Thursday, June 21, 2012

Determining Design

Back a bunch of posts ago, I went into depth about how one would tell if an object was designed or not.

PZ Myers gives a good talk covering the same topic. Listen if you're interested!

One of the first questions from the audience was asking about the difference between "apparent design" and "real design". One of his examples was that we can go to a car engine factory and tell that they are designed, so why can't we look at the bacterial flagellum and tell that it's designed, and be right?

It's essentially an Argument from Analogy. When we go to the car engine factory, we have a number of pieces of evidence:
  • Observation of the motors being built.
  • The blueprints for which the motors are made, with the designer(s) signatures/patents.
We have neither of those for the bacterial flagellum. DNA isn't a blueprint, but rather would be more analogous to the compiled machine code instead of an abstracted diagram. It's not the same kind of concept.

The Argument from Analogy is assuming that, after comparing bacterial flagellum to car motor production, that all attributes of car motor production must also match the bacterial flagellum - including the attribute of being designed. That's simply not the case. 

You actually have to demonstrate that bacterial flagellum are designed. Where's the Bacterial Flagellum factory with the blueprints on file?

A later audience member walked up to the microphone and gave Pascal's Wager. I literally laughed uproariously. These people think it's a slam dunk argument, and yet it's the silliest argument in existence.

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