Conscious Design – Part 1

by | Nov 9, 2023

Conscious Design – Part 1

Paul K. Hubbard

I recently finished “Darwin’s Doubt” by Stephen C. Meyer. The argument for “intelligent design” always seemed repugnant to me because it is oxymoronic; that is, you cannot have unintelligent design, or for that matter, intelligent chaos. But Meyer had recently appeared on a special edition of “Uncommon Knowledge,” hosted by Peter Robinson. And he struck me as a very thoughtful and intelligent researcher that seemed constrained by nothing but science itself. And he was approaching the issue with another term. Instead of “intelligent,” he was using “conscious.”

But the book is a profoundly plodding book that seems only to prove that the Cambrian explosion resulted in the sudden emergence of multi-cellular life, and also many inexplicably different body plans to which that life conformed – yet there also seemed no natural evolutionary relationship between those differing body plans. And this proved that at this point in evolution, conscious design must have supernaturally meddled with “natural selection.” To me the book was very enjoyable because science is profoundly plodding, but it leads to inextricably revolutionary conclusions upon which our lives can be stabilized and built and by which our paradigms can truly change.

But the drawback to Meyer’s conclusion was that it was too tepid. After all this argumentation, all we get is the conclusion that the Cambrian explosion is inextricable proof of conscious design. Nevertheless, “conscious design” was, indeed, so much a better phrase – because it was not an oxymoron. For example, I could design a clock that would keep time all by itself; it did not need my attention at all, except to wind it up every so often. To catch the clockmaker in the act of winding up his machine would be worth pages and pages of plodding argumentation. That’s what Meyer did.

So to illustrate the enormity of such a discovery to scientific naturalists that are inhabiting a machine world – this winding up activity would of course be construed as a conscious intervention of the clockmaker himself into the world of his clockwork machine. For them this would be a miracle (as conventionally described)! And thus the discussion goes concerning natural causes and supernatural causes. We know that Aristotle’s prime mover is intelligent; what we don’t know is whether or not he ever consciously intervenes in his intelligent machine. Meyer proves that he did in the Cambrian age.

But here is where the argument for conscious design gets all mixed up with the argument of initial conditions, primary causes, and secondary causes. But Meyer’s argument, as it stands, is absolutely clear and unassailable. He maintains that you cannot get consciousness out of unconsciousness; you cannot get order out of chaos – and for that matter, you cannot get something out of nothing. You cannot build a clock that will wind itself. You cannot build a machine that can produce something essentially higher than the machine itself – certainly not conscious life. Modern science fiction maintains that one day artificial intelligence can become “self-aware.” But everyone who has ever programmed or built computers knows – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that this is impossible. It is pure myth that could never come true – not in another 13.6 billion years.

But what scientific materialists argue is not necessarily for an unintelligent God – or even for an unconscious God. They are arguing (ostensibly) that God could create consciousness through the unconscious processes of secondary causes without intervention. Which of course, is logically absurd. So why make such an absurd argument? It would seem that the scientific materialists of today only employ this argument against religious “creationists” – yet in any other religiously neutral venue, they candidly admit that the difference between life and non-life is catastrophically different.

It is not that a mechanistic universe can sometimes throw up the signs (or perhaps even the illusion) of life – of consciousness – as if it were some rare gem, as if scientists were saying – ‘oh yes, we have seen evidence of conscious activity in the universe, but though it is extremely rare, we understand it to be the result of unconscious forces banging around, occasionally creating the illusion of consciousness, as we ourselves, even today, mistakenly believe in the supernatural consciousness of our own minds as distinct from the machine-like nature of the universe, and of our own bodies – a ghost, as it were, in the machine. No, this kind of dogged determinism belongs to another century.

In the 1997 American film, “Contact,” when Dr. Ellie Arroway, lounging on the hood of her car, first hears the “Contact” signal, there is absolutely no question in her mind that this is a WOW! signal. This was a conscious signal that has originated with conscious life outside our solar system! There is no one in the SETI community (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) that would not immediately recognize such a WOW signal, just as she did. No one. There would not be this incessant apologetical drone anywhere in this community as you hear today in the naturalistic science of biological evolution against religious creationists and theistic evolutionists – that, after all, there is nothing to see here. Or hear. If this were true, why was she listening in the first place?

The drone is there in Meyer’s venue because in the evolution theory of scientific materialism, no amount of evidence of conscious design, conscious activity or even of consciousness itself, suddenly appearing against the black, non-living environment of a non-living machine, can be tolerated, especially when theists are looking. Thus there is an extraordinary disconnect between these two sciences – one desperately looking for signs of life and knowing instantly that it is living if it should appear – and another doggedly arguing that consciousness is simply a logical but rare illusion of an unconscious machine. How do we explain this disconnect? …to be continued…