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Intelligent Design supports materialism?
Posted: 22 December 2004 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I don't understand exactly how the Intelligent Design propaganda is supposed to support the case for the existence of the supernatural Abrahamic god.

One, ID'ers have made a major concession to the scientific materialist position by acknowledging that life arises from the physical substrate puzzled out by several generations of molecular biologists, and as far as we know cannot exist in any other way. In other words, in the literature I've seen, they seem to have abandoned or at least downplayed the claim that living organisms, including humans, require the injection of spooks to get them to do their thing.

Two, by drawing the exact analogy between molecular biology on the one hand, and human invention and engineering on the other, ID'ers have at best made the case for a limited kind of intelligence. Molecular biology is complex, but not infinitely so, and if humans can understand how it works, then I don't see where the need for a "transcendent" intelligence to explain its origins comes in. 

Moreover, if you've read biographies of inventors, you'd realize that inventors don't solve their problems with previously unheard of ideas. Instead they notice information already existing in the environment and apply it in novel ways. For example, the inventor Nikola Tesla wrote that he got the idea for alternating current from a passage in Goethe's Faust. If ID'ers are going to insist on their analogy between biological and human inventions, then they will have to admit that their conjectured designer must likewise have been applying ideas that it got from other sources.

In general, ID to me sounds more like a kooky materialist heresy than a defensible apologetic strategy for supernatural beliefs. It's not far removed from the Raelian beliefs about how superintelligent space aliens put humans on this planet.

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Posted: 22 December 2004 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Well well, most provocative!!

I agree… the watchmaker analogy is compelling to a degree… but what I am most concerned about is how to work out the effects of irreducible complexity on macro-evolution. Any piece of a watch can exist without the rest of the watch… but can any piece of a toad exist without the rest of the toad?

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Posted: 31 December 2004 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“El_Nuncio”]Well well, most provocative!!

I agree… the watchmaker analogy is compelling to a degree… but what I am most concerned about is how to work out the effects of irreducible complexity on macro-evolution. Any piece of a watch can exist without the rest of the watch… but can any piece of a toad exist without the rest of the toad?

I think this points to the limitations of any analogy that compares human-designed systems, which are mainly constructed from simpler, self-contained parts for a specific purpose, and biological systems, which seem to have grown “organically,” and whose “design” doesn’t seem to be directed toward a particular purpose. There are biological “parts” (I put quotes around the word, because the separation of a biological system into parts isn’t inherent, but rather done for our own classification) that seem to have different purposes at different points in the history of a biological organism, and you have vestigial biological parts, that don’t seem to have any function.  These kinds of parts just don’t exist in human intelligent design.

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Posted: 31 December 2004 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“dchoweller”] These kinds of parts just don’t exist in human intelligent design.

Actually these parts come and go all the time in human designed systems. If this was not the case then the very first telephone we ever used would be the one we still use. And who needs a camera on a telephone?

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Posted: 31 December 2004 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Slightly off-topic, but relating to creationism and the consequences of the Fall on this creation, I have often puzzled over the knots YE Creationists get themselves into.  Biblical literalists must conclude that the shark, owl, panther, etc. were not designed to be carnivores. The earth either must have undergone a radical re-creation after the “Fall,” or the traits which enable these animals to be such excellent tracker/assassins are present because of their need to kill to survive—a need present from their creation. If God created them as such, the problem of natural disasters as a means to drive humanity to their knees in repentance is hardly applicable because death and destruction were therefore a part of life before the Fall. Of course, if these traits are the result of evolution, the bible believers have an entirely different problem to deal with.

Going way off topic now, but an obvious corollary, nonetheless, the warrant for the Christian defense of evil rests on the cloudy Christian concoction that suffering and sin are a product of the Fall, thus leading to the necessity of special revelation and intervention of the Holy Spirit. Yet until the suffering and the delusions produced by this Fall are removed, the subjects will never have a truly free choice. However, if the deity removes these obstacles, there remains no motive for “rebellion.” This observation seems to render the doctrine of punishment and volition incoherent.

These are but a few more of the difficulties IDers find themselves in.

