Is there a Design Perspective?

Reading through another recent discussion I was struck by the following comment (my emphasis added):

That is not an unusual claim from ID, I’ve seen it many times before. I want to add that I’m not trying to pick on @Giltil for his opinion, he just happened to provide the example that got me thinking about it. Next, @Rumraket points out the flaw …

“We expect the pattern from evolution”; here it seems the particular design perspective is also the evolution perspective. Rumraket continues about why we don’t expect this from design, but that’s another matter.

What I am trying to say, is that there is no design perspective that differs significantly from the evolutionary perspective. Where predictions are made concerning Design they are always confused versions of the evolutionary perspective, as in the example above.

Question: If there is a design perspective, then what is it?

Now that I’ve gotten this far, I’ve realized that Intelligent Design wasn’t specifically mentioned in my example. There are some here who might make a meaningful case for a design perspective (not necessarily a scientific argument). That’s OK - What I’m really hoping for is the differences between design and evolution, if there are any.


The problem is the nebulous “Design” doesn’t make any predictions at all. It’s only after the fact IDers look at what was found an go “that looks like something a Designer would do”. The IDers of course have no idea what a Designer would or would not do.

One of the many reasons ID as presented now isn’t science is because it makes no predictions which can be falsified. IDers tend to anthropomorphize findings into “a human designer would have used common design” for example but there is no reason to think a Designer with completely unknown powers and motives would do so.

The answer to your OP question is yes there is a human design perspective but no reason to apply this to non-human produced biological objects.


if you are talking about specific prediction so one of them will be that creatures will stay basically the same creatures even when we are dealing with millions of years. evolution predict the opposite- creatures will be changed into different creatures after millions of years by mutations and natural selection. is there any way to test it? im not sure. one interesting point is the fact that bacteria exist about 4 billion years. and they are still bacteria after all this time. in human perspective we are talking about 10^14 generations, or about 10^15 years without any real change.

This needs a definition of “basically”. If all bacteria are “basically” the same, we have a problematic definition.


by “basically” i refer to the family level in general.

Thanks for clarifying. But that just raises further questions. Why the family level rather than any other? And aren’t humans and chimps in the same family, and aren’t they therefore “basically” the same, so you should have no problem with their common descent?


That isn’t true at all @scd. There is an immense number of bacterial families that are very different from one another.


The “design perspective” is “design will look just like evolution, for no apparent reason”. There are many cases where we can see just how fluid the design perspective is, with some users completely changing their reasoning multiple times within a single thread. For example, we may see a poster explain how God will create using canonical created kinds, such as an ape kind or bear kind. That same user will then completely change explanations and go with fine tuning for a specific environment. They will propose multiple contradictory mechanisms without really understanding how they contradict each other.

Of course, the real purpose of the design perspective is to have a scientific fig leaf to cover up the religious beliefs underneath. Their purpose is not to explain the scientific evidence. I suspect that this is why conversations become frustrating at times.


Here is a more interesting question to consider.

Could there be a coherent design perspective, even if one isn’t being offered by ID now?

I think the answer is “yes.” Many of us here, for example, believe God used evolutionary processes to create us. In this sense he designed us all.

Alternately, we might imagine other apporaches to design that include special creation alongside common descent. Perhaps that could be coherent and consistent with the evidence.

Of course, there are design models (see ReMine) that have been proposed and are self consistent, even if they don’t end being consistent with the evidence.


because we have evidence that many species from the same family can interbreed for instance.

yep. this is why i said “in general”.

it might be because of LGT. im talking about animals.

I think there could be, but it would differ significantly from what we see in biology. If you start with first principles, you would expect a design perspective to predict a non-nested hierarchy since that is how we observe human designers doing their work.

This would be along the lines of the “created kinds” ideas. Within that theory, we wouldn’t expect to see a nested hierarchy between created kinds. A half-mammal, half-reptile species would be just as likely as a half-mammal, half-bird species. There would be no reason to restrict combinations of different features.


Taxonomic families are entirely arbitrary. We can narrow or widen taxonomic families as we please. We could put all mammals in the same family if we wanted.

You need something that is objective and non-arbitrary.

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Not usually. Most such evidence is only within a genus, and often not even that. There are exceptions, Anatidae for example. But you don’t only want to talk about ducks, do you? It isn’t true “in general”. Perhaps you should find another reason.

Now why should that be an exception?

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ok. what about a group of creatures that share a unique set of morphological traits?

because they are clearly different creatures.

That could apply to a genus, an order, a class, or a phylum as easily as a family.

So are two species of any family you care to name. Let’s face it, there’s no objective reason for considering families to be, in general, kinds. And there’s no objective reason to accept families as kinds while rejecting Hominidae as one.


let me rephrase that: a group of creatures that share the same set of morphological traits.

two species of felidae are still cats.

As a Christian and believing in and having experienced God’s providence, I can easily infer design foresight into exaptation, for instance, any example you want to choose. But as a scientific model, no. It’s still lowercase ‘id’, as opposed to the ID movement. I think their God-given intuition is correct, and subcellular biological nanomachines are designed, not to mention very cool, besides. But as a scientific model, untenable.


That is not true. Evolution does not predict that organisms will change to that extent over millions of years. It could have been the genetic constraints were such that only limited change could occur.

Rather, evolution is the theory that was necessitated by, among other things, the evidence that life forms have changed as much as they have over the past few million years.

Also, to the main point of this discussion: “Design” makes no prediction one way or the other, either. Many ID proponents accept that the current diversity of life all arose from very simple original life forms, yet still insist “design” was involved in this process somehow.


Doesn’t help. It still could apply at any level.

All that shows is that “clearly different creatures” is a useless criterion. Two species of Felidae are still cats, but a cat and a dog are still carnivorans, a lynx and a bobcat are still Lynx, and so on. All across the tree of life, different groups within groups share various features and differ in various others. There is no particular level of that tree that stands out as the boundary of “kinds”.


I should probably clarify that evolution does predict that we would find life forms very different than the ones now inhabiting the earth as we look back into the past. But if we consider the theory from the perspective of the origin of life, things could have stayed at the level of simply unicellular organisms and the theory would still be true.

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