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How do we gauge whether something was designed?
#1

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
From what I understand, there are varying views about how we determine from the makeup of a thing that it likely had an intelligent designer.

Creationists of varying stripes have fastened upon the idea that the essential characteristic that indicates design is complexity.  In addition to problems of defining what complexity is and how to measure it, it doesn't seem to be true.

Others have said that simplicity is the hallmark of design.  But I'm not sure how that translates practically, as things that are simple could be so by either chance or design.

Another suggestion is that we determine design by comparing against known natural objects.  That the more unlike any natural object, the more likely design.  Yet this seems to suffer from the same problems that complexity does.

My pet theory of it is that we gauge design by whether or not an object has characteristics similar to characteristics of objects that we know are exclusively the province of design by a human or other animal.  In other words, we look for similarities between the object and things that we know to be designed.


I can't say that any of them seem wholly satisfactory, and it's possible that some interplay of them is required, that no single aspect can generate a design conclusion.


What do you think?  What should we look for if we want to figure out if an object under consideration was designed?

My favorite question on the subject is that if we were to find a meteorite that appears to be a conglomerate of different shapes and sizes of a crystalline substance, how would we go about determining if that meteorite is or was part of something designed?
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#2

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Looking at the "samurai crabs" makes me think evolution is stranger than religion.
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#3

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Regular geometry indicates design.  Exact shapes, such as disks, spheres, squares, rectangular blocks, and straight lines.  These are rare in nature.

Exact replication.  No two organisms or snowflakes are exactly alike; designed items are exact copies.  A gear's teeth are exactly alike; an organism's teeth are each unique.

Economy of purpose.  Most designed items have no features superfluous to the intended purpose, or that detract from the intended purpose.

Having said all that, how do we ascertain that a batch of chocolate chip cookies are the product of design?  No straight lines, no exact replication, yet they don't occur naturally and have to be created.  Perhaps the fact that their bottoms are always dead flat might be the determining factor, while the rest of the cookie is chaotic. Or that they're the product of a precise thermal process, cooked just so much, neither undercooked nor overcooked as they'd be if the thermal process weren't controlled.
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#4

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-20-2022, 02:32 PM)airportkid Wrote: Having said all that, how do we ascertain that a batch of chocolate chip cookies are the product of design?  No straight lines, no exact replication, yet they don't occur naturally and have to be created.  Perhaps the fact that their bottoms are always dead flat might be the determining factor, while the rest of the cookie is chaotic.  Or that they're the product of a precise thermal process, cooked just so much, neither undercooked nor overcooked as they'd be if the thermal process weren't controlled.

Criterion for design need not indicate design for all designed objects, false negatives are fine as we are interested only in knowing with some certainty that design was involved in some cases where design actually was involved, not necessarily all cases. We're not trying to eliminate things that fail to register as design, we're simply trying to find a way which can determine design for a reasonable number of cases. It's fine for the results to be inconclusive or negative in the case of some designed objects as we aren't trying to rule out design, only find criteria that can, in some cases, rule in design.

Thank you for your response. I hadn't thought of regularity as a criterion. However, the design proponents tried to do basically the same thing by requiring that complexity not simply be present, but that the complexity is or indicates specification, the so-called specified complexity that William Dembski and his legion of minions repeat ad nauseum, and that hasn't worked out.
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#5

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Form follows function is a general rule of "design". Then, there are probability functions, which tend toward variety, future function, and future form - this attribute is all about choice and invariably, change (evolution).
Sounds like you want to look more into probability functions.
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#6

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Evolution has produced many very complex systems, ... no gods needed.
Order and evolution arise spontaneously in this universe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theo...gularities.
For example the coagulation cascade evolved, and there is no portion of the system that requires any gods.
http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/D...tting.html

Creationists have no criteria by which they distinguish "how complex does it have to be", to assume it needs a creator/designer.
They are dismissed as they have no standards, definitions, or scientific criteria.

Edit to add : another well known complex system which evolved is the Krebs Cycle. No gods needed.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4224347/
And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
― Friedrich Nietzsche.
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#7

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Artifact, artifice, artificial. There's a huge amount of probable or likely stone artifacts from (what would be) the earliest hominids that we can't say for certain were designed, though they look designed, because we've never found any human remains alongside them. That's the man limiter to dating human toolmaking (and human existence, too).

