This is a potentially big interesting deep conversation that–in my not even slightly humble opinion–is worthy of a dedicated thread with some clear goals. Someday I’ll propose that, since I believe that we can improve the quality and tone of conversations about biological design by getting at least some unbelievers to agree that design in biology is an interesting and worthy question that need not and should not have inherent religious overtones.
I guess my first question for you as you compare your conception of ‘design’ to mine is this: do you think design is something that is done (by a designer) or do you think it is something that exists and can be detected by humans? Obviously both can be true, but as long as a person believes that ‘design’ necessitates a ‘designer’, then they won’t see design the way I do. Because my view is that design exists whether or not it is linked to a designer. To me, it is axiomatic that a mindless process can generate design, not only because we have seen it happen but because there is no good argument to the contrary. It is instructive, IMO, that the “argument” offered to the contrary is something like “all of our examples of design can be traced back to a mind.” This is not even an argument.
But what do we mean by ‘design’? Here I think we can look at some of the definitions and conceptions offered by the ID movement. I think Behe’s “purposeful arrangement of parts” is a nice start, because it captures something that we all detect when we consider (for example) a molecular machine. Was a bacterial flagellum designed by a designer? I don’t know. Does a bacterial flagellum evince design? To me, the answer is obviously yes. So, I disagree with many fellow unbelievers (materialists for the most part) who use phrases like “apparent design” or words like “designoid” to describe the biological world. My view is that design is design. If I see it, I should call it design. This doesn’t imply a designer. That simply doesn’t follow.
Maybe that gets us started. A bit too long perhaps…