Wednesday, July 30, 2008
[T]he device not only predicted solar eclipses but also organized the calendar in the four-year cycles of the Olympiad, forerunner of the modern Olympic Games.
Dr. Michael Egnor, one of the Discovery Institute's Intelligent Design Creationists, has attempted to claim that the device is proof that the "design inference" can be made solely from an object, without reference to who may have constructed it:
[E]xamination of this device, called the Antikythera mechanism, including x-ray and CT studies, shows it to be a remarkable assembly of precisely designed gears. Many scientists believe that it was a device for predicting eclipses and planetary motion, but its precise function is still a mystery. Its resemblance to an analog computer is striking (an x-ray image is shown above). Archeologists believe that the technology to produce such a device didn't emerge until at least the 14th century A.D. They have no evidence as to who designed it, and no evidence even of who could have designed it. Yet the inference to design is obvious, and no archeologist doubts that it is a designed artifact. Design can be inferred from an artifact alone, regardless of the obscurity or the implausibility of a designer.
The latest research has revealed details of dials on the instrument's back side, including the names of all 12 months of an ancient calendar. ...
The months inscribed on the instrument, they wrote, are "practically a complete match" with those on calendars from Illyria and Epirus in northwestern Greece and with the island of Corfu. Seven months suggest a possible link with Syracuse.