RE: [asa] Reflections on "Design"

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Mon Oct 08 2007 - 13:27:20 EDT

I believe that the question of design, which is purported to be a scientific question, is invariably linked to the ontological question of origins. Surely, the whole of reality is not physical since one has humans exercising free will and, perhaps, more importantly the exercise of free will of a Supreme Being. How does one filter in all these free wills in the temporal development of the universe is clearly an impossible, unfathomable problem and mystery.



From: on behalf of Christine Smith
Sent: Mon 10/8/2007 12:47 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Reflections on "Design"

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 13:37:48 2007

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