Friday, December 15, 2006


Paley IX

Paley continues rebutting anticipated objections to the design inference from watch to watchmaker:

'Nor, fifthly, would it yield his enquiry more satisfaction to be answered, that there existed in things a principle of order, which had disposed the parts of the watch into their present form and situation. He never knew a watch made by the principle of order; nor can he even form to himself an idea of what is meant by a principle of order, distinct from the intelligence of the watch-maker.'

In other words, the suggestion that some law of nature is responsible for the specified and irreducible complexity of a watch is not a better explanation than intelligent design because it is an ad hoc 'non-intelligent designer' of the gaps! Such a hypothesis is contradicted by our uniform experience of the cause and effect structure of the world. Laws of nature can produce specified but non-complex things and complex but unspecified things, but we do not have experience of nature producing specified complexity. Indeed, in our experience, specified complexity always tracks back to intelligent design.

'Sixthly, he would be surprised to be informed, that the mechanism of the watch was no proof of contrivance, only a motive to induce the mind to think so.'

That is, the we all know that the appearance of design in a watch is not merely subjective - the watch is not, to use Richard Dawkins' term, 'designoid' (i.e. something giving the superficial an deasily undermined appearence of design but which is not designed). The watch gives every indication of being designed - because of the type of complexity it exhibits - and if the watch is designoid then material things simply cannot be configured in such a way as to provide objective evidence for intelligent design! Clearly, we can garner objective evidence for intelligent design from at least some matterial arrangements - because the watch is just such a case, as everyone would have to admit. Hence, if we find something that exhibits the same or greater evidence for design as is exhibited by the watch, the inference to design would be likewise justified in such further cases. For example, consider a car or a computer. The significant question, of course, then becomes whether or not any such design inference justifying arrangement of matter can be discovered within nature...

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