Re: [asa] Reflections on "Design"

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Oct 08 2007 - 12:26:43 EDT

Definitely a basic problem here is the definition of design. Do we
define it as direct action of an intelligent agent, indirect action of
an intelligent agent, something fitting a particular function
regardless of the intelligence involved, etc.?

Thus, one might say that a leaf is designed to function to gather
solar energy and convert it to chemical energy, even though
(regardless of one's views on evolution) the plant and its genes, etc.
that produce the leaf are not intelligent as far as can be determined.
 Determining physical functions can be done by an atheist.

Whether an object is intentionally modified by a human (or possibly
another animal) or not can be assessed with reasonable confidence,
based on observing (a) what humans do and (b) what other organisms,
physical forces, etc. do. Motive can be a bit trickier-I recall a
book on archaeology noting that a regular arrangement of objects,
frequently explained as ritual, could just as easily arise from kids
playing. Again, this could be done by an atheist, although he would
have some difficulty in assigning particular significance to the
differences between humans and other organisms.

Detection of design in the universe as ID, Dawkins, etc. want to do
(with different desired results) likewise requires knowing what the
designer in question would or would not do and what alternative causes
could achieve.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon Oct 8 12:33:15 2007

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