Who or What Is the Designer in Intelligent Design

My second foray into NCSE has been interesting but not unsurprising with many comments, but none relating to the actual content which I shared with the readers.

I leave NCSE once more, with an essay rather than responding to the individual comments directed towards me. Hopefully there are open minded readers that will read the essay with an objective mind and heart. In this essay I try to minimize and avoid theological issues and questions, and I hope readers will read it in that spirit.


However, there is one commenter, Ian Nicholas  I would like to respond to. Ian has questions of people like me — questions that are not new to him and have been asked numerous times by many, and have been addressed by many throughout the years, decades and centuries. The wording may differ, but the questions are similar (taking my time Ian … with much recent travel seeing much of the beauty of God’s green earth).

Here are the questions:

Who or what is the designer? What did it do? How did it do it? Where did it do it? When did it do it?

Let me offer several perspectives on Mr. Nicolas’s questions. I will not offer them up as answers, since I sense in his comments an anger – a closed minded anger – that may keep him from consideration of what I have to say  … nonetheless, let me begin.

First is the perspective from the point of view of Intelligent Design (ID) –

From the Discovery Institute we read [emphasis added]:

“ … What is intelligent design?
Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.  … “

ID theory and practice does not require the identity of a designer or designers. Again, from the Discovery Institute we read [emphasis added]:

“ … The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism typically starts with a religious text and tries to see how the findings of science can be reconciled to it. Intelligent design starts with the empirical evidence of nature and seeks to ascertain what inferences can be drawn from that evidence. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design does not claim that modern biology can identify whether the intelligent cause detected through science is supernatural. … “

Thus the questions of Mr. Nicolas are irrelevant from an ID perspective.

Perhaps this can be illustrated by an allegory. The one I have in mind is one by A. E. Wilder-Smith —  “He Who Thinks Has to Believe.” at:

In this delightful little book, a modern transport plane crashes into a remote island inhabited by “Neanderthals” who have never been visited by modern man.  The aircraft contains a cargo of various types of farm equipment as well as cans of fuel for the machines. There are no survivors, so all the Neanderthals see is something frightful dropping from the sky in flames and a bunch of unknown stuff scattered around. 

Once the initial fear subsides, the inquisitive Neanderthals start poking around in the debris and begin to discover that many of the strange machines have components that are similar to some of the items in their everyday life.  The large round things attached on the four corners of some of the things look similar to the wheels on their own simple wagons, and they surmise that maybe the big green machine can somehow move across their fields.

A young Neanderthal climbs up onto what is obviously a seat and starts pushing the buttons he finds and pulling various levers. Much to his surprise and fright, the big green thing seems to come ‘alive’ in some sense and when he pulls a particular lever the machine begins to move.

Further, since the ‘writing’ on the machines (CAT, John Deere etc.) seem somewhat similar to their own primitive writing, they surmise that perhaps these machines were designed and constructed by beings having intelligence.  But since from their own perspective these designers are unknowable, except for the design artifacts they delivered from the sky, they can only infer design and thus ‘designers.’

In summary, the Neanderthals soon discover that the machines have purpose and function that they can use to their own advantage in everyday village and farm life.

Wilder-Smith’s allegory illustrates that it is simply not necessary to know:

  • who or what is the designer?
  • what did it do?
  • how did it do it?
  • where did it do it?
  • when did it do it?

to investigate and understand natural systems and use such knowledge to our advantage … we do it in our every day life in any number of ways.

Intelligent Design is a quest to follow the evidence to where-ever it may lead (i.e. science).

Next is the perspective from the point of view of Biblical Creation.

Again … the questions, this time directed at Biblical Creation:

Who or what is the designer? What did it do? How did it do it? Where did it do it? When did it do it?

The answers to these questions are easy and readily available to everyone in the context of the Hebrew/Christian Biblical accounts of Creation:

In the beginning God created …  Genesis 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  John 1:1

And many other accounts throughout the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

Here, as distinct from Intelligent Design, proponents clearly identify the Designer as the God of the Bible – the God of the Ten Commandments.

This is admittedly an A priori stance, but one with a considerable amount of success over the centuries in the development of modern science and the advancement of our knowledge of the world and universe we live in. Most of the modern scientific disciplines owe their founding to Biblical Creationists

Is the Creationist stance a hindrance or a help in the advancement of science?

The Creation view of nature is one that sees order and discoverability in the designs seen in nature. This view sees real design and not illusions or appearances of design, and it is from this perspective that investigation proceed from scientists such as Galileo, Newton and many others including modern scientists in many fields.

Is algebra, physics or chemistry taught from the Bible as if it were a text book? Of course not, but the philosophical and inspirational roots can be found in the investigations of many scientists and engineers, past and present.

Next is the perspective from the point of view of  Naturalism/Materialism and Evolutionary Biology.

Finally we take a look at Mr. Nicolas’s god – ‘Deep Time’, and  this god’s prophet Charles Darwin…, along with the priesthood of Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Laurence Krauss and others.  

Again … the questions, this time directed at Materialistic Evolution:

  • who or what is the designer?
  • what did it do?
  • how did it do it?
  • where did it do it?
  • when did it do it?

So let’s take a look:

  • who or what is the designer?
    Deep Time
  • what did it do?
    “ … tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged” Stephen Hawking
  • how did it do it?
    Dawkins, in his book “The Blind Watchmaker”, states regarding the origins of the universe and life: “given enough time, and an infinite number of chances, anything is possible.”

    Random mutations + Natural Selection
  • where did it do it?
    Everywhere throughout the universe.
  • when did it do it?
    During ‘Deep Time’

In short, Darwinian Evolution requires an unknown “deep Time” such that when left alone and given enough time, nothing will borrow nothing from nothing and turn itself into into something. I’m beginning to understand – but my head hurts.

So we have three perspectives and I will leave it up to the reader to carefully examine each and draw appropriate conclusions.

But please – let’s teach our kids the art of critical thinking.


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