Archeologist with simple piece of pottery: Look what I discovered; I wonder who created it.
Scientist: Wow! What a cool pot; who do you think made it?
Biologist with complex piece of DNA code: Look what I discovered; I wonder who created it.
Scientist: Wow! What a crackpot; why does he think someone made it?
It's a good thing the Bible doesn't say God made clay pots. If it did, design-minded archeologists would be out of a job. With little to say about each new find that cannot be turned into a "religious" question, design-inferring archeologists would be relegated to the fate of their like-minded brethren in biology--the realm of "science cannot infer design because design might mean God and science and religion cannot mix." Archeologists be glad; you get to freely infer intelligent design for objects of obvious design but unknown origin without facing the "might mean God" barrier to truth-seeking. In other words, you get to be scientists and logically infer intelligent design--a luxury not to be taken for granted.
Actually, archeologists are not the exception; they are the rule. Scientists of many stripes infer design to explain phenomena of unknown (and unknowable) origin all the time. Forensic scientists, faced with a dead body and no witnesses look for evidence to piece together a historical narrative to explain a past event: was the death accidental (unintelligent causes) or murder (intelligent causation)? Simple. And what about the good folks over at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)? Their name says it all. Although embarrassed at being rightly compared to their like-minded biologist counterparts, these scientists regularly collect evidence in the form of radio signals to determine if the signals are the result of background radiation in space (unintelligent causes), or extraterrestrial intelligence (intelligent causes). Easy. A child can do it.
And biologists? Well, there's the exception to one rule and the imposition of another. Biologists must suppress entertaining any lingering thoughts spurred by logical inferences of design because such thoughts automatically and necessarily lead to "religion" and, unless it's a God-denying religion, that's a bad thing. After all, a respectable scientist having "religious" thoughts hasn't happened since the days of Newton, Boyle, Kepler, Bacon, Pascal, Herschel, Faraday, Joule and, well, you get the idea. It's been a long time since the natural wonder of the beauty of intelligent design in nature could be scientifically expressed without professional and personal recriminations.
The savvy Darwinist will quickly jump in here with a smug smile and reply that the analogy to archeology does not hold. It happens, he says with the certainty of one-sided thinking, that in our human experience we know that humans can, and have, made pottery for generations. And because we can explain the kind of potter with some certainty, archeology never approaches the "might mean God" line. Living systems, on the other hand, are not known to be made by human intelligence, so we have no basis to infer human design, and any suitable intelligence must mean God, and science and religion cannot mix. You see? The inherent "who" problem in origins science is not to be found in archeology, so there is no inconsistency in letting archeology be respectable science and letting intelligent design be respectable religion (if there is such a thing).
But this response misses the point. This response jumps the inquiry directly to the "who" question, bypassing the "what" question without a thought. Yet in archeology, as in all disciplines, the "what" of design alone can be an end in itself, informing a fruitful line of scientific inquiry that otherwise would be missed were the fact of design not granted or the identity of the designer demanded. Even if the potter remains forever unknown, the fact of design-discovery alone gives the archeologist the subject matter of her science. How else is an archeologist to know if she has found a piece of clay or a pot? Without design detection alone (i.e., absent design-er detection) having scientific value, the field of archeology would be dead.
But more importantly, the "because we know there's a human potter" response powerfully confirms exactly the intelligent design theorist's point: design can be recognized because in our human experience we can recognize things for which we know only intelligent agency can accomplish. Our experience of the world shows that what we recognize as design invariably reflects the prior activity of conscious and intelligent persons who may now be hopelessly unknowable. In the case of a clay pot, yes, it was most certainly made by a kind of potter we are familiar with: men or women, who may forever remain unknown. But why must we all pretend ignorance when we consider clay people? Does not the fact of design carry great value independently of knowledge of the designer?
Clay people, like clay pots, carry the unmistakable hallmarks of intelligent design. Conflating the "what" of design with the "who" in biological systems is the illogical and scientifically inconsistent tactic of those philosophically opposed to a divine creative intelligence, i.e., Darwinians who fear a "divine foot in the door" of science. But denying a pot for fear of a potter is not science, and is ultimately no more effective than denying a symptom for fear of a disease. Truth is not changed by the evidence-denying belief in a lie.
Presumably, our Darwinian tutors must think, were it not for "religion" no one would think to infer design in biology. And solely because of a supposed "mighty mean God" mainstream science desperately demands that a biologist must obey a rule that prohibits design detection, while his archeologist colleague freely infers intelligent design. The disparate rules of desperate scientists create an illogical two-tiered system where a biologist is required to attempt a rigorous proof of design, while an archeologist is merely required to say, "Hey, look what I found!" Why is this?
No, really. Why?
Roddy Bullock, a skeptic of Darwinism, is a freelance writer, engineer, lawyer, the Executive Director of the Intelligent Design Network of Ohio and is the author of The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science, published by and available from Access Research Network.
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Copyright (c) 2009 Roddy M. Bullock, all rights reserved. Quotes and links permitted with attribution.
Information on God-believing scientists: http://creationsafaris.com/wgcs.htm
The sentence that starts: "Our experience of the world shows that what we recognize as design invariably reflects the prior activity of conscious and intelligent persons . . ." was adapted from Stephen C. Meyer's new book, Signature in the Cell, DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, (Harper Collins, 2009), p. 16. In Meyer's sentence, the term "information" is used instead of "design".
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