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Abstract

The idea that nature shows evidence of intelligent design has been argued by theologians and scientists for centuries. The most famous of the design arguments is Paley’s watchmaker illustration from his writings of the early 19th century. Interest in the concept of design in nature has recently had a resurgence and is often termed the Intelligent Design movement. Significant is the work of Michael Behe on biochemical systems. In his book, Darwin’s Black Box, Behe develops the idea that many biochemical systems are irreducibly complex in the sense that each component of these systems is essential for their functioning and cannot be removed or altered without compromising the system of which they are a part. Thus traditional Darwinian evolutionary theory has difficulty in explaining their development. When applied to the question of life’s origin on this planet, design arguments raise serious questions about traditional views of chemical evolution. To be considered a scientific alternative to Darwinian evolution, intelligent design needs to be empirically detectable. The development of a three-stage explanatory filter by William Dembski is arguably a fully scientific method that can, on the basis of observational data, reliably distinguish intelligent design in biological systems from undirected natural causes. However, at this stage, detection of intelligent design does not necessitate speculation on the nature of the designer, but does infer an intelligence behind the design.

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