RE: Design as Concept, Sign, and Production

Jonathan Warren (
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 20:35:46 +1000

Bill Demski wrote (in part);

> The next question about design is whether it also constitutes a sign.
> Design in this sense denotes what it is about intelligently produced
> objects that enables us to tell that they actually are intelligently
> produced. When intelligent agents act (and however they act, whether
> through direct intervention or through a fully gifted creation), they
> behind a characteristic trademark or signature. The scholastics used to
> refer to the "vestiges in creation." The Latin vestigium means footprint.
> It was thought that God, though not directly present to our senses, had
> nonetheless left his "footprints" throughout creation. Hugh Ross has
> referred to the "fingerprint of God." It is design in this sense--as a
> trademark, signature, vestige, or fingerprint--that the various criteria
> for identifying intelligently caused objects are meant to recognize (cf.
> Behe's irreducible complexity, my specified complexity, Schützenberger's
> functional complexity). I would say that if there is one defining feature
> of the intelligent design movement, it is that it takes design as a sign.

Could this not also operate in reverse? If we have systems that
seem not to be thought out very well, does that argue against their
having been designed by an intelligent agent, whether directly or
indirectly? I give the example of the sex life of the female spotted
hyena - refer to the following link for details;

(To summarise the salient points in the article, female spotted hyenas
have a pseudopenis, through which they must give birth. The pseudopenis
tears to allow passage of the pup, and first labors can take up to 48
hours. The umbilical cord is only six inches long, whilst the birth
canal is a foot long. Three quarters of first pups die during birth,
along with many mothers.)

If this system does not have the hallmarks of intelligent design, but
seems to have arisen by chance, does this constitute a "negative sign?"


Jon Warren.