An agnostic take on intelligent design
There’s a scientific organization known as S.E.T.I whose purpose is the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. The founders of this organization asked themselves how you would scientifically deduce the existence of intelligent life in the universe if you couldn’t directly shake hands with an intelligent alien. They concluded that if you can find patterns in radio waves coming from deep space that are too orderly to happen randomly in nature then it would be logical to conclude that those patterns were coded by an intelligent being.
For example, if an alien space ship flying past Earth picked up a radio transmission of an Elvis song they would know there is (slightly) intelligent life on Earth because that song is too orderly to happen randomly in nature. But what if it wasn’t an Elvis song they heard? What if it was a code describing in detail how to build an android? If aliens heard that coming from earth they would know there was extremely intelligent life in this galaxy. But what if that code wasn’t sent via radio waves? What if they found a box floating through space containing a single solid state computer chip that held the code? That would still be too orderly to exist randomly in nature.
If the scientists at S.E.T.I. found such a computer chip floating around Earth they would conclude it was intelligently designed. But what if the code wasn’t in a chip? Would it matter where we found the code, as long as we found a logically patterned code somewhere in something?
Well, look at our DNA. It’s a code. The code is a program. The program is for the design of an intelligent being that is capable of self-direction and self-awareness. Its body can process resources to generate its own energy, repair itself and even create new robots.
Now let’s take a step back and look at the rest of the living creatures on planet earth. Each living thing contains similar codes. These codes even overlap between species. Humans, reptiles, fish, and birds (to name a few) all have eyes. Dissimilar species have lungs, feet, skin, reproductive organs, hearts, skeletons, etc. One or two examples would be a coincidence. The extensive number of similarities constitutes a clear pattern. The pattern indicates order. Order indicates these similarities aren’t an accident; the code is designed that way.
Consider also how these patterns came to exists. All of these species didn’t pop into existence 6,000 years ago. They evolved over millions of years. Since evolution has produced patterns we can conclude that there is an element of order in the process of evolution. Evolution is isn’t completely random. Taxonomy is not random. Hereditary traits can be predicted because they’re not random. Mutations may be random, but every child born with ten fingers, ten toes and two eyes are the product of order.
When we use the same criteria for identifying intelligent life that S.E.T.I. uses then evolution is probably the best evidence we have for the existence of an intelligent designer. But even if God does exist, religion is still mythology.
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Originally published at thewisesloth.com on March 28, 2010.