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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Machinations of Intelligent Design

Posted in response to an Intelligent Design (I-D) comment on Slashdot in the thread "What do you believe but cannot prove?"

Evolution and guidance are mutually exclusive terms. Development based on guidance is not evolution, as evolutionary development is by definition a process that does not involve guidance.

No, as a matter of fact, evolutionary natural selection is guidance. The core difference between I-D and Evolution is that I-D proposes that the guidance is self-aware though they don't usually single out that aspect of it, for that is not what any of the data they use in argument for I-D actually shows, even where I-D proponents interpretation of it is accurate.

The term intelligent does not have to include self-aware, as natural selection can itself be seen as an intelligent and a design process. One definition of "intelligent" is "the ability to aquire and apply information," which is an accurate description of a mechanistic DNA-selected-by-natural-selection process. And virtually none of the ID arguments are inconsistent with a purely mechanistic definition of intelligence or design, NONE of their arguments, even if accurate interpretations of data (which many are not), actually require the intelligence to be self-aware. But they neglect to mention that particular detail as it undermines the religious case they are trying to make. In doing so, they reveal the religious, unscientific nature of their motivations.

Soon, this will force I-D proponents into the corner of claiming that since the mechanical intelligence of "artificial intelligence" was constructed by self-aware programmers, that the mere existence of a mechanistic design process in nature would require some form of self-aware designer, the same old unsupportable "watchmaker" argument (which is indeed all the ID argument is), in a slightly different form. But it is ludicrous to say that because someone designed a simulation means they designed the system being simulated-- that is like saying that the designer of a wind tunnel should be credited with the design of the physics that produces lift. By insistently ignoring the fact that randomness filtered by virtually any selection processes will produce a reduction in randomness and thereby produce structure, the colossal ignorance of such a position becomes truly mind-boggling. But they must ignore this inconvenient fact, as it alone lets the hot air out of the ID argument-- if self-awareness is not a requirement of the "intelligence" or "design" of the ID theory, most if its proponents will lose interest in it.

It's truly a pity that their God's omnipotence falls short of the ability to create an automated universe. And particularly, since that is the kind of universe in which we live.