If the universe was intelligently designed, how could we tell?

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that everything in the universe was designed by an intelligent creator. How would we know? Could we pick up a rock and say "Ah yes, this object has characteristic X and property Y and therefore must have been intelligently designed"? How could we establish criteria... show more Suppose, for the sake of argument, that everything in the universe was designed by an intelligent creator. How would we know? Could we pick up a rock and say "Ah yes, this object has characteristic X and property Y and therefore must have been intelligently designed"? How could we establish criteria for identifying that something is intelligently designed if absolutely everything in the universe was intelligently designed, and we had no non-intelligently designed things to compare it to?

My point is: The only reason we can look at a car or a can opener or a 4,000-year-old clay pot and say with confidence that it was intelligently designed is that we can compare it with everything in the natural world which was *not* intelligently designed, and see the difference. The very fact that we can identify things which were intelligently designed (man-made things) means that we have to acknowledge that the natural world was not intelligently designed.

Unless you know different...? :-)
Update: eighties: Good idea - that the natural world has 'purpose' - but again, how would we know? We can't say that the rain exists *in order* for plants to grow, for example - all we can say is that if rain didn't exist, then plants as we know them wouldn't exist. We can't push the argument... show more eighties: Good idea - that the natural world has 'purpose' - but again, how would we know? We can't say that the rain exists *in order* for plants to grow, for example - all we can say is that if rain didn't exist, then plants as we know them wouldn't exist. We can't push the argument backwards and say that rain exists so that plants can exist.

Purpose is certainly a sign of intelligence, and if we could prove purpose in the natural world then I'd agree that we could prove intelligent design, but there is no reason to suppose that there *is* any purpose in the natural world.
Update 2: maiohwmai: Same point as above - i.e. if the universe had a purpose (as a timepiece is created by us for the purpose of letting us know the time), then you'd be right... but there is no sign of any such thing. The universe exists, and is complex and intricate and has order and so on, but you cannot argue that... show more maiohwmai: Same point as above - i.e. if the universe had a purpose (as a timepiece is created by us for the purpose of letting us know the time), then you'd be right... but there is no sign of any such thing. The universe exists, and is complex and intricate and has order and so on, but you cannot argue that *therefore* it must have been intelligently created, because there is no reason to suppose that a non-created universe couldn't be exactly as this universe is.
Update 3: secular: You say "humans... look like robots made of flesh and blood". They do indeed, but that would be because humans (made of flesh and blood) design and make robots, wouldn't it? Living organisms are indeed enormously complex and organised, but that in itself can only indicate intelligent... show more secular: You say "humans... look like robots made of flesh and blood". They do indeed, but that would be because humans (made of flesh and blood) design and make robots, wouldn't it?

Living organisms are indeed enormously complex and organised, but that in itself can only indicate intelligent design if we can prove that natural (uninteligent) processes couldn't produce such a thing. In fact, just the opposite is true - Science shows that natural process can and do make complexity and organisation, right up to the level of multicellular living organisms such as ourselves.
Update 4: Robert L: Unfortunately you forgot to back up your answer with any real facts, nor even any rational ideas. Quoting from scripture is like saying "God Did It, and that's that".

Try again.
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