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What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby The Four One Four » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:10 pm

What are some examples of intelligent design in nature, organisms, or human psychology that you find clearly point to God's existence?
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:12 pm

None of the example "clearly point to God's existence." What they do is say that belief in a designer is a reasonable conclusion.

Brandon Carr and Martin Rees: "The basic features of galaxies, stars, planets, and the everyday world are essentially determined by a few microphysical constants and by the effects of gravitation….several aspects of our Universe—some of which seem to be prerequisites for the evolution of any form of life—depend rather delicately on apparent 'coincidences' among the physical constants." For example, if the force of gravity were even slightly stronger, all stars would be blue giants; if even slightly weaker, all would be red dwarfs; in neither case could life have developed. The same goes for the weak and strong nuclear forces; if either had been even slightly different, life, at any rate life even remotely similar to the sort we have, could probably not have developed."

Even more interesting in this connection is the so-called flatness problem: the existence of life also seems to depend very delicately on the rate at which the universe is expanding. Stephen Hawking says that "reduction of the rate of expansion by one part in 10^12 at the time when the temperature of the Universe was 10^10 K would have resulted in the Universe starting to recollapse when its radius was only 1/3000 of the present value and the temperature was still 10,000 deg"—much too warm for comfort. Hawking concludes that life is possible only because the universe is expanding at just the rate required to avoid collapse. At an earlier time, the fine-tuning had to be even more remarkable: "We know that there has to have been a very close balance between the competing effect of explosive expansion and gravitational contraction which, at the very earliest epoch about which we can even pretend to speak (called the Planck time, 10^-43 sec. after the big bang) would have corresponded to the incredible degree of accuracy represented by a deviation in their ratio from unity by only one part in 10^60" (- John Polkinghorne). Paul Davies: "The fact that these relations are necessary for our existence is one of the most fascinating discoveries of modern science."

I also have these five points just about our sun:

1. Our solar system is a solitary solar system. Most stars in the universe are in groups. If this were the case with our solar system, and we had, say, two stars, life on Earth could not exist because of the huge fluctuations in temperature as Earth orbited these stars.

2. Our star is the right kind and right size in that it is not too hot or too cold. A red super-giant like Betelgeuse would be too massive; a blue-white star like Rigel emits 25,000 times more light than our sun and too much radiation.

3. Radiation. Most star of similar size to our sun produce massive radiation flares that would kill all life on earth.

4. Our distance from the sun. If Earth were any more than 5% closer we would fry, and any more than 5% away and we would freeze.

5. The sun flips its polarity every 11 years or so. It’s a large-scale process that takes place over a few months. It creates, among other things, more activity on the sun, and it affects the earth’s magnetic fields. It doesn’t harm the earth; in fact, it could even protect the planet in some ways, scientists have said. The sun’s huge “current sheet”—a surface extending out from the sun’s equator—becomes wavier as the poles reverse. The sheet’s crinkles can create a better barrier against the cosmic rays that can damage satellites, other spacecraft and people in orbit. (http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/11/ ... p=features)

These are a few of possible examples.
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby Hand in Glove » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:28 pm

If an all-powerful being wished to create a universe with intelligent life in it He could do so any way he damn well pleased—atoms could be made of popcorn and planets from dirty underpants and there would still be intelligent life if He so decreed it.

Fine tuning arguments say nothing about an intelligent designer, I'd say, if you pursue them to their logical conclusion they actually make one less likely (http://atheism.wikia.com/wiki/Fine_Tuning_Argument).
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Sep 10, 2015 4:40 pm

All you have come upon is the reality that sometimes very very smart people disagree with each other when it comes to philosophical science. Your link acknowledges that the fine tuning argument is advocated by a half dozen brilliant people, and yet he proposes a rebuttal to their argument. So is it bias that motivates you to choose your author over the half a dozen others? The arguments by Swinburne and Plantinga are as worthy as the arguments by your link, so it's a matter of what the reader chooses to believe more than the actual strength of the arguments.

