Slim pickings for an Intelligent Designer

If we are to believe the proponents of Intelligent Design, the “designer” could be a number of different beings.  In this post, I am going to go through a thought experiment to determine the characteristics that would be necessary for a designer.  At the end, I will run through a list of possible candidates for the designer.  Please feel free to mention anything that I have missed.

Characteristics of a designer:

Inconceivably powerful – In order for the designer to have accomplished all that is given credit to it, the designer would need the ability to repeatedly create life out of thin air.  This designer would have to create each individual species that has ever lived on earth.  Since their appears to be more than 1.5 million species alive today, the amount of planning, raw materials, energy, and time required would be astronomical.

Sloppy – There are so many design flaws in living organisms that one would have to assume that the designer would have to be not only inconceivably powerful, but also very sloppy.  An efficient designer wouldn’t allow things like a rabbit needing to eat its own poop in order to digest it.  They would also not allow for things like birth defects, prevalence of poor eyesight, or cancer.

Cunning – The designer would have to be extremely secretive about its involvement in the life of the earth.  There are no blueprints lying around for us to examine.  There is no landing strips for the designer.  There are no artifacts of which the designer used to engineer the earth’s organisms.

Practical Joker – How else would you describe something that gives the impression that life arose through evolution?  Somewhere, the designer must think it is really funny to have all organisms to be able to be grouped into a phylogenetic tree that matches the underlying genetic code similarities.

Possible designers:

God – Of course the most obvious designer would be God itself.  Since God by definition is all knowing and all powerful, there is no use in discussing its attributes.  However, I would like to point out that there is no discussion of intelligent design in the bible.  In fact, the bible seems to indicate that all of life was made at once without the intervening organisms that are proposed by intelligent design and seen in the fossil record.

Aliens – In order for a species of aliens to be the designer, they would have to be thousands or millions of years more technologically advanced than humans.  As stated above, they would have to have inconceivable power.  Then where are these aliens today?  Why haven’t we been able to detect any sort of evidence of their existence?  Its not like we haven’t been looking or listening.

It is not clear what motivation such a species would have to be so involved with life on earth.  I guess it could be for their own personal enjoyment, but that seems like a boring way to have fun.  One could also suppose that they wanted to create some sort of companionship to an otherwise cold universe.

Future Humans – Perhaps the designer is actually humans from the future that decided that they would need to go back in time in order to ensure that humans would exist.  In order to accomplish this task, the future humans would use the paleogeographic record as a blueprint.  They would have to painstakingly recreate every known and to be discovered organism that existed on the planet.  Of course this all depends on the ability for humans to be able to repeatedly time travel, which seems to be prohibited by the laws of physics.

Secret society of underground creatures – Yes, I know this is ridiculous, but none of the other ideas for designers seems plausible either.

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4 Responses

  1. Wouldn’t the designer need to be irreducibly complex as well?

  2. Not sure if you’ve seen this yet, but Nature has a list of 15 evolutionary gems (subtitled: a resource…for those wishing to spread the awareness of evidence for evolution by natural selection). Her’e’s the link (it’s a pdf file).

    Now regarding that intelligent designer. If it’s so intelligent, why does it create creatures like the kangaroo whose hairless, blind, 1″ long baby must, right after birth, climb it’s way up the front of the mother and nose it’s way into the pouch just to get to the milk spigot? Why didn’t the designer simply create a hatch directly to the pouch? Or at least give the poor thing an elevator!

  3. skepticpedi,
    I am no too sure about that. If the designer was irreducibly complex, then that would imply a designer of the designer. Then I guess the question would then be is the that designer irreducibly complex? And so on…

    I think we can add the suffering of baby kangaroos to the category of practical joker. Either that, or we need to concede that the designer must also be a sadist.

  4. Ah yes, I forgot that Creationists attribute a certain amount of “playfulness” to God. One moment, God will be creating and smiting, while at another God is a happy puppy with a chew toy.


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