Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Intuition and Induction

The intuitive identification of an intelligent mind at work in the design and purpose of our cosmos and the living things which inhabit it seems highly justified. From an article in Conservapedia on Intelligent Design comes this quote: “An inference of design first springs from intuition—subconscious pattern-matching that alerts the mind to a pattern that reflects a purpose or pre-existing intention.” The article continues, “Therefore, at a basic level design detection is a matter of common sense, an intuitive determination we all make based on our everyday experiences with intelligently designed things.”

Intuition is defined as “an immediate apprehension of truth, or supposed truth, in the absence of conscious, rational processes.” Intuition is an excellent starting point for our investigations of the real world, such as investigations of questions of origins. It could, or should, trigger a more formal process of investigation of our world. Some may call the more formal process an application of “inductive science,” the type of science many view as “traditional science.”

As an evidentialist, I have confidence in the function of intuition, but only as a prelude to more formal investigative processes of science, such as inductive science. Detection of the presence of intelligent design is possible along a wide range of human inquiry. For instance, in forensics, there are many instances where conclusions of intelligent design, causation, or purpose, are non-controversial. In a murder investigation, we may ask if the death was accidental, or apparently caused deliberately by the planning and actions of an intelligent agent? Archaeology provides another example. Is the excavated object merely a rock, or is it a portion of pottery apparently fashioned mindfully? And is a purpose clearly evident? If so, intelligent agency is indicated.

Those who doubt supernatural agency in designing living things with purpose and ability to function, often request physical proof for a designer, claiming evidence for a creator does not exist. They think this strengthens their assertion that creation and design proposals are not scientific. (They also exclude, by their own definition, anything from the realm of science unless it can be considered a “natural” phenomenon.)

Origins study is an example of historical science, a study of past events. No one was present to observe the events and no experimental evidence substantiates what happened. Intelligent design can be affirmed with far more certainty than can historical molecules to man evolution driven by the processes of mutation and selection. The purposeful messaging, replicating, constructing, and regulating capacities of cellular DNA are apparent for all to see. Persuasive evidence for the mechanisms of evolution is not. Broadly defined, science means knowledge--to “know.” We know intuitively and inductively. There is much to know when we examine the evidence for intelligent design in our world.