Sunday, October 09, 2005

Where's God's Brain (on drugs)?

FNORDWhen I use a piece of technology, I know that it was designed, because technology always is designed. Technologies always are the result of intelligent design. Based on this experience, when I encounter a living organism, its complexity should convince me that it too was designed—and by an intelligence greater than a merely human one. This much is orthodox Intelligent Design (ID) doctrine. ID theorists call this line of thinking the design inference. But whenever I meet anyone who has designed something, the person’s intelligence always operates through a physical brain. Based on this experience, when I see evidence of a superhuman intelligence, I should conclude that it operates through a superhuman brain. So, where’s God’s brain? Or look at the ID concept of “specified complexity,” which is another way of saying that the chemistry of biology is so precise that an intelligent designer must have laid it out in advance. And let’s remember that it’s not the Intelligent Manufacturing argument, nor the Intelligent Marketing argument, nor even the Intelligent Improvisation argument. It’s the Intelligent Design argument. The word “design” necessarily implies an intent on the part of the creative agent. I call this the intentional inference. If a device is designed to function in a particular way, then we can infer that the designer intends it to be used in that way. If, for example, nature’s designer designs enzymes that bind to specific receptor sites on certain biological cells and in doing so catalyze certain chemical reactions, then we can infer that the designer intends that the enzymes be used in that way. We are not likely to conclude that it is a happy coincidence that the design came about by sheer chance to perfectly fit the receptor site on that particular kind of cell and catalyze that specific chemical reaction, but that the designer doesn’t want the catalysis to happen. That would be silly. So, what are we to make of the fact that various plants, and even certain lowly fungi, contain molecules that coincidentally fit neatly into certain receptors on certain brain cells so as to produce feelings of pleasure? The chemical “fit” of the molecules and the brain receptors is complex and highly specified. Clearly, the intelligent designer must intend that these substances be used for their pleasurable effects. The specificity of the chemical fit precludes any possibility of it being merely an unintended coincidence. See what happens when you take ID seriously? One can only wonder why ID theorists don’t explore the implications of their own theory. Maybe their theology is incompatible with where it leads. Indeed, maybe the United States periodically incurs God's wrath not because of gay rights, or abortion, or cussing out loud, but because we have rejected—outlawed!—God's natural drugs and out of hubris substituted for them our own laboratory pharmaceuticals, the synthetic molecules that constitute the country's biggest drug-abuse problem. Scripture tells us of God's pride in his gifts:
"Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth . . . And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold it was very good."
Intelligent Design. Hmmmm. . . what a brilliant insight.