Intelligent Design vs Evolution
Been in a debate on a message board. I suck at science, but wanted to see if you guys had any thought into what he has been saying. Below is his comments.
I would appreciate feedback on an idea I've had recently.
One of the criticisms of ID is that it isn't falsifiable. In other words, how do you disprove the claim that an object has been designed? Obviously, we can recognize design -- the pyramids, the statues on Easter Island, etc. -- but I'm not certain it's ever been quantified or defined in an exact way.
Here's my proposed definition for design: Design is present where local forces cannot provide an adequate deterministic or probabilistic explanation for a phenomenon.
Local forces are those forces that are "close enough" to affect the phenomenon. Deterministic or probabilistic implies that one can predict with some degree of certainty how those forces will affect the phenomenon. When a phenomenon falls so far out of the realm of deterministic or probabilistic predictions, it is likely designed.
So, in order to falsify a claim of design, one would need to show how local forces could provide a deterministic (or probabilistic) explanation for the observed phenomenon.
For a moment, let's replace the word "local" with the word "natural", and then revise my original definition for Design.
Design is present where natural forces cannot provide a deterministic or probabilistic explanation for an observed phenomenon.
With this in mind, let's return to our pyramid analogy. Despite not having seen the pyramids being built, we recognize the pyramids are the product of design because natural forces (i.e. wind, rain, sun, etc.) aren't likely to have produced them. In other words, natural forces simply can't provide a sufficient deterministic or probabilistic explanation for the pyramids' existence.
As you probably know, science is about creating models that are capable of predicting (either deterministically or probabilistically)how a certain force will behave. When we model the probable effects of wind, rain, and sun on the natural environment, we don't get the pyramids; therefore, we infer design.
Intelligence is unique in that it never behaves deterministically and seldom probabilistically (i.e. in a manner that we can predict), especially at the individual level. This is why we infer design in phenomenon whose existence cannot be predicted by any model.
This is currently true of the configuration of our universe.
Some would argue that there are deterministic forces in the universe we simply haven't seen yet and, once discovered, these forces will be able to provide a sufficient deterministic explanation for the universe's observed configuration. These people would also argue that, by attributing the universe to an intelligent agent, we might "miss out" on these forces.
Others would argue that, by constantly seeking deterministic explanations, we "miss out" on the possibility of an intelligent agent and the philosophical issues it broaches. Consider, for instance, if we were intent on discovering a deterministic explanation for the pyramids. We might "miss out" on the ancient Egyptians and a whole myriad of anthropological finds.
There are arguments to be made on both sides.
As I've already explained, the fact that we're unable to recreate a particular phenomenon does not negate the possibility of design. For example, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the formula for concrete was lost and not rediscovered for centuries. Yet, man still rightfully inferred that the preponderance of concrete roads throughout Europe was the product of design, even though he couldn't recreate them. A more modern example is SETI, the search for higher order intelligence in the Universe.
Scientists actually have a workable understanding of the process necessary to make a new universe -- that is, the ability to create a singularity. The new supercollider in Europe is capable of reproducing the initial conditions of the Big Bang.
Speaking of the Big Bang, the odds of it creating universe capable of supporting life and other forms of complex matter is exceedingly slim. For instance, if the ratio of electron to protons had deviated from 1 to 10^37, no atoms would've been able to form at any time in the universe. To better understand just how delicate a ratio of 1:10^37 is, consider the following analogy: Cover the entire surface of the United States in dimes and stack them 239,000 miles high (the distance between the earth and the moon). Then, cover a billion more US-sized land masses with the same amount of dimes. Now, throw in one red dime and ask your friend to select a dime at random. The odds of your friends picking the red dime are 1:10^37.
Believe it or not, these ratios become even more delicate once we factor in the cosmological constant. If the energy density of the cosmological constant had deviated from a ratio of 1:10^120, no matter of any kind (including subatomic particles) could have formed at any time in the universe.
These ratios are so delicate that human engineering is incapable of reproducing them; therefore, they constitute some very compelling evidence for the existence of a divine intelligence.
Furthermore, belief in God does not prevent the world from advancing in technology and science. The very notion is asinine. Newton, widely regarded as the greatest scientist who ever lived, was a Christian. Einstein was a Deist. America is the most religious of all the first-world countries and the most scientifically productive.
message board link if you want to message yourself. http://spintopia.com/forum/8-religion-forum/