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Intelligent Design and Fine-Tuning for Scientific Discovery

Photo: Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex, by NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The main issues in the current intelligent design debate are extremely easy to understand. On the one hand, most scientists say, however hard it may be to explain the apparent design in nature without a designer, and no matter how implausible or contrary to the evidence our attempts to explain the design away may be, this apparent design cannot be real because then we would have an even more difficult problem: explaining where the designer came from. And because science has been so successful in unraveling other mysteries of nature, these scientists are convinced that nothing could possibly be beyond the reach of their science. So if they can’t understand where the designer came from, he can’t exist.

To this logic we can only reply: even if there “can’t be” any real design in nature, it is absurdly, spectacularly, blindingly obvious that there is. And that is becoming more obvious with each new biological and biochemical discovery.

A Stalemate Over Design

And so what David Berlinski calls a “stalemate” exists: we may never be able to convince the scientific majority that a designer could exist even if they can’t explain him. But I would be very satisfied if we could just get the general public to understand what the debate is really about, because most lay people have not ruled out the possibility that a designer could exist who is beyond scientific understanding.

So it is very interesting to see that evidence is now being uncovered that not only are the laws of nature, and the conditions on Earth, “fine-tuned” for life, they are also fine-tuned for scientific discovery and for the development of technology, as Guillermo Gonzalez, Jay Richards, Michael Denton, and others have shown. My video “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design” includes some discussion of this evidence, and the “Study Guide” (Section 2b) for the video includes links to other videos with more details. 

But the reason this evidence of “fine-tuning for discovery” is so satisfying to me is not just because it defeats the anthropic principle — that is, the idea that “the laws and constants of physics in our universe are so fine-tuned for life because otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it.” Who could take that seriously anyway? It is because it shows those scientists who insist that nothing could possibly be beyond the reach of their science, that the reason they have been able to reach so far with that science in the first place is because an intelligent design made it possible!