A Question to both ID Proponents and Proponents of EC (Evolutionary Creationism or Theistic Evolution) About the Concept of Design
It seems to me that the inference to design is something that one can make irrespective of one’s discipline of study or area of expertise. I don’t need to be a scientist to infer design from nature. Many do that without any training in science at all. If that’s the case, can design be regarded as a scientific principle per se? Or is it a broader principle of reasoning that various disciplines can employ, in various degrees?
On his blog (in the series on ‘god of the gaps’ criticisms of ID), my friend Hendrik gives the example of finding several Scrabble tiles placed together in the form of an intelligible sentence. One quite naturally infers design here, but one does not need to be a linguist to do so. Now, one might need the assistance of a linguist if the tiles appear to be in random order, let’s say because the sentence is in a foreign language one does not understand or even recognize. We don’t, however, need the linguist, as linguist, in order to make the step of inferring design. We need the linguist to help us discern if the necessary (but not sufficient) conditions are present in order for us (as non-specialists in the field) to infer design. But we already seem to take the notion of design for granted (and to include things beyond linguistics, such as the existence of the mind of the author, as well as motivations, ideologies, loyalties & commitments, etc.), on the way to asking if the linguistic evidence in question supports our (beyond linguistics) design inference or not.
In short, one’s expertise in a field of study does not seem relevant to the discernment of design in general. It only seems relevant if one is considering whether certain observations (which are best understood by a particular field of study/expertise) support one’s overarching concept of design, which depends on other considerations in addition to the present observations. If the notion of design operates as I’m suggesting, it is not (it seems to me), strictly speaking, a scientific concept (though it can be one to which scientists as people/agents appeal to as a broader, more holistic explanation of reality).
SO, HERE’S MY QUESTION FOR ALL: Do you agree that in the sense I’ve described, science can discern necessary but not sufficient conditions for an inference to Design?
I think it would be interesting to tease this out.
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“Intelligent Design” illustration by Cindy Caldwell
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