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Posted: 31 December 2004 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“child”]

Going way off topic now, but an obvious corollary, nonetheless, the warrant for the Christian defense of evil rests on the cloudy Christian concoction that suffering and sin are a product of the Fall, thus leading to the necessity of special revelation and intervention of the Holy Spirit.

The Fall or Original Sin

The religions of Judaism, Christianity and Moslem faiths were all born from the same seed, Judaism.

The basic premise that all men are born into sin is a relatively new concept. In this age of humanity we have allowed ourselves to be duped into believing in a concept that has no basis in physical reality.

Early thinkers could imagine a better world but such a world seemed impossible for them to create and it was, given the state of their stone age agricultural technology. Their vision of a better world became to them the Garden of Eden. They lived in a desert.

Although they could ‘see’ the Garden in their ‘vision’ (imagination) they were ultimately frustrated by the fact that their vision (imagination) was not one belonging to the real physical world.

Through their vision the Garden became a place that was real in their minds eye but it was separate from physical reality. Over time the idea of the Garden, in which man was free from want, became real in their minds eye and logically they had to come up with a reason that man was separated from the Garden.

Their emotions, the emotions all men feel come from the natural order of things.

For example, when a man was hunting and/or gathering fear was a very helpful and life saving emotion. A man that holds fear, is careful in his pursuit of game. A man careful to be aware of his surroundings when gathering fruit has a much better chance of surviving than the man that does not pay attention to the fact that on the rock ledge above his head a lion is crouching.

Rational men have felt guilt ever since the first moment that they realized that the life they were ending, to survive, was the same life that they held within themselves. These life saving emotions work against the individual in a organized or civilized society.

Men begin to distrust their emotions because as time had passed they had changed from being nomads, hunters and gathers to herders and farmers, Cain and Able, with a set of emotions more befitting wild animals.

Although their social status had changed from hunters and gathers to herders and farmers their emotional state had not had a chance to settle down. In other words although they were gaining knowledge of the real physical world their emotions were not in sync with their new found mode of living as farmers and herders.

The only logical and reasonable explanation to them, of their animalistic emotions and for their inability to attain the vision in their mind’s eye, was that they were corrupt. They began to imagine not letting their emotions drive their decisions. Reason was dawning upon them.

This same scenario took place across the face of the Earth within each culture and social group.

The Hebrews lived in the desert. To survive in the desert the social group must act together to survive. Hebrews religious leaders had gained a profound incite into the nature of man in a social group by persevering in the desert for so many years.

Guilt, an emotion only humans are known to experience, worked wonders as a social control mechanism. Hebrews religious leaders solution to the fact that not all their subjects felt guilt was to bestow upon them Original Sin.

The Hebrews religious teachers educated the members of their tribe that men had been ejected from the vision of freedom from want, ejected from Gods presence and that corruption was universal. Hebrew religious educators corrupted natural emotions.

God, a single entity responsible for the creation of all things, was all powerful and all knowing. Things had not been going well for the Hebrews at this time but God would redeem them. The Hebrews would be given a life free from want in the Garden. Fresh fruit, grain and vegetables were good.

Maybe it would be better to conquer a neighboring tribe, Caanan, than to trade sheep for fruit and grain.

The Caannites worshiped a different god. Caananites understood themselves to be children of Mother Earth. The Hebrews conquered Caanan and forced the surviving women and children to worship the Hebrew God.

Hebrews religious teachers were the dispenser’s of natural, religious and social laws in a way which was paralleled later in history during the reign of the Pope’s Roman Catholic church before the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther.

The earliest cities of Mesopotamia and the Levant were directed by priests who established coherent rules for the society. The temple was erected at the center of the town and was the most awe inspiring building.

This pattern of a society with a centralized place of worship can be seen in the all the ancient cities of the Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Historically the role of religion in every civilization was religion’s ability to establish a common moral order. Priests, or kings derived their authority from the gods and they were the ones who devised the moral and social codes that kept increasingly complex societies operating in a civilized manner.

Babylon derived its name from Ba- bi-ilani, or “the gate of the gods,” the place were the gods descended to Earth.

