Concepts like "irreducible complexity" to examples of finding a watch or a tornado spontaneously assembling a 747 in a junkyard. All these images are invoked by Intelligent Design as an argument against evolution.
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.Yet, this is wrong, even from ID's perspective.
Since the argument invariably follows from examining the complexity of inanimate objects, then the presumption is that when one sees a system based on a particular set of functions, then it cannot have evolved, but it must have been specifically designed.
So, let's take this argument at face value and apply it to the ID examples.
If we consider the 747 jet, then the assumption of design is invoked because such complexity cannot arise randomly. Forgoing the complete misunderstanding about randomness, what is wrong with this argument?
Since the 747 is an aircraft, we have to ask where did the design originate? We can immediately see that it didn't occur directly, but rather was the result of an evolutionary process beginning with the Wright Brothers [and even previous unsuccessful attempts at flight]. So, once flight was achieved, instead of designs simply arising, we see a long evolutionary process of designs, improvements, further designs, further improvements, etc. etc. etc. In fact, one could argue that once the principles of flight were understood, the process gave rise to their own class of "speciation" events giving rise to helicopters,ultra-lights, and other modes of air travel [even the space shuttle].
Similarly if one examines the proverbial watch or any other object of complexity that is introduced. In no instance is the object produced directly by design. Rather the object in question is invariably the result of design, evolution, and selection. At each design step, the characteristics that work best get selected for incorporation in future versions of the object.
There are simply no exceptions.
Therefore any object that exhibits design also exhibits evolution and selection. It is, in effect, what we call progress.
From this we can see that the problem ID overlooks is that the question isn't about specific objects like watches and jet aircraft any more than it is about jellyfish or chimpanzees. It is about the processes that gave rise to the means by which such objects/organisms evolve. Therefore the process is the critical element that results in their production.
If one were to examine the development of computers, one would see a gradual evolutionary path, giving rise to other "species" such as the iPad or iPhone, etc. Each of which is designed, based on the operational parts of its predecessors. Successful elements are conserved, while design operates by taking the successful parts of the past developments and incorporating them in future products.
Therefore, if one were to accurately apply Intelligent Design to biology, one would have to conclude that the requisite explanatory part must define the process, not the object. Therefore, intelligence doesn't design objects, it designs the means by which objects can be produced.
A common criticism invokes "irreducible complexity" as an argument against evolution, and yet, this quite clearly requires evolution. Examine your iPad or laptop and you'll find all manner of components that, if missing, would render the whole inoperative. Yet, we also know that your iPad or laptop is a direct result of computer evolution, so that it consists of those elements that have been gradually improved upon and integrated into the object you are now viewing this article on.
Yet, someone may well invoke the argument that the distinction is that these processes aren't random, but clearly show a purpose; i.e. they are directed. But that isn't true, since no one can anticipate what discoveries or inventions may occur, so from the perspective of the final product they are completely random [or at least as random as biological processes] when viewed in hindsight. Since biological processes aren't random either [merely unpredictable], then the purported evidence for ID, would also require such unpredictability. After all, if everything were predictable, then the Wright Brothers would've simply flown the 777 Dreamliner at Kitty Hawk and it would represent the culmination of man's flight capabilities. Yet, even here, no one expects that the 777 is the last word on human flight.
As a result, Intelligent Design absolutely requires that evolution and natural selection be true. Just as the first developers of the computer couldn't design, much less envision, an iPad, nor could the Wright Brothers design the 777 Dreamliner. The designer has no concept of where these processes may lead. Similarly, it would be absurd to argue that an intelligent designer of the universe, would be able to predict the directions such process creation could take. Claims to the contrary are no longer discussing ID, but invoking the supernatural.
Consequently one can only conclude that Intelligent Design is not an argument against evolution. It clearly indicates that it also requires evolution and natural selection to fulfill it's predictions. Therefore, at best, it is simply an argument about origins and not evolution.