Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Intelligent Design - Identifying the "Designer"

ID really doesn’t make any sense if the identity of the “designer” is unknown.

Consider two alternatives: God or an intelligent “alien” life form.

If God is the designer, then supernatural means were used and there isn’t really any reason to learn anything about the mechanisms used.

On the other hand, if aliens are the “designers” then presumably some sort of naturalistic mechanism was employed. In that case we might be able to learn that mechanism and use it ourselves.

Moreover, our natural curiosity would force us to try to learn the identity of the designer.

To support this claim, I will use the example of the book and movie “2001 – A Space Odyssey” again. The majority of the story is about a space voyage. During that voyage a computer named HAL goes berserk and kills most of the humans on board. Only one human – Dave – survives.

What, exactly, was the purpose of that voyage?

The book goes into greater detail about that than does the movie. It seems that the stone monolith described in the book and movie was buried underground. When the sun first hits the top of the monolith after the astronauts had uncovered it, a directional radio signal is released. The scientists monitoring the monolith can tell that the radio signal is sent at Jupiter. It seems reasonable that whoever the designers were, there is something about Jupiter that would help identify them. So the decision is made to send a space mission to Jupiter.

In other words, the entire purpose of the space mission (that ends up going so horribly wrong) is to make contact with the designers of the Intelligently Designed monolith!

So the book and movie – though admittedly fictional – portray the reaction that Arthur C. Clarke predicted that humans would have in response to finding an Intelligently Designed (but not human designed) item somewhere. They would search for the designer.

I doubt that his prediction was off-base. I think that anyone who gives it any thought would agree. This “the identity of the designer is unimportant” argument is not realistic.

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