Joined: Oct. 2006
A Positive Theory of Intelligent Design.
As Howard Van Till has observed, Intelligent Design requires both “mind-like” and “hand-like” actions. While it is a commonplace that Design requires the origination of planful, mind-like intentions, it is perhaps less obvious that design also requires a mechanism by means of which mind-like design is impressed, hand-like, onto matter/energy.
What has been lacking in the ID literature is a positive theory of these mind-like and hand-like phases of design, and of their interaction, one that generates testable hypotheses and hence promotes ID to the status of a genuine empirical science. Avocationist was challenged to provide such a theory, but was unable to do so. It is my aim here to step up and suggest such a positive theory, one that I hope gives rise to both theoretical and empirical investigation that further shapes and informs the science of Intelligent Design. It is also my aim to draw upon the creative brilliance and generosity often displayed by participants of AtBC to build upon and expand this potentially revolutionary new view of nature.
What follows is a brief abstract of this positive, empirical theory.
I. Biological causality reflects the operation of two basic, complimentary units: Thinks and Poofs. A Think is a mind-like, timeless-sizeless representation of a Thing. A Poof is a hand-like manipulation of matter-energy such that the appropriate Thing is physically instantiated. A Think without a Poof is incapable of interacting with matter/energy, is therefore undetectable, and hence remains a somewhat of a theoretical abstraction. Similarly, a Poof can arise IFF informed by at least one Think. Because they perforce must arise together, a Think and its corresponding Poof are often denoted by the couplet shorthand ‘Think’n Poof.’ When several Thinks give rise to a Poof, a Thinks’n Poof has occurred; when a single Think gives rise to several Poofs, Think’n Poofs have occurred. And so on.
Given sufficient agentic and material resources, a Think’n Poof (or derivatives) gives rise to a Thing. Moreover, Balanced Think’n Poof calculations give rise to testable empirical predictions arising from the combinatorial mathematics of Thing Theory.
II. Thinks and Poofs are initiated by units of pure intelligent agency known as Rodins. At the current state of theoretical development the Rodin remains a placeholder concept that has yet to be given empirical grounding. It is unclear, for example, whether there is a single Rodin, two Rodins, or countless Rodins and, if there exist more than one Rodin, whether all Rodins give rise to equally efficacious Think’n Poofs. It is also unclear whether multiple Rodins stand in cooperative, competitive, or other relationship to one another, whether Rodins borrow Thinks inferred from the Things originated by other Rodins, whether Rodins have degrees of omniscience, and so forth. However, we have every reason to believe that these questions can be given empirical formulation and resolved through an appropriate combination of laboratory and field investigation.
With the above limitations in mind, we may begin to sketch the moving parts of Intelligent Design, grounding it in a calculus of Rodins, Thinks, Poofs, and Things, and indeed begin to explore the operation of these entities in any given instance of Intelligent Design.
IV. Intelligent Design may be said to have occurred when a Rodin gives rise to a Think or Thinks, which in turn invoke a Poof or Poofs in order to originate a Thing.
Rodin-initiated Thinks are mind-like, agentic, timeless-sizeless representations. Poofs do the hand-like work of actually arranging matter/energy to conform to the specification of a given Think, giving rise to a Thing. A Rodin may “choose” to formulate a grand system of interlocking Thinks all apiece, yet implement such a Think-Structure imperceptibly over deep time by issuing Poofs only slowly and sequentially. Alternatively, a Think-Structure may give rise to thousands of simultaneous Poofs, yielding an (only apparently) saltational Thing-Structure that instantaneously mirrors the underlying Think Structure. Biological Things that display Irreducible Complexity almost certainly issue from the latter sort of process: a single Rodin exerts its intrinsic intentionality to originate a complex biological Think Structure which is in turn effected by means of multiple simultaneous, interlocking Poofs.
(The reader may find it helpful to imagine countless little hands equipped with little minds issuing from a Rodin or Rodins, swarming over and grasping bits of matter-energy - say, base pairs in a DNA molecule - and manipulating them with special tweezers to form irreducibly complex biological Things.)
V. It should be clear from the above that a calculus of Rodins, Thinks, Poofs and a completed, empirical Thing Theory promises to dissolve some of the knottiest problems in biology today. For example, we may now confidently sketch the origins of life on earth: a Rodin or Rodins originated a complex Think-Structure that gave rise to both simultaneous and sequential Poofs that created the first biological Thing, detonating life on earth. All that remains is to supply the details.
In the future we hope to infer the properties of agentic Rodin or Rodins themselves, by tracing Think-Poof-Thing pathways much as the electrodynamic properties of elementary particles may be inferred from the ephemeral trails left within a cloud chamber. We anticipate that the biology of the 22nd century will be characterized by Rodin simulations, the computational modeling of Biological Think-Structures, the detection and deconstruction of Poof-efficacy at the Think-Thing interface, and a completed Thing Theory. Ultimately we may see the triumph of what has been derisively called the "Big Think" theory of the origins of the universe. We may also confidently anticipate that a bankrupt Darwinism with truly be a “think” of the past.
I look forward to your vigorous challenges and suggestions.
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.
"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace
"Hereâ€™s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington