Post Author: Bill Pratt
The intelligent design movement claims that when we look at certain features of the natural world, we are justified in inferring that these features were designed by an intelligent agent or designer. The exact arguments are hashed out elsewhere on this blog and in numerous books and websites.
One of the most common responses to the inference that a feature of the natural world is designed is the question: “Well then, who designed the designer?” The point of this question seems to be that merely positing a designer is useless unless we can say what caused the designer.
In a recent post written by Barry Arrington on the Uncommon Descent blog, he refutes the idea that we must know the cause of a designer before we can infer that a designer exists. Here is his short, but clear refutation:
Step 1: Assume that Craig Venter succeeds in developing an artificial life form and releases it into the wild.
Step 2: Assume that a researcher (let’s call him John) later finds one of Venter’s life forms, examines it, and concludes that it was designed by an intelligent designer.
Step 3: John’s design inference is obviously correct. Note that John’s design inference is not any less correct if he (a) does not know who Craig Venter is; and (b) is unable to say who designed Craig Venter.
Craig Venter is , of course, a famous scientist who is doing research on synthetic life forms, so he serves Arrington’s refutation well. I hope you can see why the demand to say who designed Craig Venter is completely irrelevant to the inference that Venter designed the artificial life form. The fact that John discovered that this life form was designed is an important scientific finding, in and of itself.
The goal of asking “Who designed the designer?” as a way of derailing design inferences just does not work.