Friday, July 14, 2006

Recognizing Evidence for Intelligent Design

A post entitled 'Reliable Recognition of an Intelligent Agency' sparked some comments in reaction to it. The post appears at this blogsite. An exchange involving me and another commenter is included. My comments are italicized.

Why should advanced intelligence not have detectable properties not dependent on the nature of the intelligent source?

Why should intelligence possess such properties? The only reasons I can see relate to the efficiency of certain approaches.

Then let me suggest another. Intelligence is detectable in the very nature of this exchange. It is possible to generate the alphanumeric symbols through a source unfamilar with English language encoding conventions but the result will be nonsense. Pets, inanimate objects and toddlers all have key compression capacity. They lack a capacity to generate intelligible messages. A biological counterpart is nucleic acids whose biological utility is a function of their sequential order. Rearranging the codon order of a functional DNA molecule will negate its function without changing its chemical nature. Function is not dependent on chemical identity which is the same for both functional and non-functional nucleic acids. It is related to their selective value; problematic in generating an initial genome, in the absence of intelligence, on prebiotic earth.

Common properties of similar entities can be intelligently inferred through inductive reasoning and recognized deductively.

Except that our sample size is very limited - we only really have one intelligence to examine. Attempting to make an inference based on that is therefore going to run into more or less unavoidable difficulties due to lack of data.

We have a broad array of intelligent capacity and examples of its expression upon which inferences can and have been made. Our sample size of genetic information carriers known to biology is limited to nucleic acids. Not a problem. You analyse what is before you.

This type of approach is common in science. Why would an expression revealing analytical or abstract thought not be considered a sign of intelligence even if a source is unidentified?

Well, firstly you'd have to come up with a rigorous test for "analytical or abstract thought". Then you'd have to check that there could be no false positives (this would presumably be accomplished by mathematical means).

The test entails the capacity of an unguided natural force to generate the sequential order of symbols in conformity with the code at hand to express either this message or the gene expression required of a functional genome.


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