My response to Hannah Maxson (President of the Cornell IDEA Club and discussion moderator for Allen MacNeill’s summer course on Evolution and Design), specifically, the analogy and inference of design:
It distinctly seems to me that “Design” in nature is obvious – it’s what biologists refer to as a strong link between structure and function in all of biology. I’m of course most familiar with it in cell and molecular biology, but it’s applicable to any aspect of biology… the arrangement of parts is consistently a result of selection for a specific function, as well as being bound by heredity.
As humans, we’re inclined to see through human eyes and anthropomorphize the world around us. I myself do it all the time, referring to things of all sorts with words that imply that they were “meant” to be so, as if by an intelligent force. Yet, this is where the problem comes in – there’s rarely any evidence in natural history of any intelligent force other than ourselves. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there’s never been such evidence, outside of the purview of religion – a view that has been brought to us by an oral history long before it was committed to paper. That, Hannah, is the limit of evidence for Intelligent Design.
Afterall, where does the notion of “God’s Creation” come from? Paley? Aquinas? The Bible? Or yet further back? Regardless, the preconception of Creation is a mythological view, and every cultural subgroup in our society has a different way of imagining how life originated – and these are valid within a religious and sociological framework I suppose, but not in science… if it were scientific, someone would be able to demonstrate the assemblage of parts in life’s features, and a logic in their arrangements other than exclusively descent with modification by selective processes.
So, my point is, that a useful arrangement of parts can be by natural means (the selection of features that successfully enable species to survive), or by pre-determined plan, and for the purposes of science and empiricism, the former has the entirety of the support.