The Seed-Product Model and Intelligent Design

To this point, I have written several blog entries which seek to expose why Richard Dawkins is wrong (in many ways) in his bombastic attack on Christianity. But I have not yet spent any time on why Dawkins is wrong on his attack on Intelligent Design. Fortunatly, I don't have to put too much work into the topic because The Asian Tribune (which agrees that Dawkins position vis-a-vis religion is misguided) has presented an interesting case as to why Dawkins is wrong in his attacks on Intelligent Design in an essay entitled The problem with Dawkins’ anti-God crusade by Vasantha Raja.

In discussing Dawkins' approach to ID, Raja makes the following statement:

[H]is arguments seem to fail to refute the powerful insights ID theorists continue to develop – which in my view will eventually prove to be positively fruitful for the scientific method itself.

The crux of his arguments, above all, seems to reveal his empiricist prejudices that inhibit development of a heuristically rich model as a methodological guide for all branches of science. In other words, Dawkins’ approach amounts to a dogmatic defence of a world outlook (model) that is clearly being brought into question by the latest discoveries of science, particularly in the field of biology.

The question is whether his line of argument prevents science from transcending the methodological strictures it inherited from post-renaissance empiricism.

Now, Raja takes a position that I have not heard before, so let me try to summarize it (encouraging readers to read the article for themselves in order to determine my accuracy for themselves). He begins by noting that "[a] DNA, for instance, is impregnated with the full potential to determine the general form of the final product." In other words, if you plant a lemon seed you will eventually get a lemon tree. The particulars of the lemon tree that you get depends upon factors in the lemon seed itself and the environment acting on it. However, the lemon tree will remain true to the information contained in the lemon seed.

Now, suppose that the entire history of life (what most people see as the story of evolution) is of a similar ilk. Suppose that within all existence is the information that is necessary to lead to the entire universe as we know it right from the start. In such a situation, it isn't the case that natural selection is the deciding course for development. Rather, environmental obstacles allow the inherent features that have alwasys been there to come to the forefront.

Thus, environmental hurdles must have been just part of the mechanism that periodically brought out the inherent potential of evolving genes. Whether these seemingly separate parameters – the evolving genes and the environmental hurdles - have been parts of a well-coordinated grand design is another interesting aspect related to cosmological evolution.

And, one day, if the 'original seed' that blew up in the Big Bang is found to be brimming with 'information' to guide the evolution of the universe as a whole -- of which phylogenesis and ontogenesis are mere parts -- then the starting point of our universe will turn out to be far more complex than any part of subsequent developments - not a simple beginning as Dawkins would like to have.

If we substitute the 'seed-product' model demonstrated in Biology to the evolution of our universe with the backing of the anthropic principle -- the 'simple' unit that exploded some fifteen (perhaps, thirteen and a half) billion years ago must have contained all the necessary ingredients to determine the subsequent processes.

Thus, Dawkins will not be able to dodge the 'statistical improbability' argument in relation to the 'seed' either. We will be once again trapped in the 'egg-chicken dilemma' – an 'Intelligent Designer' to cause the 'Big Bang Egg', and a 'Big Bang Egg' to cause the 'Designer', and so on ad infinitum.

To break this vicious circle we may have to resort to a ‘higher order’ that transcends space-time concepts . . . .

This is, in my view, an interesting reconception of the theistic evolution argument. The article goes on and gives more arguments and building the case. I found it very interesting and haven't quite made up my mind about my own feelings about it. I would be interested in any insights anyone cares to post.


Weekend Fisher said…
C.S. Lewis made a similar argument with similar analogies (though in layman's language) some time ago. Hope you don't mind a short excerpt:

"I am not in the least denying that organisms on this planet may have 'evolved'. But if we are to be buided by the analogy of Nature as we know her, it would be reasonable to suppose that this evolutionary process was the second half of a long pattern -- that the crude beginnings of life on this planet have themselves been 'dropped' there by a full and perfect life."

His whole line of reasoning is much better developed. That's from the essay "The Funeral of a Great Myth". Do you have anything with that essay in it? I have a copy of it in The Seeing Eye: And Other Selected Essays From Christian Reflections.
Jason Barr said…
This is a very interesting line of inquiry regarding ID. I'm a Christian but I'll be honest, I've not really been all that big on ID for a number of reasons; however, I think Raja's thinking has a lot of potential.

I wonder if the skeptic would have to resort to some argument involving the Uncertainty Principle here, or perhaps Chaos Theory, if that would have any implications. I'm not really a science guy, though, so I wouldn't even know where to begin such an interaction.

It does provide food for thought though.

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