Re: [asa] Reflections on "Design"

From: Christine Smith <>
Date: Mon Oct 08 2007 - 12:47:23 EDT

Hi Savid,

See responses below...

--- David Campbell <> wrote:

> 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.

The question as posted by abc essentially would then
say that the function of the leaf was "designed" by
evolution (if you take evolution to be a natural law).
He was basically postulating, as far as I understood
the question, that natural laws act as the "designer",
and then given this--how do we (can we?) draw a line
between designed and undesigned? (i.e. Can we, or by
what criteria do we, say for example that a building
is designed and an ocean isn't?) So I don't think that
functionality could be used as a criteria to draw this
line in his scenario because everything in nature has
some type of "function", wouldn't you agree?

> 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.

I think "motive" is different from the word I used,
which was "intent". Motive is an extrapolation from
intent; I think to be established as "designed" one
does not need to know the motive--they just need to
establish intent--intent being defined as something
that is willed, regardless of the reason behind the
will. Thus, if I walked into the woods and observed
cinder blocks outlining a square shape, I would not
need to know the motive behind such an action to
establish that such an action constitutes design.

In Christ,

> --
> 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 13:01:46 2007

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