Friday, August 27, 2010

Intelligent Agency

It is surprising that the concept of intelligent agency in bio-systems or in the cosmos at large is rejected so vehemently by many science professionals. There is no disagreement from that community that the many physical systems we encounter in everyday life fall generally into one of several categories. They may clearly manifest intelligent input and causation, or there is uncertainty, or there is no evidence of intelligent input and causation. Uncertainty provides the occasion for careful, further investigation. Sometimes the intelligent input is obviously highly complex and organized. At other times the intelligent input is less obvious and shows a lower level of organization. Identifying intelligent agency in system organization, however, is usually not a difficult task.

Using human body cells as an example, the structure and function of our many trillions of body cells is becoming better known with each passing year. A study of any contemporary high school or college biology textbook would make a 1950 edition seem primitive by comparison. The makeup of thousands of molecules and the exquisitely functional structures they form within the cell stretch the imagination. Here we speak only on the level of the cell, not the organization of tissues, organs, organ systems, or the complete organism. In Darwin’s day such information would have read like science fiction with the author’s creative talents gone wild.

At a more mundane level, when we inspect our children’s bedroom and closet, our home’s kitchen, or even our local school district’s 10th grade biology classroom, we easily detect the operation of an intelligent agent. At times we may be more impacted by the absence of intelligent input than by its presence. In our everyday life experience, identification of organization as an outcome of an intelligent mind at work is a fairly simple matter.

It is difficult to separate a cell’s structure from its function. The relationship of structure and function is a basic theme of biology, but is not always clearly evident when we examine the cell’s structure. But we wonder how the cell’s design is related to function: What functions are enabled by the cell’s design features?

The cell is a paragon of efficient packing and storage. It is complex and intricately organized. Seen visually through various types of microscopes, we may even pronounce it aesthetically beautiful. For a mundane example, we may inspect a suspension bridge spanning a river. We admire its structure without immediately considering its function in facilitating transportation. Likewise, we could examine the cell and admire its structure as a prelude to understanding how it functions.

Even without considering the function of cells to build, benefit and sustain the organism, it is not intuitively difficult to perceive intelligent agency in their origin. We define intelligent agency in this blog as the creative actions of the God of the Bible.