Intelligent Design is not Design!

A lengthy scholarly discussion by my friend Michael Roberts of the concept of design, from Paley to the present day, making important distinctions between different concepts of design, and placing the Intelligent Design (ID) movement in context. The author, a geologist and historian (and CofE priest), argues that Paley’s concept of the individual design of organisms was obsolete long before Darwin, given the discoveries of deep time and the rich sequential fossil record. Present-day ID is a curious hybrid, and its evolution is discussed in some detail. However, neither the refutation of Paley nor the demolition of ID affect broader design arguments, such as that from fine-tuning or the glory of the natural world. (Disclosure: as my friends will know, I do not find these latter arguments convincing, but I do consider them worthy of respect, and have criticised attempts to use them as justification for evolution-denying creationism, which is not.)

Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin

Old Scratch

58729698-victorian-engraving-of-megatherium

A SHORT HISTORY OF DESIGN Michael Roberts

The first thing I should do is to define what Design is. That would be no easy task as the word is used in so many different ways to mean so many different things. I hope some of the variety of meanings comes clear in this paper. Part of the confusion is that Design can be synonymous with the teleological argument for the existence of God, but often it is more restricted to biological structures. Hence Design means different things to different people. Distinguishing between these meanings is important as confusion reigns when one switches from one to another. To give a rough typology there are four types of design;

1 Design of the universe; – front-loading or teleological (fine tuning)

2. Guidance of natural processes through history; Asa Gray

3. Ahistorical recognition of biological structures as designed; Hooke, Paley,

4…

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About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on March 19, 2016, in Accommodationism, Charles Darwin, Creationism, Evolution, Fossil record, Geology, Religion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Two points which are not often discussed.
    Design is not enough to account for the existence of something.
    The fallacies of composition and division.

    Whatever design is – and the advocates of ID are not clear what they mean – it takes more than proposing a design to come up with a product. The designers of the Superconducting Supercollider did a whole lot of design. Ptolemy designed a world. The “Penrose triangle” is designed.

    In the 18th century, many of the arguments for ID were used in support of Preformationism, the theory that each individual living thing was individually created, not the product of generation. If one believes that all things are creatures of God, that has nothing to say about the origin of species. The Bible has nothing to say about the origins of species – God created individuals.

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