An Alien Argument for Intelligent Design

Courtesy of Viralportal
Courtesy of Viralportal

P1. Cosmologists discover a brand new planet and astronauts land on it for exploration purposes.
P2. On landing the astronauts come across a complex structure, with engines, rotors, pumps, and digital code.
C1: They draw the conclusion an intelligent designer is behind this complex structure.


1. Is their conclusion the best explanation for what they have found?
2. [Given that they are] . . . completely at a loss to answer any questions [about] . . . the nature of that intelligent designer [, is that failing] detrimental [to] . . . [the claim that] the intelligent designer IS the best explanation?

*argument quoted entire from Matthew Bell. Question 2, revised and updated 10 May 2013 by me.

16 thoughts on “An Alien Argument for Intelligent Design

  1. 1 sure
    2 it is not a fact that they’d be at a loss to answer any questions about the nature of the designer. Just as archaeologists here can learn enormous amounts of information from ruins so could we on this alien world. Because we humans have designed pumps, rotors and digital code it follows that similar beings would have constructed these. We would learn a great deal about their society.

    Of course there iare suppressed premises here that is absent for demonstrating intelligent design on a universe scale. This would be P1 complex things like multicellular organisms, cannot develop without the assistance an intelligent designer. P2 comples organisms exits C: some intelligence designed complex organisms.

    This is a weak argument since we know that complex organisms can evolve without an intelligent designer.

    1. 42Oolon, you said: “This is a weak argument since we know that complex organisms can evolve without an intelligent designer.”–but isn’t this precisely what needs to be demonstrated? The whole thrust of this argument is that we DON’T know that organisms can evolve without an intelligent designer. The inference to an alien intelligence is the natural thought when we find apparent “intent” in what seems to be specified complexity (not just complexity or cumulative complexity), If you grant that, as you just did, then you grant the central premise of Intelligent Design.

      1. Are you denying the evidence of evolution? Or are you suggesting the lack of a fully well -supported theory of abiogenesis is evidence of intelligent design?

      1. Your problem is that question one and two are incompatible. They must infer something about the designer, namely that it is intelligent, that it designed pumps, that it desired technology, that it had certain tasks it wanted to achieve etc. They cannot be at a loss to answer any questions about the designer and the second question is meaningless.

  2. No, I think I see what you mean. You mean they can’t answer questions like how many designers, what the designers were like, etc. To which the answer to the revised question would be no, that’s not detrimental. You don’t have to have ALL the answers in order to draw some proper conclusions.

  3. I’m thinking in the area of Stonehenge here. We still have NO idea what that’s about. But we know someone made it, at the least, thus prompting many theories on who and why.

    1. We know a great deal about Stonehenge. We know it is basically a kind of solar and lunar calendar used for religious purposes. We know when it was built, how long it was used and where the stone was quarried. We do not know everything about it but we know volumes of things about its builders and function. The only silly thing would be to conclude would be that a supernatural force was involved its construction.

      1. 42Olon, you just granted the basic inductive validity of Intelligent Design. You inferred a designer, with intentional purposes for the mechanism observed, via the evidence of apparent design.

      2. We really don’t know it was a solar and lunar calendar used for religious purposes. We’re guessing. It’s one of those theories about who, and why. No one left records telling us what it was for. We haven’t found artifacts which give us compelling evidence as to its use (like how one might find old “dishes” in/around a site that was used for food prep and eating.) We’ve found pretty much nothing but Stonehenge itself, at the site. All else is guesswork without more data. Point is, you don’t need more data to know for sure that there was intelligent design behind Stonehenge. It’s not natural, so someone made it. And we don’t know who or why. Period. We can’t explain it. We’re at a loss. All we have are guesses. But notice the interesting thing: We’re compelled to guess, because we know it was a who, and we are sure there must be a why. And we search for answers. Simply observing the structure gives us no more information than, “Hey look, somebody made this.” I think that might be what the original question is implying, after re-reading it and the subsequent comments.

  4. Of course I do not deny that intelligent design can be inferred! We do it with human artifacts because we know all about humans. However, biological life on Earth does not imply intelligent design, quite the opposite.

    You still need to explain why you say we would be at a loss to explain “anything” about the nature of the designers on the alien world. We would clearly learn a great deal about them. We could make the inference that they would be something like us, because they designed technology we recognize as technology.

    1. Quite the opposite? I assume you don’t mean that intelligent design implies biological life–as that would be the inverse, but that’s what I’d argue, not what you’d argue.

      And, how unlike human intelligence would a causal force have to be for you to consider it an illicit inference?

      1. Nope, I mean the numerous examples of things we find in nature which are inconsistent with intelligent design but entirely consistent with evolution.

        What I want to know is do you still think that we would be at a loss to explain “anything” about the nature of the designers on the alien world?

  5. My inference from apparent design to a possible supernatural entity is not an appeal to magic or mystery, but rather an inference to an foreign intelligence, be it an alien or a God, they have their respective strengths and weaknesses in terms of explanatory power.

    1. Of course we infer design of pumps, rotors, digital tech, because we have experience in designing these things ourselves. We use induction to conclude, that similar beings designed these things. We would need experience of evidence of design by supernatural means to infer supernatural design.

      Do you still think that we would be at a loss to explain “anything” about the nature of the designers on the alien world?

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