Inca urban society rested on the belief that their rulers were gods, their word law.

Greek and Roman communities shared a powerful sense of “sacred space” in their central core and each devised elaborate codes of social and moral law.

Islam fostered the creation of a coherent civilization by imposing a rule of law that applied to personal and commercial transactions.

After the fall of Rome, the Catholic Church preserved the last vestiges of civilization in Europe by providing the legal system under which European civilization could function.

For the average fundamentalist Christian, Jew or Moslem believer today the only way to believe in the God of the Hebrews is to make a leap of faith, to abandon logic, to abandon reason, and accept what the Hebrew religious teachers had ordained about man kinds removal from the presence of God.

Lawrence Turner

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Posted: 31 December 2004 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I was watching C-Span this afternoon and caught the last half of a debate between William Dembski, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, and an evolutionary scientist whose name I don’t recall.  Michael Shermer, a prominent atheist and publisher of The Skeptic magazine, was also on the panel.

Intelligent Design is simply Creationist nonsense dressed up for the 21st century.  ID doesn’t have to make sense—its sole purpose is to cast doubts on evolution and its kissing cousin secularism. ID doesn’t need to discriminate against science—its perfectly willing to use the language, findings and methods of science to destroy the average American’s belief in the scientific method, scientific findings and scientific theories.

In this, it’s a bit like al queda in that it seeks to take the enemy’s strengths and use them as weapons in their fight. Do real scientists have disagreements over the interpretation of data or the details of a theory? Fine, say the IDers, this proves the theories are wrong.

The IDers are sneaky. They seek to get God back into the classroom any way they can, if not through the front door of school prayer then through the back door of ID.

Several years ago, Carl Sagan was very concerned that scientists weren’t willing to debate Creationists in public. He knew scientists hated to waste their time and didn’t want to legitimize their opponents by agreeing to a debate. But he urged them to reconsider reminding them it was a scientist’s duty to stand up to attacks on science and reason. If scientists shirk this responsibility the number of scientifically illiterate people will grow.

Yesterday Tom Wolfe, author of “The Right Stuff” and the new best seller “I am Charlotte Simmons,” was on C-Span in a three hour interview with Brian Lamb. Tom Wolfe was asked in an audience question for his opinion on evolution.

He is highly educated, so I expected him to say of course he believed in evolution. But I was unpleasantly surprised when he gave a noncommittal response uttering something about scientists disagreeing over the big bang and the impossibility conducting experiments to prove the theory. If this is what a man with a Ph.D. believes, imagine what the average American thinks.

It’s now three hours before New Year’s 2005. Remember this day five years ago, when were all looking forward to a bright future in the new millenium. This was supposed to be a time of peace, prosperity, and the wonders of a new century. But instead of being amazed by all the scientific progress around us, we find ourselves surrounded on one side by camel riding fanatics seeking to destroy civilization and kill us all and surronded on the other side by red state zealots seeking to destroy science and secularism.

But now is not the time to end on such a sour note. So I will wish all of you a Happy New Year.  Let us save our pessimism for January 2nd.

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Posted: 31 December 2004 04:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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If god is good, then he is not god.
If god is god, then he is not good.
You can’t have it both ways.

Something to think about in the wake of the tsunami tragedy in the Indian Ocean. Such horrible events and the unimaginable human suffering they cause seem to me indisputable evidence that there can’t possibly be some powerful being in charge. Either he/she/it does not care much about human suffering, or is not really in charge. Either way, there doesn’t seem much purpose in worshipping such a being. 

One would think, anyway. Yet I’m sure that, just like 911, this event will drive even more people into church to pray for the victims.  Heck of a lot of good that’s gonna do.

Here’s the Guardian link that got me going, for anyone interested ... 

godhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1380094,00.htmlIntelligent

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Posted: 31 December 2004 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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to me there is quite a bit of difference in not accepting the Big Bang theory, and accepting evolution.

