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“A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide

Tesla factory
Photo: Tesla factory, by Steve Jurvetson / CC BY.

Earlier this year, my brother Kirk (the little guy in the video thumbnail below) and I turned an October 2020 Evolution News post into a video, “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design,” which was highlighted by Brian Miller in a January 2021 post. The video has now been translated into Spanish (subtitles by myself and Fabian Fuentes) and Polish (subtitles by Adam Wojcicki). 

When I shared the video with a pastor friend, Steve Hughey, he urged me to write a “study guide” so the video could be used to facilitate the discussion of intelligent design in, for example, a seminary class or church group. I have now created such a study guide. It can be downloaded here.

A Sample from Section 3

The first two sections include links to other videos which provide more detailed lists of the conditions on Earth and the physical laws of our universe that are extremely “fine-tuned” for life. The other sections include some comments as well as questions for further discussion. Here is a sample from Section 3, “The Origin of Life”: 

Although it is far beyond our current technology, imagine that engineers were able to someday produce a “model B” 3D printer which could print another, normal (“model A”) 3D printer. (One manufacturer claims their 3D printer “prints itself” but in fact it only produces the plastic components, not the electronic circuits or the computer and software that drives it, or any of the metal parts, and it doesn’t even assemble the plastic parts!) But since it only prints a normal model A printer, it would not be a self-replicating machine. Now suppose, after great effort, engineers added enough technology to the original printer so that this new model C printer could print, not just a normal model A printer, but a model B printer that has enough technology to itself print normal 3D printers. But would the original printer now be a self-replicating machine? No, because the model B printer it produces is, unlike the original, only able to print normal, model A, 3D printers! So, back to work! 

Discussion Questions 

A. The above discussion makes us wonder if it is even theoretically possible to design any self-replicating machine, yet such machines exist everywhere in the living world. (And we haven’t even mentioned the very important issue of how such a machine scavenges for the raw materials it needs to use in building the replicates!) Do you think human engineers might someday design a self-replicating machine? 

B. What are the chances then of such a machine arising by pure chance, even given a planet with fine-tuned conditions, and a universe with fine-tuned laws? 

C. The video “Why Evolution Is Different” (19:40+) invites us to imagine that human engineers were able to design cars with car building factories inside, with the ability to build new cars with car building factories inside them. If we left these cars alone to reproduce themselves, generation after generation, there would inevitably be duplication errors from time to time. Do you think there is any chance that natural selection could organize these duplication errors into more advanced “species,” or would they eventually lead to the extinction of the species? 

I hope some readers will find this study guide and video useful tools for introducing and facilitating discussion of intelligent design in their church or synagogue study group.