So, there we have an example of when some object looks like another that we know was designed, by a known designer of things, that we can't really certify. That, to me, seems like a more sober way to handle such things than to declare every rock and tree and creature certainly designed by an unknown agent, through unknown means, at an unknown time.
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#8

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Creatards should put down their bibles and read Dawkins' "The Greatest Show On Earth."  Then maybe they would understand but I doubt it.


They do not seek information.  They seek merely validation for their childish fairy tales.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#9

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Ask the designer how he did it?
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#10

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-20-2022, 04:03 PM)Minimalist Wrote: Creatards should put down their bibles and read Dawkins' "The Greatest Show On Earth."  Then maybe they would understand but I doubt it.


They do not seek information.  They seek merely validation for their childish fairy tales.

"Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne is a really good book.  He tends to slap theists around just a little bit.
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#11

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
Did you know that Darwin was a creatard, D42?
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#12

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 05:35 AM)Minimalist Wrote: Did you know that Darwin was a creatard, D42?

Yes, I know Darwin was kinda-sorta a theist.  I think he rejected Christianity but held onto some god beliefs.  Perhaps it was a Spinoza sort of god.  I'm not sure of that though.
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#13

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-20-2022, 01:09 PM)Dānu Wrote: From what I understand, there are varying views about how we determine from the makeup of a thing that it likely had an intelligent designer.

Creationists of varying stripes have fastened upon the idea that the essential characteristic that indicates design is complexity.  In addition to problems of defining what complexity is and how to measure it, it doesn't seem to be true.

Others have said that simplicity is the hallmark of design.  But I'm not sure how that translates practically, as things that are simple could be so by either chance or design.

Another suggestion is that we determine design by comparing against known natural objects.  That the more unlike any natural object, the more likely design.  Yet this seems to suffer from the same problems that complexity does.

My pet theory of it is that we gauge design by whether or not an object has characteristics similar to characteristics of objects that we know are exclusively the province of design by a human or other animal.  In other words, we look for similarities between the object and things that we know to be designed.


I can't say that any of them seem wholly satisfactory, and it's possible that some interplay of them is required, that no single aspect can generate a design conclusion.


What do you think?  What should we look for if we want to figure out if an object under consideration was designed?

My favorite question on the subject is that if we were to find a meteorite that appears to be a conglomerate of different shapes and sizes of a crystalline substance, how would we go about determining if that meteorite is or was part of something designed?

What's strange to me about all of this is that using similarities between nature and human creations, as a way of proving that the universe is intelligently designed, is self-contradictory, because it contains an implicit assumption that nature (or at least some part of it) is not intelligently designed.
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#14

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 07:18 AM)jimhabegger Wrote: What's strange to me about all of this is that using similarities between nature and human creations, as a way of proving that the universe is intelligently designed, is self-contradictory, because it contains an implicit assumption that nature (or at least some part of it) is not intelligently designed.

Excellent observation.  Not that such a contradiction would mean anything the the committed creationist, even if they saw it themselves (which they haven't).  But what it proves to the rest of us is that creationism does not possess reason (nor could), and should be dismissed without wasting time trying to reconcile it as if it did possess any reason.
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#15

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 02:51 AM)Dancefortwo Wrote:
(09-20-2022, 04:03 PM)Minimalist Wrote: Creatards should put down their bibles and read Dawkins' "The Greatest Show On Earth."  Then maybe they would understand but I doubt it.


They do not seek information.  They seek merely validation for their childish fairy tales.

"Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne is a really good book.  He tends to slap theists around just a little bit.

And an excellent website. Can science test the supernatural? Yes.
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#16

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
I don't think complexity in and of itself necessarily indicates design, but its presence in combination with other properties could.  So then how can complexity be defined?

Here's a stab:  High diversity of unique components with a high level of interdependence and interactivity of function and process - rarely inert.

Virtually all of multi-cellular biology meets this definition.  So do nuclear power plants, jet aircraft, computers and restaurant kitchens.  Again, complexity per se doesn't really offer a clue as to whether design was involved.  Design is absent in biology; is practically the heart of a nuclear power plant.

As I mentioned earlier, regularity seems a better indicator.  Regularity is rare in nature, common in design.  The leaves of a maple tree are all similar in general form, but unique when compared with one another.  The teeth of a cog are identical, and precisely shaped.  And all the cogs made to a spec are identical.
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#17

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
It doesn't matter how many times it's pointed out to creationists that apparently designed stuff is a product of natural processes  we're always going to have those who say that the raw materials were originally created by a god.

My thing is... So what if the raw materials were created by some sort of a god thing? Well done, very clever, congratulations. Unless this god comes out of hiding and sets everyone straight about how it accomplished it's creation there is always going to be random speculation and disagreement, AKA creationism.
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#18

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 09:02 AM)Thingymebob Wrote: It doesn't matter how many times it's pointed out to creationists that apparently designed stuff is a product of natural processes  we're always going to have those who say that the raw materials were originally created by a god.

My thing is... So what if the raw materials were created by some sort of a god thing? Well done, very clever, congratulations. Unless this god comes out of hiding and sets everyone straight about how it accomplished it's creation there is always going to be random speculation and disagreement, AKA creationism.

That's why you need faith to believe.
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#19

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
"I do not believe the gods made the universe for us. There are too many imperfections in it." (Lucretius)  Consider
“I expect to pass this way but once; any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” (Etienne De Grellet)
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#20

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 07:51 AM)airportkid Wrote:
(09-21-2022, 07:18 AM)jimhabegger Wrote: What's strange to me about all of this is that using similarities between nature and human creations, as a way of proving that the universe is intelligently designed, is self-contradictory, because it contains an implicit assumption that nature (or at least some part of it) is not intelligently designed.

Excellent observation.  Not that such a contradiction would mean anything the the committed creationist, even if they saw it themselves (which they haven't).  But what it proves to the rest of us is that creationism does not possess reason (nor could), and should be dismissed without wasting time trying to reconcile it as if it did possess any reason.

Sadly, theists are very confused about nearly everything. It's not their fault initially, they were never given a chance to even consider reality.

Indoctrination and ubiquitous reinforcement, prevents them from thinking for theirselves. When confronted with reality, they feel the need to double down - again, on someone else's terms. They try - defenses go up and they start using logic to prove faith. They don't even realize, this can not be done. By it's very definition, faith is beyond all logic.

faith
/fāTH/
noun
1.
complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
2.
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. (my bold)

If theists would stick with the dictionary, they might be a bit more secure - at least in themselves, if not their faith.
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#21

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 08:03 AM)Inkubus Wrote:
(09-21-2022, 02:51 AM)Dancefortwo Wrote: "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne is a really good book.  He tends to slap theists around just a little bit.

And an excellent website. Can science test the supernatural? Yes.

It is an excellent website, but not for morons.  Where he says "Science doesn’t “prove” or “disprove” anything.  It simply renders hypotheses more or less plausible"

is where he loses the religitards.  They DEMAND proof and they find it in their holy horseshit.  

Example:  Religitards insist there was a great and glorious capital city in Jerusalem in the 10th century for the reigns of David and Solomon.  Archaeology has found no such city.  What it has found is a miserable little hilltop village.  They are down to bedrock in many places without finding anything like David's capital.
The religitards reply:  "Keep digging..... you'll find it."

You cannot reason with stupidity of that magnitude.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#22

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 06:57 PM)Minimalist Wrote:
(09-21-2022, 08:03 AM)Inkubus Wrote: And an excellent website. Can science test the supernatural? Yes.

It is an excellent website, but not for morons.  Where he says "Science doesn’t “prove” or “disprove” anything.  It simply renders hypotheses more or less plausible"

is where he loses the religitards.  They DEMAND proof and they find it in their holy horseshit.  

Example:  Religitards insist there was a great and glorious capital city in Jerusalem in the 10th century for the reigns of David and Solomon.  Archaeology has found no such city.  What it has found is a miserable little hilltop village.  They are down to bedrock in many places without finding anything like David's capital.
The religitards reply:  "Keep digging..... you'll find it."

You cannot reason with stupidity of that magnitude.

