"Designer Wouldn't Have Done it that Way" Argument Backfires

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The following is an excerpt from I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist  (page 160-161):  Darwinists have long argued that if a designer existed, he would have designed his creatures better. Stephen Jay Gould pointed this out in his book The Panda=s Thumb, where he cited the apparent sub-optimal design of a bony extrusion pandas have for a thumb. The problem for the Darwinists is that this actually turns out to be an argument for a designer rather than an argument against one.  

First, the fact that Gould can identify something as sub-optimal design implies that he knows what optimal design is. You can=t know something is imperfect unless you know what perfect is. So Gould=s observation of even sub-optimal design implies an admission that design is detectable in the panda=s thumb. (By the way, this is another reason the Darwinists are wrong when they assert that Intelligent Design is not science. When they claim something isn=t designed correctly, they are implying they could tell if it were designed correctly. This proves what ID scientists have been saying all alongCID is science because design is empirically detectable.)  Second, sub-optimal design ­doesn=t mean there=s no design. In other words, even if you grant that something is not designed optimally, that ­doesn=t mean it=s not designed at all. Your car isn=t designed optimally, yet it=s still designedCit certainly ­wasn=t put together by natural laws. 

Third, in order to say that something is sub-optimal, you must know what the objectives or purpose of the designer are. If Gould ­doesn=t know what the designer intended, then he can=t say the design falls short of those intentions. How does Gould know the panda=s thumb isn=t exactly what the designer had in mind? Gould assumes the panda should have opposable thumbs like those of humans. But maybe the designer wanted the panda=s thumbs to be just like they are. After all, the panda=s thumb works just fine in allowing him to strip bamboo down to its edible interior. Maybe pandas don=t need opposable thumbs because they don=t need to write books like Gould; they simply need to strip bamboo. Gould can=t fault the designer of that thumb if it ­wasn=t intended to do more than strip bamboo. Finally, in a world constrained by physical reality, all design requires trade-offs. Laptop computers must strike a balance between size, weight, and performance. Larger cars may be more safe and comfortable, but they also are more difficult to maneuver and consume more fuel. High ceilings make rooms more dramatic, but they also consume more energy. Because trade-offs cannot be avoided in this world, engineers must look for a compromise position that best achieves intended objectives.  

For example, you can=t fault the design in a compact car because it ­doesn=t carry fifteen passengers. The objective is to carry four not fifteen passengers. The carmaker traded size for fuel economy and achieved the intended objective. Likewise, it could be that the design of the panda=s thumb is a trade-off that still achieves intended objectives. The thumb is just right for stripping bamboo. Perhaps, if the thumb had been designed any other way, it would have hindered the panda in some other area. We simply don=t know without knowing the objectives of the designer. What we do know is that Gould=s criticisms cannot succeed without knowing those objectives.

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