Thursday, December 07, 2006


The Watchmaker Argument (Ref: Wickipedia)


The watchmaker analogy consists of the comparison of some natural phenomenon to a watch. Typically, the analogy is presented as a prelude to the teleological argument and is generally presented as (my comments in parenthesis italics):

  1. If you (an intelligent entity) look at a watch, you can easily tell that it was designed and built by an intelligent watchmaker.
  2. Similarly, if you look at some natural phenomenon X (a particular organ or organism, the structure of the solar system, life, the entire universe) you can easily tell that it was designed and built by an intelligent creator/designer.

In this presentation, the watch analogy (step 1) does not function as a premise to an argument -- rather it functions as a rhetorical device and a preamble. Its purpose is to establish the plausibility of the general premise: you can tell, simply by looking at something, whether or not it was the product of intelligent design.

In most formulations of the argument, the characteristic that indicates intelligent design is left implicit. In some formulations, the characteristic is orderliness or complexity (which is a form of order). In other cases it is clearly being designed for a purpose.

Arguments that emphasize the appearance of purpose, often appeal to biological phenomena. It seems natural to say that the purpose of an eye is to enable an organism to gather information about its environment, the purpose of legs is to enable an organism to move about in its environment, and so on. Even for non-biological phenomena, scientific explanations in terms of purpose were accepted well into the 19th century. Natural phenomena were explained in terms of how they were designed for the benefit of humanity. It was held for instance, that the highest mountains on earth are located in the hottest climates by design -- so that the mountains might condense the rain and provide cool breezes where mankind needed them the most. (In reality, the entire earth, it's distance from the sun, the size and distance of the moon, the seas and amount of water, etc. etc. is set for the promotion of life.)

In arguments that emphasize on orderliness or complexity, the argument is often supplemented by a second argument that proceeds this way:

Phenomenon X (the structure of the solar system, DNA, etc.) must be the result of:

  1. random chance, blind fate, etc.
  2. natural causes, natural law
  3. intelligent design
In the case of a watch, for example , neither (1) nor (2) is plausible. The complexity of a watch means that it could never have come about through random chance or through any natural process; it must have been designed by an intelligent watchmaker. Similarly (the argument continues), the complexity of X means that it could never have come about through random chance or through any natural process; it must have been designed by an intelligent designer.

This argument is basically a process of elimination: three possible explanations are offered. When the first two (random chance, natural causes) are ruled out, intelligent design is left standing as the only plausible explanation.

The Achilles heel of the argument is that it fails if there exists a plausible explanation of phenomenon X in terms of natural processes. (Incorrect logic. It doesn't fail if 1 and 2 are possible. 3 becomes one of three possibilities.) And this makes it vulnerable to advances in science, which has progressively found more and more naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena, and progressively abandoned explanations in terms of teleology. The location of mountains, for instance, is now explained in terms of plate tectonics. The structure of biological organisms is explained in terms of natural selection (Only problem: NS to produce species and organs is completely unproven. In fact, evidence shows that it had nothing to do with the origin of species and organs. NS had only to do with size, habit, and coloring changes in species.) The structure of the solar system is explained in terms of the nebular hypothesis and its refinements. And so on.
Evidence of intelligence is so overwhelming that it is completely overlooked by scientists. It's an amazing thought that the people who deny any type of intelligence in the universe are using proof of that intelligence to do the denying. Some "in your face" examples:
1. A clenching hand, with a thumb opposing four fingers showing perfect mechanical design.
2. Perfectly balanced opposing motors (muscles) and pull rods (ligaments) to cause opening and closing of joints.
3.Two eyes, perfectly separated, to allow three dimensional vision.
4.Teeth and jaws to chew food. The jaw is a perfectly designed class 3 lever. Teeth perfectly designed to incise and chew food. Question: How would teeth in the maxillary jaw evolve to perfectly match occlusion with mandibular teeth?
5. Multiple joints showing perfect mechanical design. Ball and socket joints, end to end joints.
6. Flexible rod (spine) showing perfect mechanical design.
The examples are endless, making 1 and 2 minuscule compared to 3.
Humans, and all animal species, are incredibly engineered machines; thousands of times more complex and better engineered than any device on the planet. We have servo-motors (muscles) that move rods (ligaments) that in turn move ball and socket joints (hip, mandible). We have an incredibly complex and efficient pump (heart), a pair of digital cameras that produce 3D (eyes), miniture sound speakers (ears); and on and on. The one thing that makes us different from an incredibly engineered robot is LIFE; that we are alive. Life separates us from robots. And, life is the one thing that separates evolutionists from being able to see intelligence in the universe. NOT religion, but intelligence; there is a big difference here. If we were functioning and not "alive", and were constructed of plastic and metal, and an "evolutionist" could observe us, he would have to admit that we are the result of an intelligence beyond imagination. And the amazing thing is that evolutionists have absolutely no idea how life formed, and they are completely unable to duplicate life in the laboratory.

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