The storm rages (or fizzles) on. Intelligent design is creationism in disguise, theistic evolution is true but one cannot prove it by detecting design, and naturalistic evolution is still the ad-populum argument for atheism.
But what is design (the D-word) really? And can we argue that it is creationism in disguise?
There are of course a few definitions for design, but it seems to be appropriate in these discussions to define it as someone or something, with a predetermined outcome in mind, put forth some specifications for what that outcome should look like. As an engineer myself, I used to do that all the time…calculate and draw up designs from a statement of work, or, to use a military term, a required operational capability. But there had to be a starting point, some idea of where we wanted to go before we could add the numbers etc. Building and testing what was designed was a whole other mess.
I’m not always impressed with ID (Intelligent Design) being labeled as “creationism”. As a creationist, I don’t think it goes far enough. It kind of hinges on the edge of being useful. Because the one thing that evolution proposes that ID doesn’t, is a mechanism by which what we see (and what we are) has come to be. I can design things all day long, but without an artisan to put those designs into a working physical form, those designs are completely useless. One can see why there are supporters of theistic evolution, however flawed that compromise might be.
I guess one could argue that detecting design is a useful exercise, and may disprove one of the assumptions of the naturalistic movement, that of ontological naturalism…or does it? In efforts to keep ID immune from accusations that it is nothing but thinly disguised creationism, it has been proposed that a designer might be aliens. Which of course begs the question, where did the aliens come from? And in the absence of evidence, it is a similar commitment to that of a creator God. In other words, we are no closer to solving the ontological dilemma.I will add that the same holds true for the naturalistic atheist side, a belief in a multiverse is equally without proof.
In the end, we know very little. Do I think that the universe was designed? Sure. Do I think we can detect that it was designed? Sure. Do I think that we are all the result of a mindless random process? Most assuredly not. Do I have an alternative process by which we came to be? Sure, but it sure as heck isn’t scientific by current standards.
See, the problem is that something had to kick it all off. Something had to come from nothing, somewhere in the past, regardless of what position you hold. Time cannot be eternal past. Is the argument then how things developed from the first coming into existence until now, billions of years later, or is it the first appearance of existence, or both? We have options…
- Something came from nothing. No go, because, nothing, well, means nothing.
- Something came from something. What is/was the second something?
- God created the universe from nothing. And here we have to stop and ask about mechanism. Because although one can design things with an outcome in mind, without hands and materials it is meaningless.
And this is where I feel that the current discussion ends. We simply don’t know. Design theory sure as heck ain’t gonna tell us. Non theistic evolution grinds to a halt pre-life. We simply cannot comprehend how something can come from nothing. Our whole life revolves around cause and effect.
As a creationist I of course believe that God created it all. He said it and it came to pass, instantly. God’s perspective of course is a lot different. He did not design with an outcome in mind. The outcome was there at the same time as the design, as God eternal is outside of our time dimension. God did not first put out a statement of work, and then calculated a drew the whole universe out, and then called up His Heavenly artisans to chop, hammer and fit together the whole universe. No, it was all complete in both design and existence at the same time. Of course, being subject to the temporal world, we perceive it a lot differently.
So while I believe that ID is useful to expose the limitations of non-theistic evolutionary mechanisms, it does not go far enough in trying to determine how design became existence.