Intelligent Design

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  • Created on: 20-05-16 11:39
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Intelligent Design
First appeared in 1991 as a response to the perceived failings of evolution to
account for the complexity of living organisms
Founder = Phillip Johnson
Concerned science was promoting a purely materialistic worldview with no room
for God. Tries to show the fossil record and genetics count as evidence in favour
of a designer God.
Main proponents = Michael Behe & William Demski
Hoyle's Boeing 747 analogy
The odds of cellular life evolving by pure chance are around 1 in 1,040,000. He
likened this to the probability a tornado sweeping through a junkyard would
assemble a Boeing 747.
Irreducible Complexity
Features that complex organisms display that provide evidence for an intelligent
designer at some point in evolution
Irreducibly complex = a complex organism that is made up of a number of parts
and whose function would be lost if any one of these parts were inactivated.
Likened to a mousetrap
Darwin: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organism existed which
could not have possibly been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications,
my theory would absolutely break down."
The eye ­ `would not work' without all component parts in the right place
The bacterial flagellum ­ the parts seem "ordered for a purpose" (Behe)
The only example in nature of a freely rotating axle that turns continuously inside
a bearing, driven by a molecular motor. The motor is held in place by a number of
proteins, and the motor would not work had these all been in place.
"To assert that such an irreducibly complex system gradually emerged in
Darwinian fashion strains credulity ... motor function only ensures after all the
necessary parts have independently selfassembled ­ an astronomically
improbable event...If each piece was added in turn, there would be no advantage
to the cell." Michael Behe/Stephen Mayer
Behe argues in `The Black Box' that evolution cannot adequately account for the
bacterial flagellum, as the motor only works once all the parts are in place. There is
no evolutionary reason why these parts would be added.
Specified Complexity
The essential feature inherent in all written messages that enable them to covey
meaning to the reader.
For these messages to be meaningful, you have to use your intelligence
Dembski ­ "In general to recognise intelligent agency we must observe an
actualization of several competing possibilities"
The choice must:
Have been specified from a range of alternatives
o I.e. language, script, direction, arrangement, punctuation..
Be complex

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In a specific pattern (i.e. the English language)
Texts are an example of specified complexity; they bear the marks of design
DNA is an example of specified complexity. It is a complex, specified pattern made
up a of a sequence of letters in a particular sequence. DNA seems like a set of
instructions for coding life, put together by an intelligent mind.
A cumulative selection process can generate specified complexity by chance, in far
less time than we would anticipate.…read more


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