterns do not necessarily point to a designer.
Like I said above, it depends what you mean by "pattern". Can you give some examples, maybe it wll help me understand your reasoning a bit better.
Not only that, even if there are patterns the conclusion is a leap of faith. Consider it circumstantial evidence. It may be objective and logical but this is not a scientific thought process.
What conclusion are you referring to? Is it the conclusion that an intelligent agent best explains the observation? How is that not a scientific thought process? It follows: observation -> hypothesis-> experiment -> conclusion
The fact that evolution occurs is practically undeniable.
Back to definitions :) If you mean to say that evolution means that change happens over time, I am in full agreement. If you mean to say that Darwinian evolution is a fact, we differ.
Theories surrounding its cause are up for scrutiny, however any ideas which cannot be tested are not within the realm of science.
I have lost you a bit here. How do you reconcile the fact that it occurs, with the statement that the mechanisms are unaccounted for? What about quantum physics, is that science? ID can be tested, however:

"Intelligent design theory predicts: 1) that we will find specified complexity in biology. One special easily detectable form of specified complexity is irreducible complexity. We can test design by trying to reverse engineer biological structures to determine if there is an "irreducible core." Intelligent design also makes other predictions, such as 2) rapid appearance of complexity in the fossil record, 3) re-usage of similar parts in different organisms, and 4) function for biological structures. Each of these predictions may be tested."
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

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//christianskepticism.blogspot.com

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#14

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:34 pm

Such things as rapid evolution and irreducible complexity are merely limitations to current understanding.
It may point to a god but science cannot say for sure that it is God who is the cause.

In other words within the paradigm of science we cannot reach a road block and use that as an explanation.

Lets go back to the medevial period. For example, the mechanics of the orbits of the planets could not be completely worked out within the restrictions of then current understanding untill the discoveries of Newton were extrapolated to the heavenly bodies.

Darwinian Evolution is in the past.
As should be expected, theories are constantly in flux to account for new evidence.

Yes evolution is a fact as you stated however the cause for it is still being worked out.

Lets say you are correct and that there is indeed an intelligent designer behind the workings of evolution. Every new discovery will be covered because there are no limitations to the designer. This explanation can and will predict any and all outcomes. And this explanation does nothing to foster any new discoveries or practical purposes other than reconcile Christianity with science.

I pose that science is not at odds with Christianity.

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#15

Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:40 pm

You really don't know what you're talkling about. Astronomy is operational science, evolution and ID are origin science. Also, ID isn't made out of ignorance, it's made out of what we currently know (such as the fact that mutation rates don't allow for rapid evolution...and their is no reason to say it happenned either.
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