Which explanation is better? Intelligent Design or Natural Processes

which is still a different category entirely from recognizing all sorts of methods where intelligent agency can indeed be distinguished from otherwise undirected routine natural processes in all these and many other realms. This should be a most obvious and self-evident observation.

It is. What is the category difference again? Ohhhhh, yeah, God is not an IDer, doesn’t need to design anything, He is not, in any sense, a designer, a biologist, a geologist, a scientist, a computer.

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I’m pretty sure we agree that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was a miracle.

Let’s apply this personally: Were my own birth, personality, and giftings divinely directed, or was my growth from a fertilized ovum into a zygote into an embryo into a fetus into a baby fully explainable by scientific processes?

By faith, I say that I and everything about me are the creation of God’s hand.

But science does not, indeed cannot, lead to that conclusion; science has identified and explained otherwise undirected routine natural processes that turn a fertilized ovum into a zygote into an embryo into a fetus into a baby…

As with my own origin, so with the origin of humanity. By faith, we affirm God’s guidance and providence. But by scientific means, we identify the otherwise undirected routine natural processes of evolution.



Indeed. He could choose to create the world last Thursday and fabricate evidence for an old earth and even implant false memories in us of lives we’ve never lived.


You never answered this question which is critical. Why have the law if there are no limitations?

I didn’t answer it because @Mervin_Bitikofer provided the answer. We have the law because there are limitations, and in fact the law is a precise statement of those limitations. You have yet to show how evolution is supposed to violate the limitations.


It is you who is being evasive. Randy provided you with a nice encyclopedic reference which addressed your misunderstanding. No response.

The law does apply to open systems, just not in the way you want.


Friends, @SixDays

The question raised is “Which explanation is better? Intelligent design or Natural Process?”

Why are these two antithetical? Who said natural processes are not designed by the intelligent Creator except Dawkins and Co? If natural processes were designed by the intelligent Creator, through Jesus the Logos, as in John 1:1-3, there is no problem, right?


A deistic approach is indeed theologically unsound, but it is more characteristic of ID and young-earth arguments than evolutionary creationism. The focus on detecting “design” too easily becomes the god of the gaps error, in which God and physical explanations are presented as mutually exclusive options. Although ID advocates often acknowledge that god of the gaps is incorrect, it’s hard to find a criticism of evolutionary creationism that does not make the error of claiming that evolution takes God out of the picture.

The claim “why didn’t God do a better job”? is indeed not a good argument against God’s role in creation, but it is a serious argument against ID-style design detection. God achieved His goals in creation. But we do not a priori know what those goals are. Likewise, any detection of design requires some idea of what the purpose of that design might be. That is not possible with the unknown designer of ID arguments.

Orphan genes are different from newly-appearing computer code because DNA with variations is automatically produced by the system, whereas computer code is not usually computer-generated. Thus, there is a method by which natural law-style activity can produce new genes. I believe there was also a study on icefish a few years ago that found a novel gene that could be traced back to non-coding DNA.


God takes a deistic approach. Apart from in Jesus.

As I said above. If God is the Creator of the universe or the natural then that can Not be mutually exclusive.

What seems to confuse most people is the fact that the New Atheists claim that Nature or the universe is evil and therefore cannot be from God. It is my position that EC must take the position that nature/the universe/evolution is demonstrably good [it produced humanity after all] so it is from God.

I hear this basic line of argumentation here very often, and no disrespect intended for you specifically, but I find this argument absolutely ludicrous.

I found a metal object in my yard one time as a child, and had (and still to this day have) absolutely no idea of its purpose…. Was cylindrical on one side, then came to a weird prong pointing in different directions on the other side. And I could tell it was made, even if I had no idea whatsoever of its purpose.

If for whatever reason, I left a large circuit board full of microchips on a desert island… and it was discovered by a tribal person with no knowledge of other civilizations living on said desert island…
I think it is safe to say that it is an entirely reasonable and valid conclusion for said tribesman to conclude that this was made intentionally and designed, even if he had absolutely no clue whatsoever in the slightest what the purpose of said design might be.

Similarly… are you really suggesting be that, should some piece of obviously designed alien technology fall out of the sky…. but one that was entirely beyond our comprehension as to its purpose…That we seriously could not detect design there unless we could discern it’s purpose?

Or even more to the point…. If SETI discovered some signal that bore all the hallmarks of intentional / intelligent transmission (various clearly non-repeating but obviously intentional and non-natural depictions, etc.) you would really say that they had no business claiming they had “detected” design unless they could also state what the purpose of those radio signals actually was?

Please clarify if I have misunderstood your argument, but as it is, it flies in the face of common sense to me, and is arguing against the very obvious. OF COURSE we can detect design in things even if we have no idea of the designer’s intent or purpose.

This claim, that we can only detect design if we somehow know or have even some inkling of the purpose that said designer would have designed… seems to me special pleading in the extreme… an argument crafted with the sole purpose of excluding the design argument, and which obviously fails when held up to numerous counter-examples as well as common sense.


I always appreciate your contributions here, Daniel.

Without oversimplifying, are you essentially saying that:

  1. We can detect design and design intent in non-organic, manufactured objects (eg. A circuit board, alien object, etc.).
  2. Therefore we should be able to detect design and design intent in organic objects (eg. A human)
  3. Thus we should be able to identify the activity of an intelligent designer.

