I’m sure this has been discussed here ad nauseum, but I haven’t been able to find a thread on it. If there is such a thread, I would greatly appreciate it if someone could point me to it.
Only if you think highly optimal design is evidence for ID, does it then follow that bad and less than optimal design becomes evidence against ID.
That does follow logically, but ID proponents say it’s not.
On second thought I don’t think it does. It doesn’t have to be evidence against ID, it could simply fail to be evidence for ID. ID could be compatible with bad design without contradicting it.
An ID proponent might insist that if and only if the design is extremely efficient should we infer design, not that designers automatically always produce very optimal designs. But because other things can also produce bad designs (but purportedly can’t produce very good designs), only in the case of optimal designs should we infer ID.
Thanks! I think that’s an important distinction.
ID-Creationist proponents tend to say whatever pops into their head and sounds good at the time. They generally don’t care if it makes no sense or if it directly contradicts something they said two minutes previously.
Seems like IDC can’t make any comments on the quality of the designs since IDC doesn’t identify any mechanisms for creating or producing the designs in the first place. In the real world we certainly see less than optimum kluged together “designs”. Evolution explains this phenomenon quite nicely since evolution is constrained to modifying what existed before. IDC of course has no explanation beyond “the Designer wanted that way”. To be fair some IDCers who admit the Designer was their Christian God say poor design is the result of “The Fall”. They just can’t say how.
Is bad/less than optimal design an argument against ID?
It can be if one has a certain view of the Designer:
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.
My counter to the bad design argument is that humans (Monsanto) make self-destructive designs like terminator/traitor seeds.
As far as less optimal designs, Christian theology says of mortal humans,
God made them less than the angels
So sub-optimal design is to emphasize a hierarchy in reality where God is the top of the hierarchy, then angels, then humans, then worms, etc.
That said, as a defender of Design theory and Creationism, the “bad design” argument is the most potent at a personal level. A college student, an atheist/agnostic, confided to me with tears that she had been raped. In her case, and for many, it is easy to suppose there is no God, no Designer, much less a designer who cares for her well being. One could also postulate a Designer, but a Designer indifferent to human suffering. Or, as I interpret Christian theology, a Designer that deliberately makes the world a torturous place to live in.
Years later, my only consolation is 2 Cor 4:17 that says the bad in this world gives meaning to the good of the next:
For this momentary light affliction is building for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison.
Otherwise the option for some people is nihilism, and one girl committed suicide in the wake of the mental trauma of a sexual assault.
FWIW, I had a relative, my aunt Connie Reyes (you can google her name) who was raped and murdered. The “bad design” argument was something I had to deal with at a personal level too, and it affected my family a lot.
I would point out that the assertions of ID proponents when it comes to junk DNA suggest that the matter of suboptimal design is more of a threat to their ideas than they may let on…
What did that rambling verbiage have to do with the supposed design of biological life, the topic of this thread?
I agree, but unfortunately that doesn’t help me with my current situation. Perhaps I should explain - I am up for promotion to full professor and a member of my promotion committee is a philosophy professor who is a big proponent of ID. He asked me about ID when I was hired and I was able to brush him off, but it’s possible it will come up again. I really don’t want to go down the ID rabbit hole, but if we do I don’t think that accusing him of hand waving and fuzzy logic is the smart move.
Yes. If you have particular view of your designer, for example that “He simply wouldn’t make sub-optimal things”, then finding sub-optimal things would be evidence against that designer.
Discretion is indeed the better part of valor. Just tell him the scientific jury is still out but that there’s no reason a Designer couldn’t use evolutionary processes to implement the design.
I like it!
I would add that, as a biologist, you are keenly aware that optimality is always context-dependent, and it is very hard from a biological point of view to assert that such-and-such a feature is sub-optimal. So, while it may be a provocative subject for an informal philosophical discussion, it is hard to make definite statements or draw hard conclusions. And certainly it is not appropriate for a biologist to argue against ID along these lines.
Several very good responses here. My $0.02 - when discussing the topic with colleagues (and even a parent or two!) at my Christian University, I’ve occasionally mentioned that I fully believe in God as the designer of the universe, and I certainly believe He is intelligent. That has worked to diffuse some confrontational conversations that I wished to avoid.
I agree that design is in the eye of the beholder. Last week my Animal Biology class had a discussion about red-green color blindness in mammals. It works out great for tigers, but kind of sucks for antelope. Good design vs bad design is often a matter of perspective.
Dang, I missed the opportunity to use “de-escalate”
I’m hoping we don’t escalate.
I searched, but don’t have time to pick through the results.
“Less-than -optimal” can be expected of evolution constrain by earlier development, but there is no reason an intelligent designer should be so constrained. There are responses to this question on ENV which generally nitpick the “bad” design to show why it really isn’t so bad after all.
The Sensuous Curmudgeon has a number of posts on the topic too.
I think you might have meant “defuse” in any event, eh? Bearing in mind that the term comes from dealing with bombs, the easiest way to “diffuse” a bomb is to allow it to explode. Defusing a bomb, however, is the safer and less explosive option.