When it comes right down to it, the essence of the argument from design filters down to this: We know that we are not alone in the world because we know there are other people in it. We also believe that they have a mind that can reason, feel, remember, intuit, etc. Yet when it comes right down to it, I have absolutely no concrete evidence of what is going on in anyone else's mind. I can never really tell if they think, what they are truly feeling, if their pain is real and what it is like, etc., and yet I suppose it's true. I can never determine by observation that someone else is in a particular mental state. I was being fitted for glasses not long ago, and the doctor had to keep asking me what I was seeing. No matter how fancy his equipment is, he can never truly know what it is that I see.

I can construct a sound inductive argument for the conclusion that I am not the only being that thinks and reasons, has sensations and feelings—an argument whose premises state certain facts about my own mental life and about physical objects around me (including human bodies), but do not entail the existence of minds or mental states that are not my own. This analogy is as good an answer as we have to the question "Do we know, and how do we know, the thoughts and feelings of others?" When it comes right down to it, other minds are inaccessible to me, and their attributes (like pain or sight) are similarly inaccessible. I have no observational proof of them. And yet we live life fully convinced that there are other people, that they have thoughts and feelings, and that our perceptions and analyses of such things are both reasonable and to varying extents accurate. We generally accept what people say at face value. If they say they went for a walk yesterday, we assume some truth and infer by attitude that he did indeed go for a walk. Humans can remember past actions and learn language.

This argument is like the teleological argument for the existence of God, though nothing is lock-tight. I cannot perceive someone else's mental state of pain, nor can I determine by observation that someone is in pain, and yet I nevertheless have or can easily acquire evidence that some other person is in pain and that some person is feeling pain in a bodily area in which I feel nothing. Concrete scientific evidences ultimately fail. With so many variables, what the analogy holds here is that for any person there are direct arguments for the propositions in question, and given that there is no comparable evidence against them, they must be more probable than not on his total evidence. The bulk of my commonsense beliefs about minds and mental states must be more probable than not on my total evidence. I have evidence that other sentient beings exist, but that's not enough to confirm that they experience anger, joy, depression, and pain, as well as hold beliefs. It's neither necessary nor possible that I am able to observe such entities to be able to assume truth.

So is the belief in God rational (which is what the argument from design claims)? The atheist has no argument to substantiate their own position. The teleological answer is strong, though not air-tight, but far more satisfactory than anything an atheist has ever offered. Given that there are no completely provable positions, we must conclude that a person may rationally hold a contingent, corrigible belief in the existence of a deity even if there is no answer to the relevant epistemological question. The strongest version of the teleological arg:

1. We don’t know of anything that shows purposeful design that wasn’t purposefully designed. Whenever we know of something that exhibits purpose (a reason for why it exists or why something happened the way it did), and whenever we know whether it not it was the product of intelligent design (somebody thought it up and made it happen), it was indeed the designed product of an intelligent being. Whether a watch, a washer, or a window, if we can infer that there was a purpose behind it, it’s safe to say that an intelligent being designed it for that purpose, or at least for a purpose.

2. There are many parts of the universe, the earth, and life as we know it that exhibit purpose—not just parts of the universe exhibit purpose, though, but the universe itself.

3. Therefore, it's logical to assume that the universe may probably be the product of intelligent design. Everything else we know that exhibits those characteristics was indeed designed; why should the universe be treated any differently?

If my belief in other minds is rational, so is my belief in God. The argument from design is a sound one, though others may give sound refutations and arguments as well. Each person has to examine the evidence and make their own decisions, but pursued to their logical conclusions, the rationality of a designer is not less likely than no designer. Even in that article it said that 99.9999999 percent of the universe was hostile to life. Odd that our little speck is well-suited to it. That all by itself calls for the question, "How did that happen?" One oasis in the middle of an endless desert calls for more explanation than, "Gee, that was lucky."
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby hand in Glove » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:57 pm

Assuming and behaving as if other humans function in a similar way to ourselves is a valid way to go about things as, as much as anything, it works, day in and day out, billions of times a day for billions of people.

Assuming the existence of God does not work in that same way. It is not comparable.
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:10 pm

Without trying to be rude, I think you've missed the point. The point of the analogy was to affirm that day in and day out, billions of times a day for billions of people, we live fully convinced of perceptions and analyses without any solid evidence, because when it comes right down to, evidence for such things (as someone else's mental state, pain level, etc.) is impossible to have. But we function just fine living that way and assume that we have knowledge—and many times, rightly so (but still no evidence). My following point, then, was that intelligent design doesn't clearly point to the existence of God, but shows that belief in a God is just as rational as my belief in other minds. So they are perfectly comparable.

