Monday, March 26, 2007

Forgetting an Historic Analytical Process

It is not uncommon to witness the question "Is x designed?" in exchanges with IDists. X can represent a particular organism or, more likely, a biological structure or function of an organism. The answer to the design question is yes but the unasked "What generated the design?" is the more important question. The following is taken from a comment of mine at Telic Thoughts:

Design is evident. Prior to Darwin a natural source was not widely touted because natural selection was not a well known concept. Design was recognized by all and when natural forces were seen as an insufficient explanation rational minds gravitated toward a purposeful, intelligent cause. The Darwinian designer is a natural selection process. Imputing design by IDers entails greater flexibility. The immedate cause may or may not be a process. Purpose may or may not be conflated with underlying natural forces alone. Leaving questions open has the advantage of not closing doors to the implications of future data.

It appears that many of those involved in discussions of intelligent design overlook the fact that standard biological explanations are contingent on the adaquacy of a natural selection explanation. Where evidence of selection is problematic so too are the mainstream arguments linked to it. Many arguments arrayed against intelligent design stand or fall based on the strength of their selection component. For those having difficulty seeing where evidence for intelligent design could come from, take another look at the natural selection paradigm.

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