The Design Inference- How It Works
So much confusion over such a simple concept- determining design in a natural world. This is all about answering one of science's three basic questions- "How did it come to be this way?".
Intelligent Design is based on three premises and the inference that follows (DeWolf et al., Darwinism, Design and Public Education, pg. 92):
1) High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.
2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.
3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.
The criteria for inferring design in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ' s Black Box:
"Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”
He goes on to say:
” Might there be some as-yet-undiscovered natural process that would explain biochemical complexity? No one would be foolish enough to categorically deny the possibility. Nonetheless, we can say that if there is such a process, no one has a clue how it would work. Further, it would go against all human experience, like postulating that a natural process might explain computers.”
That said we have the explanatory filter to help us determine the cause of the effect we are investigating.
On to the Explanatory Filter:
The (design) explanatory filter is a standard operating procedure used for detecting basic origins of cause. It or some reasonable facsimile is used when a dead body turns up or a fire is reported. With the dead body we want to determine if it was a natural death, an accident, a suicide or a homicide (what caused the death?) and in with the fire, the investigator wants to know how it started- arson, negligence, accident or natural causes, i.e. lightning, lava, meteorite, etc. Only through investigation can those not present hope to know about it.
When investigating/ researching/ studying an object/ event/ structure, we need to know one of three things in order to determine how it happened:
1. Did it have to happen?
2. Did it happen by accident?
3. Did an intelligent agent cause it to happen?
A fire is investigated before an arson is.
First we must make this clarification by Wm. Dembski:
”When the Explanatory Filter fails to detect design in a thing, can we be sure no intelligent cause underlies it? The answer to this question is No. For determining that something is not designed, the Explanatory Filter is not a reliable criterion. False negatives are a problem for the Explanatory Filter.
This problem of false negatives, however, is endemic to detecting intelligent causes. One difficulty is that intelligent causes can mimic law and chance, thereby rendering their actions indistinguishable from these unintelligent causes. It takes an intelligent cause to know an intelligent cause, but if we don't know enough, we'll miss it.”
This is why further investigation is always a good thing. Initial inferences can either be confirmed or falsified by further research.
Intelligent causes always entail intent. Natural causes never do.
(page 13 of No Free Lunch shows the EF flowchart. It can also be found on page 37 of The Design Inference, page 182 of Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design, and page 88 of The Design Revolution)
The flowchart for the EF is set up so that there are 3 decision nodes, each node capable only of a Yes or No decision. As are all filters it is eliminative. It eliminates via consideration/ examination.
CONTINGENCY? →No → Necessity (regularity/ law)
COMPLEXITY? →No → Chance
SPECIFICATION? →No → Chance
The event/ object/ phenomena in question is what we start with. Then we ask, in sequence, those 3 questions from above- 1st Did this event/ phenomena/ object have to happen? IOW is this the result of the laws of nature, regularity, or some other pre-determining (natural) factors? If it is then we don’t infer design with what we have. If it isn’t then we ask about the likely-hood of it coming about by some chance/ coincidence? Chance events do happen all the time, and absent some blatant design marker, we must take into account the number of factors required to bring it about. The more factors the more complex it is. The more parts involved the more complex it is.
By getting to the final decision node where we separate that which is merely complex from intentional design (an event/ object that has a small probability of occurring by chance and fits a specified pattern), means we have looked into the possibility of X to have occurred by other means. May we have dismissed/ eliminated some too soon? In the realm of anything is possible, possibly. However not only is it impractical to attempt every possible, but by doing so we would no longer have a design inference. By eliminating every possible other cause design would be a given. What we are looking for is a reasonable inference, not proof. IOW we only have to eliminate every possible scenario if we want absolute proof. We already understand that people who ask that of the EF are not interested in science.
It took our current understanding in order to make it to that, the final decision node and it takes our current understanding to make the inference. Future knowledge will either confirm or falsify the inference. The research does not and was never meant to stop at the last node. Just knowing something was the result of intentional design offers no more about it. IOW design detection is the first step in the two step process- detection and understanding of the design. Just because the answer is 42* that doesn’t tell us what was on the left-hand side of the equal sign.
"Thus, Behe concludes on the basis of our knowledge of present cause-and-effect relationships (in accord with the standard uniformitarian method employed in the historical sciences) that the molecular machines and complex systems we observe in cells can be best explained as the result of an intelligent cause.
In brief, molecular motors appear designed because they were designed” Pg. 72 of Darwinism, Design and Public Education
IOW the design inference is all about our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.
We do not infer that every death is a homicide nor every rock an artifct. Parsimony- no need to add entities and the design inference is all about requirements, as in is agency involvement required or not?
Threfor to refute any given design inference all one has to do is demonstrate that nature, operating freely, can produce it.
Yet addled tards behaving cowardly attack ID and IDists because the only way to "support" their position is to use brute force to rid the world of all alternatives.
(*Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference)