Universal Design Intuition & Darwin’s Blind Spot

Douglas Axe[i] recently published a book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed[ii], in which he attempts to show how science, as well as our own experiences and observations, belie a world that is full of design and evidence of a designer. Though he is vilified by hard line Neo-Darwinists and others who cling to that tired model of life in spite of mounting evidence against it, others have recently acknowledged his contributions to science.[iii]

In the book and elsewhere, Axe highlights a phenomenon that he calls universal design intuition. According to Axe, pre-school age children on the whole look at the world and attribute it to a God-like designer.

He isn’t alone in this observation, and it isn’t just the advocates of intelligent design who confirm the phenomenon. This phenomenon has been recognized even by people who are not in favor of intelligent design.

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The Irreducible Complexity of the Universe

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(c) Can Stock Photo

I recently read the book, Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer, a Cambridge University Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science. The book uses Darwin’s acknowledgment that the Cambrian Explosion was a significant problem to his evolutionary theory of the origin of life as a springboard to explore in detail that problem which Meyer aptly names “Darwin’s doubt”.

I have summarized the first ten chapters of the book on a different Blog, Perspective, starting with a summary of the first four chapters of the book. If you want to read a summary description of the detail that Meyer explores without buying the book, though I strongly suggest buying the book if your are interested.

In this blog, I want to provide an overarching description of the basis for Intelligent Design, which is ultimately the theory that Meyer espouses. For Meyer, the key basis for Intelligent Design is 1) the argument from biological or genetic information and 2) the argument from physics or cosmology. Both arguments can be summed up in the statement that we live in a universe of irreducible complexity that could not have happened by chance or unguided “natural law”.

Meyer focuses on the biological argument, observing that, to build the complex biological machines that we see, there is a need for prior information, and any discussion of that complexity begs the question: where did that information necessary to build the protein parts out of which the complex structures are made come from in the first place? What cause is capable of generating that information? Meyer argues that we can use the same scientific method that Darwin used to infer that the cause had to be conscious mind or intelligence.
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Reblogging Darwin’s Blind Spot

Photo by Ken Gortowski

Photo by Ken Gortowski

I recently read Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer, and I highly recommend it. I have touched on another aspect of Darwin in my own writings, something that Gerald M. Vershuuren calls “Darwin’s blind spot”.

I previously highlighted an aspect of Darwin’s thinking in Random Thoughts on Evolution that seem to undermine his own theory. Darwin expressed skepticism about the value of his own “inward convictions” (that there is purpose in the world) as quoted from a letter he wrote July 3, 1881, to William Graham who posited that natural laws imply purpose in life, the following:

I cannot see that there is then necessarily any purpose. Would there be purpose if the lowest organisms alone destitute of consciousness existed in the moon? But I have had no practice in abstract reasoning and I may be all astray. Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?

The fact that he could not trust his inward convictions follows fairly naturally from his theory that all life has evolved, including mankind, from lower life forms. It strikes me as ironic, however, that Darwin’s skepticism stopped with his inward convictions and did not extend, also, to, the conclusions of his mind.

I do not mean to suggest at all that Darwin was not highly intelligent, a genius in fact. I simply hold out that Darwin’s conclusion about his inward convictions should have also caused him to doubt the processes of his mind as well, including his construct of the evolutionary theory .

My point is this: if Darwin could not trust his inward convictions, being the product of a mind derived from lower life forms, what confidence should Darwin have in the “rational” conclusions of that same mind, it being the derived from irrational, random processes?

Vershuuren takes the analysis further in Darwin’s Blind Spot.

Reviewing Darwin’s Doubt Chapters 1-4

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / tantrik71

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / tantrik71

I received the book, Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer, for Christmas. Since my college days, I have always been interested in “truth” in whatever form it may be revealed. As someone who spent his academic career in the “liberal arts” and post academic career in the law, I do not have a robust scientific background, but science interests me, especially as it relates to origins and ultimate truth.

Not being thoroughly inculcated in the sciences, I am not apt to read through scientific journals and must rely on someone to “break it down” for me. Stephen Meyer does that remarkably well in Darwin’s Doubt. Though I am a man of faith, I am keenly aware that religious folk can be very unscientific about science. If I am going to consider information and arguments, I want them to be well stated, well researched and deferential to scholarly analysis and opinions. Darwin’s Doubt meets that test.

Meyer’s launching point, as suggested by the title of the book, is a problem that Darwin himself recognized. That problem is known as the Cambrian Explosion. The sudden and prolific “explosion” of new life forms that appear in the fossil record in the Cambrian period is a problem for Darwinism. If the Cambrian explosion can not be explained by Darwinian theory (as it has evolved since the 1800’s), there may be reason to discount it or abandon it altogether.

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