An interesting piece of science news in recent days was the proposal of a plausible function for the appendix. Clearly this clinches the argument about its design by a supernatural being. Just consider all these characteristics of the appendix:
- It apparently reboots the good bacteria in the gut if they are wiped out by another disease.
- It keeps the human population from growing too large by eliminating members of the herd now and again.
- It provides ongoing gainful employment for doctors who are regularly paid to remove them.
- What could be stronger proof of its design than the fact that it has a purpose, yet you can remove it with minimal ill effects.
What does this prove? That it is possible to “see” design in whatever one beholds. I am not against that per se, but I do find problematic the attempt to argue that this somehow implies science’s inability to come up with a natural explanation, or that the argument leads naturally (if you’ll excuse the pun) to a supramaterial creator.
If Intelligent Design is really open to aliens and time travellers being the designers, how does that match up with their express goal of combatting materialism?
At any rate, I was not surprised that the proponents of Intelligent Design were quick to mention this. What is interesting is the acknowledgement implicit in the recent post on the subject on the Uncommon Descent blog that this fits well with evolution through natural selection: its continued presence suggests that, if it does not have an essential function at present, it had one in the very recent past.
Detecting design isn’t that hard – in fact, it is too easy. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that is strictly speaking considered incompatible with intelligent design by its proponents.
Sometime soon I hope to explore a related question head-on. In what sense, if any, is appeal to God an explanation?