There's a rather long article in the New Yorker on Israel Finklestein and his dig in Megiddo.  Yadin, in the below paragraph, was a previous archaeologist from the 1950's and 60's who claimed Megiddo was the sight of Solomon.  


Quote: Finkelstein spent a year preparing for Megiddo, poring over stratigraphy and chronological charts. The more he read, the more confused he grew. Yadin had dated the site’s most substantial layer to Solomonic times. But there was confounding evidence, in the form of relics from a long-collapsed palace. The relics were inscribed with stonemason marks strikingly similar to those from a palace in the ancient city of Samaria—which had been persuasively dated to a century after Solomon’s rule. As Finkelstein considered this, he visited a friend’s dig in the Jezreel Valley, where excavators had noticed that the pottery—burnished by hand and painted red—was much like the ceramics of Megiddo. But his friend’s site was from the time of the Omrides, who ruled Israel in the ninth century B.C. Again, Yadin’s dating seemed to be off by a hundred years. “Something fundamentally didn’t make sense,” Finkelstein told me.

Quote:  He began to think more broadly about ancient Israel in relation to its surroundings. For three centuries before the time of David, the pharaohs of Egypt’s New Kingdom had ruled over Canaan. But, by the tenth century B.C., the Egyptian empire had long receded, diminished by a withering regional drought. The same drought had also vanquished the Hittite empire, of present-day Turkey, and the Mycenaean empire, of Greece. What were the chances that a single empire would suddenly appear on the world stage—and in the neglected highlands of Judah, of all places? “An empire needs a capital,” Finkelstein has said. “There’s almost nothing in Jerusalem; a very small village. An empire needs manpower. There’s nothing in Judah; a few small villages. An empire needs administration. There’s no administration. There’s no scribal activity. Where is the empire?”


https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/...ost-empire
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#23

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-20-2022, 01:09 PM)Dānu Wrote: Others have said that simplicity is the hallmark of design.
In software at least, the BEST designs are elegantly simple, compared to baroquely complex. Evolved life is often sub-optimal and overly complicated, and optimized for survival long enough to reproduce, not for, say, enjoyment.

Software strikes me as an example of something that can't be mistaken for being "undesigned". It requires electrons to be artificially inconvenienced in very particular and planned ways. It often even contains comments regarding the designer's reasoning.

No one would argue that a book or a car or a wood stove could possibly be naturally occurring. They are organized in fundamentally unnatural ways. They do not make or replicate themselves. They are not found buried in rock strata.

But when it comes to the natural world ... "it has to have been designed" becomes an argument from personal incredulity (as well as ignorance). When we see everything that is living self-replicates by entirely natural processes, then no matter how complex or impressive or diverse or successful it is, a deity is not a necessary ingredient for such things to be either explained or understood. And it is highly unlikely to end up being a necessary ingredient to explain how the initial life forms came to be alive. In fact we already have some testable hypotheses in that regard, and I expect those to suffice once we eventually have it sorted.

The disadvantage we're at, if you can call it that, is that presently, we don't know for sure how life came from non-life. But then no one does. Theists simply claim to know. And if we came up with a proven scientific theory of biogenesis, it would be disparaged by the same people who don't find the TOE convincing or convenient.
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#24

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-21-2022, 11:04 PM)mordant Wrote: In software at least, the BEST designs are elegantly simple, compared to baroquely complex. Evolved life is often sub-optimal and overly complicated, and optimized for survival long enough to reproduce, not for, say, enjoyment.
It's a bit of a tangent: but during the previous discussion about complexity, at first I thought it was a reference to computational complexity:
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#25

How do we gauge whether something was designed?
(09-20-2022, 02:32 PM)airportkid Wrote: Regular geometry indicates design.  Exact shapes, such as disks, spheres, squares, rectangular blocks, and straight lines.  These are rare in nature.

Stars and planets are spherical or close to it. Most crystals have very regular angles and interfaces.

More generally, spheres, circles, and straight lines are optimal solutions to some fairly common problems, so it should be expected that such will arise when those problems are relevant.

Minimizing energy to produce a spherical planet is not evidence of design. Circular wave fronts are not evidence of design.
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