More Face Lessons

A high resolution photo of a Face on Mars would be good evidence for design. This would be especially true if we had several photos from different angles, each one convincingly showing a face. But why would it be evidence for design? What is the thinking process that would lead us to this inference?


To infer design from a Face on Mars, two criteria would be inherently employed. The first criterion is that of familiarity. The Face appears humanoid. Of course, familiarity is not enough by itself. After all, the mountains on Mars are also familiar, but nothing about this leads us to a design inference. The Face on Mars is familiar in two specific ways. First, looks like a face. This familiarity allows us to recognize it, without which, we have no recognition, and without recognition we cannot hope to detect design. But the Face on Mars is also familiar in a deeper sense: as a carved face in the same category as the faces on Mount Rushmore. This deeper sense of familiarity allows us to employ reasoning by analogy. In other words, we would argue that since all known carved faces originate from design, this new carved face likewise originated from design. Such analogous reasoning is at the heart of all attempts to detect design. This leads us to the second criterion of design inference— discontinuity. Not only does a carved face fit nicely into the category of faces that have been designed, it is “out-of-place” if we consider only the various rocky structures that have not been designed.

It’s the coupling of analogy and discontinuity that makes the inference persuasive.

And, as I have explained earlier, this basic logic is at the heart of SETI. After all, if the Mars Orbiter Camera did uncover an actual Face, this would be the first solid evidence for the existence of ETI.

Note, that what is not needed is any independent evidence of the Face carvers. We don’t need to know who they are, when the Face was made, how they made the face, or even why they made the face. Such information would surely be nice to have as we tried to better understand the specifics behind the Face’s origin. But such information is not a necessary prerequisite for making the original design inference.

If you disagree, this would mean that you would dismiss as high resolution photo of the Face as evidence for design.

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