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Part III – What does “intelligent” mean?

January 3rd, 2006 | 1 min read

By Keith E. Buhler

A hearty thanks to Warren for his thoughtful responses.

There is a second misunderstanding that I have observed twice or thrice, here or there. It is a simple and understandable one, having to do with the term “intelligent.”

Warren conveniently supplied me with an instance of the misunderstanding here:

“…Yet it cannot define “intelligent,” and so cannot make any falsifiable predictions.

For example, a man’s urethra, passes through his prostate which is prone to inflammation later in life causing all kinds of problems. That does not appear to be “intelligent.”

If a designer is intelligent, one might expect him to reuse the innovation from one organism on any other. But in an evolved system, an organism can only use and make minor modifications to traits inherited from its ancestors.

So then which hypothesis explains why birds and bats, both engineered for flying, do not share traits such as hollow bones, feathers, and wishbones? Could an eagle not benefit from a canine-like mouth? Maybe beaks are better for flying. But then why did bats not get any?”

There are plenty of examples to be amassed about parts or systems of nature not working correctly. Quite simply, this is not the point.

Perhaps a better term than “Intelligent Design” is “Intentional design.” Intelligence simply refers to a thoughtful, willful agent acting with a purpose. How “intelligent” this person is in accomplishing their purpose is quite irrelevant.

The interpretation of certain irreducibly complex systems like the Flagellum Motor is this: “The evidence suggests that this system, which cannot (yet) be accounted for by evolution, but is already well explained by intention.”

Rather than ask, “If there is an ‘Intelligent Designer’, why do some things work poorly? Rather ask, “If there is no designer, why does anything work at all?”

Right now, the best explanation for the “suprising fact” that the universe “appears to be designed” is.. Well, that it was intentionally designed.