If a system isn’t designed with intention, it will design itself. Haphazard systems are all around us. Nature is a perfect example of self-design. All sorts of accidents, remnants, and unintentional results are readily observable throughout nature—third molars, appendixes, tonsils, men’s nipples, no eyes behind our heads. One could write a series of books on the foibles of nature.
Manmade systems are no less subject to chance. If procedures aren’t vigilantly examined and analyzed for efficiency they are subject to slow degradation. Gradually minor slip-ups turn into habits that snowball into major incompetencies. “We’ve always done it this way,” or “That’s just how it’s done,” or the worst, “I’ve never thought about it.” Pretty soon we have grossly wasteful, disorganized, corrupted programs. Another series of books.
How is intelligent design distinguished from chance? Fractals give us a clue. Fractals are simple mathematical formulae from which complex systems arise. The more complex, the more amazingly structured a system is, and the more likely it’s formed out of undirected fractal reiteration. Life builds itself out of iteration after iteration of simple patterns to create nearly boundless variation. No wonder it fools us into thinking intelligent design. The real evidence for intelligent design is not in its outward complexity, but its outward simplicity; not in its irreducibility, but in its tractability.
Along with examining the roots of a system, clearly understanding the entire process is crucial. The big picture needs to be held in mind as details are ironed out. Attention to details while forgetting the whole puts the entire system at risk of losing its integrity and falling into chaos. I’m sure you’ve witnessed someone or found yourself getting bogged down in minutia while ignoring the primary goal. Or the opposite, a good idea that never gets off the ground because the ball is dropped on subtle, yet important points. We have many sayings that express these ideas. Can’t see the forest for the trees. Watch your pennies and the dollars take care of themselves, or the converse, penny wise and pound foolish. Despite the truth in these sayings, they are only partial truths. Broad strokes and fine points form two sides of an equation.
Intelligent design doesn’t happen on its own. Deliberation, intention and focus, on the whole and the parts, makes design intelligent.