Recognizing Design Entering Disneyland

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!  My family and I had the good fortune to celebrate Christmas day at Disneyland this year.  As always when we go to the park, we had a great time.  I cherish these moments with my family.   

Walking through the front gates into Disneyland is magical. Everyone enjoys getting that first glimpse of Mickey Mouse made out of flowers. I have always found this particularly enjoyable.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I grew up in Colorado and have always held a deep appreciation for wild flowers.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I personally can’t grow flowers to save my life!  If I do happen to produce plumage, it is purely by accident! 

Can We Identify a Gardener Involved in the Design?

The flowers that make up Mickey’s head as you enter Disneyland clearly didn’t arrive there by accident.  We know there are gardeners at work creating this scene for us.  Just from our common experience, we know that flowers don’t naturally grow in a detailed shape of Mickey Mouse.  

We would never expect a detailed picture made up of flowers to occur naturally.  Not only that, but factor in that this natural shape occurred in the very place you would expect there to be a pattern in the shape of Mickey Mouse.  This is too unbelievable to be a coincidence!  

Is There A Natural Explanation for Design? 

Recognizing Design Entering Disneyland

Richard Dawkins, in his book The Blind Watchmaker make the following statement. “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” I believe most scientist carry this same presumption into their study of the natural world as well. 

In the same way we infer a gardener from the Mickey head made of flowers at Disneyland, we also recognize design in the natural world around us.  Dawkins would argue that this design is only a product of evolution that causes us to see patterns in the natural world.  I think it is just as plausible that the patterns and design we see are just that, products of design. 

If we recognize and accept design in something as relatively simple as a cartoon character’s head depicted using flowers, then why should we not accept that other natural items display elements of design as well?  

Should We Only Look For Natural Causes? 

I think this problem goes back to an issue we have discussed before. Scientists have limited their answers to only naturalistic explanations of the physical world.  There is nothing inherent in the scientific enterprise that eliminates supernatural causes.  It is simply the biases of scientists that eliminate supernatural causes from the equation a priori.  Scientist Richard Lewontin had this to say on the subject:

Recognizing Design Entering Disneyland
Richard Lewontin

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Is It Design, Or A Cosmic Blunder?

That’s a pretty stark admission.  As I stated in an earlier post, sometimes evidence isn’t the problem.  Sometimes the problem is people don’t want a certain type of answer to a question.  This is in essence what Lewontin is saying.  “We don’t WANT there to be a supernatural answer to these questions”. This tells us something important. No matter what evidence find, naturalistic explanations are the only ones that certain scientists will consider valid.

In the next few posts I will discuss some features of the natural world that appear to be designed. We’ll look at whether these design features are best explained by natural causes, or if the better explanation is that they were designed by an intelligent being. 

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