Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Design Matrix - First Post

It must be a nervy time to be a thinking ateleologist. It might have seemed as though the anti-ID brigade had successfully fended off their challenge - proponents of ID in general could be dismissed as creationists in a cheap tuxedo (although they weren't, in general); an apparent counter-example had been found for Behe's irreducible complexity (although it wasn't one); Dembski had failed to successfully apply Complex Specified Information to real life; the Privileged Planet had been dismissed as the Weak Anthropic Principle (although it wasn't). And yet ...

A Meaningful World showed how narrowly you need to look at the world to regard it as having no meaning. There is also still the unsettling fact, pointed out early in The Design Matrix, that biology works using engineering and design terminology, rather than physics or chemistry terminology. There's still the fact that, setting aside the genetic code, every example of encoded information that we know about has come about through intelligent agency. And whilst the ateleologist may feel that the explanations offered are making great inroads into understanding the world from a naturalistic perspective, teleologists looking on are becoming increasingly confident that the darwinist explanation is not satisfactory on its own as a comprehensive description of the progress from the earliest life to today, but is perhaps no more than a special case. In fact, Mike Gene, the pseudonymous author of The Design Matrix, makes the point that had crossed my mind some years ago, that a good designer allows his or her designs to adapt to changing environments, otherwise they risk an early obsolescence.

The purpose of the book is not to "prove" that there is a designer - the author points out early on that much of the debate has foundered because both sides assume they can either prove or refute design in one easy step. The God Delusion is an example of that. So rather than trying to do that, Mike Gene is seeking to come to a conclusion firstly as to whether design is possible, and from there whether it is plausible, and then whether it is probable.

I haven't got a long way into his arguments, yet, although it is a good read. As with many other of the best books, The Design Matrix is too full of good quotations to meaningfully pick just one or two. But I intend to post again on it.