Evolution to me is more than proven by cockroaches, viruse, bacteria and DNA.  The fact we are creating pesticide resistant cockroaches and antiboitic resistant bacteria and have to make a new flu vaccine every year to keep up with mutations seems to support evolution just fine.

I am fine with the age of the earth too, although I know it has changed several times I think we are much closer to a more exact estimate, especially since we have moon rocks and mars rocks to look at.

But the Big Bang is still out there as far as a theory.  The evidence is still circumstantial and as I understand it is still only background microwave radiation and red shift.  The fact our math breaks down the closer we get to the Bang itself doesnt help.  Although string theory has maybe a math model that works, string theory can’t even be verified by circumstanstial evidence, yet.  Maybe that is what he meant?

Anyway I could be wrong, I just watch alot of PBS and read Stephen Hawkings = )

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Posted: 01 January 2005 01:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Iisbliss, Tom Wolfe was asked whether he believed in evolution, but he completely avoided that question and instead used it as an opportunity to attack a scientific theory he wasn’t even asked about—the big bang. This seemed strange to me.

I’m not a cosmologist or a scientist, but I do read astronomy books from time to time. The last time I delved into the topic, the vast majority of researchers and theorists accepted the big bang. Of course we don’t have all the answers and there may be disagreements, but the big bang is generally accepted as the most plausible explanation of how our universe got started.

IDers may have a dumb theory, but they’re not stupid people. In fact they’re cleaver and crafty. I’m sure their plan is to openly attack evolution first and once Darwin has been completely discredited, shift their fight to the ultimate ultimate question—the origin of the universe. In the meantime, they will continue to sow seeds of doubt under the radar.

I’m not certain Tom Wolfe is a card carrying IDer. But I wouldn’t be shocked if the man who wrote “Charlotte Simmons” which basically attacks the cultural values of America’s top universities, would support every effort to return to a faith-based society. As a proven best selling author, he can sway a heck of a lot of people.

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Posted: 01 January 2005 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Zenmom, Along with this forum, also I actively participate in one on home decorating. A few days ago, an off topic discussion on the Tsunami tragedy was started.

Surprisingly, it soon evolved from an expression of hearfelt sympathy for the victims into a debate between the faith-based and the secularists. Several decorating enthusiasts who previously spent their online hours critiquing window treatments were now posting comments speculating on the motivations of God.

Some of the faith-based were confused—they couldn’t understand why God would do this. Others said God just created the universe, he isn’t involved in day to day affairs like tsunamis. But there were a couple who were convinced that God is angry and “sent” the tsunami as punishment.

Trying to support the more secular members of this group, I posted my response that earth is geologically active and tsunamis are completely natural events that have occured from time to time for billons of years. I also suggested that a tsunami warning system might help to save lives.

Interestingly, one of the God’s wrathers attacked the idea of a warning system stating it would never work for “scientific reasons.” Perhaps, he disliked the idea of warning those whom God had decided to punish.  I replied that over my lifetime many things once considered impossible, like more accurate weather forecasts, had improved as more data were gathered. I once received a tsunami false alarm while I was in Hawaii, and I added that even an imperfect system was better than none.

On the first day of the new year, it’s time to reflect on the fact that our country has changed.  Five years ago a posting about a tragedy on the home decorating forum would never have turned into a debate about God. But the faith-based have been emboldened and now believe it’s not only their right but their duty to preach to the unconverted.

I think we have a duty to respond to these people whenever they speak, not necessarily by talking about God but by shooting holes in their antiscience theories and their anti-science stance.

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Posted: 01 January 2005 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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HI all:

My name is Barry Cull and I teach psychology in a Liberal Arts department in a community college in Ontario Canada.  I have been a psychotherapist and practicing psychologist now for about 20 years.  My tenure as a full-time professor of psychology is a recent career change and one that puts me in touch with the young people in their quest for knowledge, skills and a career.

