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The Identity of the Designer
Strangely, IDists vehemently insist, at least in secular contexts, that ID "theory" says nothing about the Intelligent Designer. Nonetheless, it doesn't take much searching to find out that the main candidate is God. Essentially every major IDist has explicitly made the ID=God connection in sectarian settings. The two possible exceptions are not really ID advocates: David Berlinski seems to be an equal-opportunity hyperskeptic of ID and evolution (Berlinski, see Has Darwin met his match?), and Michael Denton seems to have given up the special creationist arguments in his 1986 book Evolution, a Theory in Crisis, now accepting evolution and only advocating design in the cosmic sense in the form of anthropic coincidences, as is apparent in his 1999 book Nature's Destiny.
However, two other possibilities are sometimes brought up as alternatives to God for the IDer. These are:
- Space aliens. For example, Philip Johnson was quoted by a reporter saying, "in principle it could be space aliens of high intelligence who did the designing"; Of course, this brings up the question: what is the origin of those life forms? (Source: Freedberg, Louis. "Intelligent design's public defender." San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, April 21, 2002
- Superintelligent time-traveling humans from the future. According to rumour, former DI spokesman Mark Edwards said this, although I cannot find the quote. However, Behe wrote on pp. 249-250 of Darwin's Black Box:
- Perhaps, then, biochemists in the future will send back cells to the early earth that contain the information for the irreducibly complex structures we observe today. In this scenario humans can be their own aliens, their own advanced civilization. Of course, time travel leads to apparent paradoxes (things like grandsons shooting grandfathers before their offspring are born), but at least some physicists are ready to accept them. Most people, like me, will find these scenarios entirely unsatisfactory, but they are vailable [sic] for those who wish to avoid unpleasant theological implications.
It is inherent in ID (the movement) that the designer never be identified. Not just because doing so would get in difficulties with the law, but also because then there would be a hypothesis that could be tested. Is the one identified designer clearly responsible for everything or are multiple designers required? Did the designer intervene just once or multiple times? Is the designer active today in shaping life? Did the designer make mistakes, or, if there are "weaknesses" in evolution and anything unexplainable is "design", why is the designer often so incompetent? Does the designer just operate here on earth or in the entire universe? What is the mechanism through which the designer works? And so forth. An identified designer is subject to inquiry, a mysterious and miraculous designer with no limits on its power can do anything. So the designer must remain concealed or quickly contradictions in its role could be found. Now, on the political side, of course, the designer must be the one we don't mention to avoid legal actions.
It is important to note that an algorithm can be considered a designer. This would typically include the Evolutionary algorithm of Natural Selection. This is why the qualifier "intelligent" is typically affixed to the term. This is convenient because intelligence is typically used in a comparative since rather than as a qualifier. i.e. Humans are intelligent, but rocks are not intelligent. There is absolutely nothing that prevents a non-organic entity from being intelligent. This is typically side-stepped by advocates of intelligent design by claiming that to be intelligent, something must be sentient. This qualifies as a tautology, and this tautology is the only thing that prevents the intelligent designer from being evolution.