In addition, it turns out that knowing God involves the same kind of knowing that we already do; it's not fundamentally any different from knowing my mechanic or my roommate. We can discuss this more as you like (if you want), but you must know that even when it comes to knowing my mechanic or my roommate, formulating foolproof criteria for certainty and knowledge hasn't been successful. We learn to rely on learned clues to focus on coherent patterns, and discern them to be what we call reality. It turns out that the reasoning behind the existence of God, and the reasoning involved in knowing God, is exactly the same as our day-in and day-out lives, and how we know anything about other people (and anything in general, for that matter). If you wish to pursue this conversation, I'd be glad to.
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby Hand in Glove » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:32 pm

> evidence for such things (as someone else's mental state, pain level, etc.) is impossible to have

Outcomes. It works. Hypothesis is successful on the available evidence.

> In addition, it turns out that knowing God involves the same kind of knowing that we already do

An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God? I don't see Him anywhere. The hypothesis fails on the available evidence.
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:55 pm

Thankfully truth is not dependent on what *you* see. We are all very well aware that sometimes our senses deceive us. A building looks square from a distance, but as you get closer you can tell it's round. Your eyes tricked you. Sometimes you think you hear someone behind you, but you turn and no one is there. While our senses can be very useful when it comes to gathering and analyzing information, ultimately they cannot be universally trusted. There are many other times, in addition, where we perceive something with our senses and yet don't understand what it is we are seeing, hearing, touching, or tasting, so senses don't necessarily also lead to comprehension. Another example that the fact that you don't see God anywhere doesn't mean the hypothesis fails. You are probably also aware of the phenomena where you see something several times, and only after repeated sightings do you have a eureka moment about what it was you were seeing. Do you remember those computer-generated 3-D pictures of a decade ago or so where you actually had to learn how to see it to even tell what it was? And once you learned how, a 3-D picture emerged out of colored geometric pattern, and now it made sense. The hypothesis that "knowing God involves the same kind of knowing that we already do" isn't even close to failing on your criteria.

On the other hand, truth doesn't make sense until it is engaged by the mind. Truth is always personal. It's something someone claims, or someone appropriates. All truth is somebody's truth. Even 2+2=4 involves a human agent.

But that leaves us with a conundrum. Since we can only perceive truth through personality, but since our senses have been known at times to deceive us, how can we know that what we know is so? We all learn to rely on certain clues that we consider to be reliable, and even some that we consider to be so substantial they are undeniable. At the end of the day, there are important parts of knowing that can’t be expressed in words.

Suppose you make a friend through the Internet. Let's suppose it's me. You never see me anywhere. You just see words on a page that represent my thoughts to you. Suppose we do this for 20 years, over hundreds of written interactions. Could you claim you "know" me? In a sense, yes, According to your criteria of sight evidence, no. Do you see the weakness of your reasoning?
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby Hand in Glove » Wed Sep 16, 2015 7:49 am

I don't feel like I have a conundrum. God as described by Christianity wants to have a personal relationship with me. Here I am. Where is He?
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Re: What are some examples of intelligent design?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:03 am

He's right here as well. How are you expecting to perceive him? With your EYES or EARS? God does want to have a personal relationship with you. James 4.8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." If you want to be warm, you must stand near the fire. If you expect to get wet, you have to get in the water. If you want a personal relationship with God, then you must come close to God with sincerity. Eternal life, peace, joy, salvation, and an open relationship aren't things that God hands out like some sort of prize at the carnival. As C.S. Lewis says, "They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry." Having a relationship with God involves two parties, not just one, and you have an important part to play in that relationship. You have to take responsibility for your part, and God will take responsibility for his.

The verse continues with some instruction as to how to do this. Repent from your sins, purify your heart. Humble yourself before the Lord (James 4.10). If you are really seeking God and want to know him, then do what is necessary to enter the relationship. But if this is just a defiant challenge to God where you are throwing down the gauntlet, no wonder you're not aware of him.
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