Re: [asa] Reflections on "Design"

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Fri Oct 12 2007 - 18:33:44 EDT

> 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?

It might be possible in that some things seem to have a particular
function whereas others appear to be simply byproducts of a "desired"
function. E.g., as far as a pearl oyster is concerned, the design of
its shell is to provide a safe home with certain mechanical
properties; humans finding it pretty is an undesigned coincidence.
(However, I think that such things are better arguments for the sort
of design ID wants than the topics selected by ID.) Also, natural
laws do not design themselves, so they are left as undesigned under
this definition (ironically, thus tending to support suggestions of
fine-tuning type design), nor does "function" seem well-defined to me
except in the context of life or other selected goal (e.g., F=gMm/r^2
and F=gMm/r^5 are equally functional as [approximate] laws of gravity,
but only the former allows stable orbits suitable for life).

In summary, design needs to be clearly defined, plus the criteria
advanced by ID advocates do not seem to me to actually address the
questions they want to ask.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Oct 12 18:34:53 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Oct 12 2007 - 18:34:53 EDT