did man come from?
8) intelligent design theory
is that intelligent causes can do things that unintelligent causes cannot
do, and scientific investigation can tell the difference." 71
we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics
and astronomy that have worked to our benefit, it almost seems as if the
universe must in some sense have known that we were coming." 83
What is intelligent design theory?
design theory is a manner of study which seeks to evaluate whether or
not a given subject is the result of intentional, intelligent design. IDT
accommodates materialists to the extent that it fully accepts and explores
all the natural sciences. Yet the point to which materialists object, and
creationists applaud, is the additional willingness of IDT to accept non-materialist
causes if the evidence so warrants.
In studying an object
or event, like the origin of biological life on earth, the basic approach
of IDT is to apply what are essentially three key areas of questioning:
1. Contingency - did
it have to happen?
- did it happen by accident?
3. Specification - did an intelligent agent cause it to happen?
whether or not a product or event was the automatic result of some unintelligent
cause. An event which did not have to happen, but did, is said to be contingent.
In the sky over a beach, for example, clouds in the sky are not contingent.
Due to the dynamics of air currents, temperature, and moisture, that has
to happen. But seeing a cloud in the shape of a perfect "V" would
be contingent. Nothing about the physics of air or moisture necessitate
the generation of perfectly symetrical cloud shapes of consistent thickness.
the probability of the event in question to have happened by chance or by
some other non-intelligent cause. William Dembski states, "Complexity
and probability therefore vary inversely: the greater the complexity, the
smaller the probability." 102
If we only saw that
"V" in the sky, it could have been the result of two jet trails
randomly crossing. But if by now we see a perfect "T" right next
to it (of the same general length and width), it becomes less likely that
random condensation trails are forming what appear to be nicely spaced alphabetic
characters. The more recognizable characters we start to see, the less likely
we are watching accidental cloud formations or con-trails.
lastly, refers to any inherent pattern which might indicate intelligence.
Suppose the letter-like clouds in the sky appear as "VTOE". Initially
this might seem to be vacant of specification. In other words, a sky writer
just practicing his craft could have chosen those letters at random. But
now consider how one might interpret "VTOE" if today also happened
to be national election day.
On election day, "VTOE"
could be argued a likely misspelling of "VOTE". VOTE has specification,
or information which transcends that which would otherwise be random letters
with no discernable purpose. So if you see the letters VTOE in the sky on
election day, it might be a product of (low) intelligence, but an intentional
and probably purposeful product all the same.
How does IDT relate to origins?
On the negative side,
IDT's approach to life's origin is a meeting ground for different mindsets
because of the increasingly apparent falsehood of evolution. The failure
of evolution to explain the available evidence is something on which both
theistic and many non-theistic scientists agree. Previously discussed here,
the six critical tenets of evolution have proven to be otherwise. Modern
science contrarily shows that:
1. Life cannot have
arisen by chance,
do not add to a cell's genetic code to improve it,
3. Multiple life forms do indeed exist which are irreducibly
4. The appearance
of animal types in the fossil record do not follow an inverted pyramid,
but began simultaneously in the Cambrian
5. Animal species are not ever-widening but actually falling
6. There are absolutely no
transitional forms in any fossil record.
On the positive side,
what modern science does show is that there is an incredibly high information
content in biology and in the fabric of the created universe itself. Information
that is unexplainable by chance or natural selection. One of those information-intensive
structures is DNA.
IDT and the origin of DNA
acid, is the foundational molecule of every lifeform on earth. Any single
DNA strand contains the information to direct any one of the trillions of
cells in the host body. It also has the capability of both reproducing and
repairing itself. In the human body, it's a molecular chain approximately
one billion nucleotides in length.
is essentially a string of four specific chemicals; adenine, cytosine, guanine,
and thymine (or A, C, G, and T). If you've seen drawings of the helical
strands of DNA, the nucleotide strings are the lines that join them, sort
of like the bars of a twisting ladder millions of steps high. These have
been compared to lines of computer code, and for good reason.
In computer code (save
for a few types), programmer's language is ultimately reduced to "1"s
and "0"s (related to a switch being "on" or "off").
Looking at a printout of this binary code, there is no principle of mathematics
that controls the resulting pattern of "1"s and "0"s.
For example, the string 10011 is no more mathematically likely than 11101,
or 10101, etc. Their order is dictated, not by the properties of "1"s
and "0"s to arrange themselves, but by what the programmer desired
as an end result - a program that performed some function which he or she
DNA is similar to binary
code, only using combinations of four characters instead of two. The order
in which the four chemicals appear on any given nucleotide strand, likewise,
is not controlled by any law or property of chemistry. Stephen C. Meyer
Because chemical bonds
do not determine the arrangement of nucleotide bases, the nucleotides
can assume a vast array of possible sequences and thereby express many
different biochemical messages. If the properties of matter (i.e., the
medium) do no suffice to explain the origin of information, what does?
In other words, the
sequences ACGT, or TGCA, or TACG, etc..., are all equally possible. There
is nothing in chemistry or physics that dictates how they should order.
If there was, then there would be extremely little variation and the conveyance
of information would be severly limited. Yet it is the overall pattern of
the millions or billions of nucleotides in each of their vast complex and
different orders that executes biology amazingly like binary code within
a computer executes a program.
Now let's apply IDT's
three basic areas of questioning to DNA:
did DNA have to happen; it is a chemical inevitability? No, therefore it
is DNA of sufficient complexity to be considered a statistically impossible
accident? Yes, even an extremely short strand of DNA is far and away complex.
- is DNA reflective of a pattern that indicates information transcendant
of its mere components? Yes, it's contingent and complex colocation of chemicals
executes biology; something that nothing else does and science has yet to
reproduce. Furthermore, there is the possibility still being explored that
DNA works in tandem with membrane patterns and the cytoskeleton or other
organs to function together as a very large-scale irreducible complexity
All of the above is
just part of the reasoning for why DNA is argued to be the result of design.
Additionally, there are many other organs and biological systems for which
a case for design can be made, independent of DNA. When the cases are all
combined, the likelihood of everything being the result of time and
dumb luck is irrational in the extreme.
Two centuries ago, the
English clergyman William Paley likened the nature of life to discovering
a watch on a beach. Based on today's science, it would be more appropriate
to imagine instead a shrinkwrapped motherboard complete with cards and memory
floating ashore. Would
you judge the board (not its delivery method) more likely the product of
chance, or of design?
Well, we found it fully
assembled just floating along in the ocean. We also know all its materials
occur in the ocean or sea bed in some form: silicates, metals, and petroleum.
Yet if it's contingent, complex, and has specification, then it bears
the unmistakable signature of a designer.
Any materialist who
doesn't accept this might sit there all day waiting for the ocean to generate
an upgraded processor, or even a time machine for that matter. If so, let's
hope a design theorist takes the motherboard home, installs it, and goes
on-line to order his materialist friend some pyschological help.
Next: the discussion
continues with IDT as it applies to the nature of the universe.
NEXT: PART 9) IDT on the nature of the universe
Where did the earth come from?
Where did the universe come from?