FAQ: Must the first CSI come from an unintelligent source? [a subissue of "Who Designed the Designer']
An infrequently asked question, but a interesting variant of the FAQ "Who Designed the Designer," has been asked of us which goes approximately as follows:
1) Firstly, recall that we don't have to account for the origin of the designer to infer design. One point made in the "Who Designed the Designer" FAQ is:
2) Secondly, this objection does make a deeper point which should be addressed. Namely, it attempts to hit at a basic premise in the scientific theory of design itself by showing that it is required that there is a special case where the methods of ID theory don't work (i.e. this objection tries to show that there was a time when CSI came about apart from design).
There are a couple ways of addressing this point. First, events like the origin of the first cause are so far in the past that they are not accessible to science. They can only really discuss them using philosophy and religion. Here, essentially, this question is about the "first cause"--and physicists have discussed that when we are dealing with things very early in the universe, or predating the universe, like the origin of the first cause, the normal laws of physics and reality can break down.
For example, take a hard-core materialist reductionist who believes there was never any intelligent design, and that all matter came from nothing. Such a person must believe that the universe (or the chain of universes from which ours came) just "popped into existence." Such a postulate violates the First Law of Thermodynamics. According to NASA, the First Law of Thermodynamics states that:
Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton)
However, this "First Law" argument itself may be specious, because the First Law of Thermodynamics applies when comparing two points in space-time. Since before the beginning of the universe, it is senseless to talk about "time," it seems possible that the First Law has no meaning outside of our universe. But this point in itself raises another possible mode of addressing the objection about the origin of the first CSI. Essentially, when we are dealing with events outside of our universe, it seems very possible that many of the physical laws we have inferred through scientific investigation no longer apply. In short, we know how things behave inside the universe, but we don't necessarily know how things behave outside of it. Thus, it is possible that the "CSI is always the product of ID" law may not have any applicability outside of our universe.
Because this is a theological / philosophical question, one can get into philosophy and theology in the response. If one takes a Judeo-Christian view that the designer is God, who was existent eternally in the past and that He Himself is uncaused, then the ultimate source of CSI, the first Designer, God, would be uncaused. So the origin of the first CSI would be uncaused, because it comes from God, who has no "origin." Perhaps in that realm, CSI may indeed be able to be present in an eternally existent Being who itself was never created.
So, if the origin of the first CSI came about apart from intelligent design, that doesn't necessarily bear upon the validity of ID theory at this stage of the universe today. Even if we make uniformitarian assumptions, scientific explanations can only apply back so far--once one goes back before the laws of nature today, modern discoveries of science might not necessarily apply anymore.
It should also be noted that under this philosophical / theological explanation for the origin of the first designer, the need to account for CSI apart from a designer does nothing to help the materialist, as it does not imply that natural processes can create CSI.
If the first CSI was uncaused, this would imply a breakdown in the findings of science as we know them today (i.e. that CSI always comes from an intelligent agent). But as noted earlier regarding the First Law of Thermodynamics, most scientific theories get a bit fuzzy and may break down when we talk about origin of the first cause, or "events" which predate the origin of our physical universe. Whether you take a designed world-view, or a materialist world-view, you're going to have some fundamental laws getting fuzzy when you go back to the very beginning. For the materialist, at best this criticism applies equally to all worldviews, not just a designed worldview.