Is that a fair summary? I don’t want to assert a straw man, but rather am trying to understand, so please feel free to correct anything that is not right.

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This is a good start. However, there seem to be a lot of unstated assumptions in this statement of the issue. I do not see how we can make progress unless the assumptions are stated clearly. Does that make sense?

I would propose a more precise formulation of the query in order to maximize our mutual understanding:

  1. How do we detect external design and design intent in non-biological objects (eg. A circuit board, alien object, etc.)?
    a. Is this based on our familiarity with the production of those objects?
    b1. Is it based merely on outlier detection from what is deemed not designed (e.g., cloud shapes)?
    b2. If it is based on outlier detection (b), how is the boundary between not-designed and outlier determined?
    c. If not by (a) or (b), then how is external design and design intent detected in non-biological objects?

  2. Does the non-biological external design detect work for a biological system?
    a. Is detection merely by analogy to the non-biological domain?
    a1. If so, how can the analogy be proven to be apt? Are there any differences between the domain of biology and the non-biological domain that would render analogies inapt?
    b. Can biology be regarded as using algorithms? If so, would computational algorithms provide useful analogies?


Then explain the pacific islanders who thought airplanes (an obvious to us man made object) that flew overhead were gods. They wouldn’t assume that a god was designed.


@Daniel_Fisher’s right. Design, purpose is obvious even if we haven’t the faintest idea what it means. In nature that doesn’t arise.

I agree you mount a pretty solid argument here in terms of human artifacts. I think we simply recognize design due to being familiar with human manufactured items, sometimes in terms of complexity, but more often immediately from material of construction and shape or symmetry. Not only do we recognize it was designed, more to the point we recognize it was manufactured.

The inherent problem for ID is that it has to tease apart design from manufacture. There are zero intelligently designed tangible objects in human experience which may be found which have not been manufactured. In the world of nature, regardless of design, biological features are clearly not manufactured. Thus, the motors of flagellum, the gears of grasshoppers, and the ratchet of a raptors talon, may be explicable as analogous outcomes of evolution.


Although we do not need to have an exact knowledge of the purpose, we need to have a general idea. For example, we don’t need to know exactly what an interplanetary signal means in order to recognize that it does not seem to correspond to any likely-seeming nonintelligent cause. But that recognition does depend on our recognition that electromagnetic waves are a likely way for intelligent entities to communicate, despite the impression one might get from TV that it goes more with lack of intelligence. Likewise, although you did not recognize the particular purpose for the metal object, you do know that people often make metal objects as tools (defining tools quite broadly - maybe an implement, maybe part of a structure, etc.). A bit of alien technology falling to earth would likely be recognizable as a part of a machine, though we might not know what sort of machine.

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I might be persuaded to say that or something similar in another context, but in the present discussion, my intention was far more modest… limiting myself to critiquing the broad and rather absolute claim that any detection of design requires us to know something of the purpose of said design. I think that self-evidently false given even a moment’s thought.

More importantly, though, i am concerned with how or why anyone could make what appears to me to be such an obviously erroneous claim. I didn’t mean to respond specifically or solely to @paleomalacologist’s statement, as the same sentiment i have seen offered numerous times by others in this forum.

My main concern is that this line of argument seems, to me at least, an attempt to set (false) goal posts in order to simply hand-wave legitimate or serious observations about design in the biological realm, that in other contexts might demand serious consideration of design as an adequate explanation. but rather than engage with the actual data, or the rationality or logic of the argument, i have all too often seen the entire argument hand-waved on the basis of, “well, you’d have to know God’s mind or know His specific purpose or intention in order to determine than such-and-such biological phenomenon was actually designed. but if you don’t have that knowledge, then you can’t detect design.” And it is an argument that we obviously don’t use in any other context, as we’d see the absurdity of it immediately.

So, to answer your question, my observation is probably something more akin to the following:

  1. If we can obviously “detect” design in non-organic, manufactured objects even if/when we have no idea the purpose of said design
  2. Then we have no basis claiming that we need to know the purpose or intent of the designer in the biological realm in order to “detect” design there.

And if interesting, given your question… a related claim i’ve made elsewhere is related: If we grant that we can detect design, empirically, in the realms of archaeology, forensics, and (most relevantly) SETI, then there is no reason that design could not also be detected, empirically, in the biological realm. i humbly submit that any claim otherwise is merely special pleading.

respectfully submitted for your consideration.

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I think that is an accurate statement. Indeed, when DNA or RNA is purposefully manipulated, there are indications and it can be attributed to design. This is illustrated by the spike protein coded in the adenovirus used in the J and J vaccine, and in the human insulin producing E. Coli altered to commercially produce insulin, as I recall. In the current investigation to determine the origin of the Covid 19 virus, that is where the efforts are channeled to see if it was a lab produced added function to an existing coronavirus, or if it was something that more likely arose from random mutations selected through natural sources, much like the Delta variant arose. I believe that it initially and perhaps even now still appears unlikely to have been engineered from previously published coronavirus sequences, but that is a discussion for another post. In any case, it does support your statement that design should be observable.

However, I have never seen a convincing example that such has been observed, placing current ID discussion in the philosophical realm rather than the scientific. Are you aware of a good example that has escaped my very limited experience?


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