I heard about Sam’s book on our national radio (CBC) last week and was intrigued because the ideas seemed to harken back to the Great debate spurred in cicra 1865 by Thomas Henry Huxley.  Also, as a long time adherent to the thoughts of Richard Dawkins it seemed Sam’s ideas, expressed in the CBC interview, seemed to give voice to one side in a necessary deabte.  (By the way, the idea that a world with a whole lot less ideology began to coalesce when I first heard John Lennon’s song “Imagine” in 1971)

I am excited about joining in the debates on this forum.  It is wonderful to be in the company (in a cyber way) with intelligent and thoughful people.  I would like to wish all of you a fulfilling and evolving New Year.

Here are a selected list of ideologies I’s like to see added to the scrap-heap of extinction in 2005.

- North American imposed democracy (hegemony) on the third world
- the Moral Right
- the Moral Left
- coorporate-militarism
- property rights at the expense of communities (including the global village)
- fundamentalism (economic, religious, political) of any kind because complex problems require complex ideas and action
- individual rights conferred on coorporate entities
- imperial hubris
- Godism

May chaos be fortunate to you all in the next year and let’s do what we can to promote peace in our communities and our world.  I, for one, would like to put the hatred and destruction of 2004 behind me.

Barry Cull

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Posted: 01 January 2005 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“child”]Slightly off-topic, but relating to creationism and the consequences of the Fall on this creation, I have often puzzled over the knots YE Creationists get themselves into.  Biblical literalists must conclude that the shark, owl, panther, etc. were not designed to be carnivores. The earth either must have undergone a radical re-creation after the “Fall,” or the traits which enable these animals to be such excellent tracker/assassins are present because of their need to kill to survive—a need present from their creation. If God created them as such, the problem of natural disasters as a means to drive humanity to their knees in repentance is hardly applicable because death and destruction were therefore a part of life before the Fall. Of course, if these traits are the result of evolution, the bible believers have an entirely different problem to deal with.

I wonder how Creationists can refer to lions, leopards, tigers etc. as “big cats.” It makes no sense to say that members of these various species are “related” to each other and to housecats unless they descended from a common ancestor. Otherwise we would have to consider each species as similar only to itself and completely ignore the biological resemblances across species.

As for natural catastrophes, the argument that they result from and act as punishments for human “sin” fails to explain the occurrence of catastrophic events outside of Earth where humans are not affected. For example, when the fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hammered the planet Jupiter a few years ago, was god punishing the inhabitants of Jupiter for their “sins”?

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Posted: 01 January 2005 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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The intelligent design hypothesis has been around for quite some time.  Dawkins deals with it quite neatly several of his books including “River Out of Eden” and the “Blind Watchmaker”.

The basic premise behnid ID is that God must have created the universe because the design of it provides evidence for a “superior” mind.  Dawkins points out, however, that the construct of design is a manmade concept.  We assume that because something appears to work, for example the eye, it must have been designed to do what it does.  The assumption of design, however, does not take into account all of the steps in the evolutionary process.  We don’t see the ninety percent of the “attempts” at evolving an eye that did not work, these extinctions were far from perfect “designs”.

One of the other arguments against ID is, as has been mentioned on this forum already, is the presence of vestiges.  Merlin (2001) points out that Level-I awareness is an awareness of simple events that takes place in the sensory cortex.  All mammals are capable of this type of awareness and within our neural systems it operates as a vestige of our evolutionary past.  Built on top of Level-1 awareness, for the great apes is level-2 awareness and finally with us, Level-3 awareness.  Layers of cortex develop to accommodate greater capacity that ultimately extends our arwareness of longer episodes, extended attention and memory and planned actions.

Along the pathway from Level-1 to Level-3 awareness were evolutionary “experiments” that did not work.  The majority of the intermediate “designs” failed.  The process was entirely random and subject to the pressures of the physics and chemistry.

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Posted: 02 January 2005 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“nancynancy”]I’m sure their plan is to openly attack evolution first and once Darwin has been completely discredited, shift their fight to the ultimate ultimate question—the origin of the universe.

To discredit Darwin would be to deny the reality of nature. Nature works over a long period of time but it still works.

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Posted: 02 January 2005 06:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“nancynancy”]Others said God just created the universe, he isn’t involved in day to day affairs like tsunamis.

What I prefer to call God I prefer to believe set the rules. This is not incomplatible with religion.

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