Designoids versus Intelligent Design
There are many different avenues to take on the subject of teleology in nature. We can talk about how design is deduced by humans in real-life disciplines (such as crime scene analysis or archaeology). We can also point to the innumerable examples of obvious bad designoids in biology. In this entry I rather want to discuss the worldview that each side - Neo-Darwinism and divine teleology - implies.
In Neo-Darwinism, all biological organisms are designoids (a term coined by Dawkins to denote the illusion of design), and the idea of design as complexity must be rejected as an arbitrary a priori. Scientists do not reject teleology as a principle, but to say that a non-natural teleology is responsible for anything is not meaningful, because such a hypothesis is not empirical or testable (I don't agree with that position, but that's another matter entirely). Naturalism is assumed as the only workable premise.
In divine teleology, however, non-natural teleology is not just a hypothesis but a point of faith, which makes it a religious belief. Intelligent Design advocates claim that they don't have a designer in mind, but we know that's a little white lie, as ID is clearly part of the greater Christian Creationist programme. But in order to prop up their ontological opposition to naturalism, ID advocates, and people upholding the Christian worldview in general, often use the "chance or design" dilemma. As I've argued before on this blog, the "chance or design" dilemma is particularly interesting because it illustrates the fundamental failings of divine teleology to account for more complex forms of order.
To a scientist, the dilemma is obviously wrong because there is only one valid option - natural law. The evolution of biological designoids is regulated by defined, measurable processes like natural selection, mutations, genetic drift, and so on. None of these are "chance" - otherwise they wouldn't be defined or measurable - and neither are they "design" - since no intentionalities underlie them.
My hypothesis is that people who follow the Christian worldview, due to religious education perhaps, are unable to understand complex concepts of order such as natural law. The most they can understand is divine teleology, the simplest and most accessible kind of order (since we directly observe intentionality every day by looking at other humans' actions). It was therefore only natural for primitive philosophers to give religious answers to important questions, since only divine creation was accessible to their unsophisticated minds. In this view, God is a transposition of human action on a universal scale. Christian Creationism and ID are therefore a remnant of that primitivism.
If this is true, what does it tell us about the current debate ? It would perhaps explain why the vast majority of Christian scientists (however incongruous such a mix of worldviews can be) accept the validity of Neo-Darwinism. However, I'm afraid it also makes resolution dependent on profound social factors such as the quality and nature of education. But no one said there were easy answers.