Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It was clear to Paley and to other defenders of the organismic design argument that the intelligent designer who built organisms must have been far more intelligent and efficacious than any human being could ever be. This is why the organismic design argument was for them an argument for the existence of God. I predict that it will eventually become clear that the organismic design argument should never have been understood in this way. This is because I expect that human beings will eventually build organisms from nonliving materials. This achievement will not close down the question of whether the organisms that human beings observe were created by intelligent design or by mindless natural processes; in fact, it will give that question a practical significance, since the organisms we will see around us will be of both kinds. However, it will be abundantly clear that the fact of organismic adaptation has nothing to do with whether God exists. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World, several indigenous peoples thought these intruders were gods, so powerful was the technology that the intruders possessed. The locals were mistaken; they did not realize that these beings with guns and horses were merely human beings. The organismic design argument for the existence of God embodies the same mistake. If my prediction is correct, our descendants will someday look back on Paley and see him and Montezuma in the same light.
- Elliott Sober, Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science