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Intelligent Design
Posted: 16 March 2007 12:11 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Just read an article by the Editor In Chief of Scientific American, John Rennie, titled "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense." In it, he makes a list of point by point arguments against intelligent design. I include here the link to the entire article and an excerpt showing point number 7. I'm embarrassed for him. Please tell me someone here can come up a more scientific explanation of the origin of life than speculation about "aliens" and "comets." Goodness! I think this is ample proof that atheism has fundamentalists, like any other faith, who make illogical arguments in defense of their beliefs:

7. Evolution cannot explain how life first appeared on earth.

The origin of life remains very much a mystery, but biochemists have learned about how primitive nucleic acids, amino acids and other building blocks of life could have formed and organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining units, laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry. Astrochemical analyses hint that quantities of these compounds might have originated in space and fallen to earth in comets, a scenario that may solve the problem of how those constituents arose under the conditions that prevailed when our planet was young.

Creationists sometimes try to invalidate all of evolution by pointing to science's current inability to explain the origin of life. But even if life on earth turned out to have a nonevolutionary origin (for instance, if aliens introduced the first cells billions of years ago), evolution since then would be robustly confirmed by countless microevolutionary and macroevolutionary studies.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Why this hypothesis makes you feel so uneasy? … keep in mind that earth was formed by materials from space …( back then when the solar system was formed) ..plus earth is a speck of dust as a system in front of the vast systems of drifting materials in the not so far away space.

We should always remember that we live on a speck of dust in a stupendous big room.
Also we should remember that Earth is not a closed system.

In my opinion it would be a paradox to have emergence of the phenomenon of life locally here on earth …. Rather than involving vast systems.(especially if we consider it as a very low probability phenomenon …talking about it’s beginnings. because from there on evolution kicks in )


Also it might be a phenomenon that “needs” vast systems just to occur… something like waiting to rain inside your room (you will wait for ever)...but if you get out you wont wait so long. :wink:

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Posted: 16 March 2007 02:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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What is this about atheism and faith? If this nonsense is to continue, may I begin to lambaste you, Andonstop, for your extreme fundamentalist faith that Islam is not the correct religion? How much faith you must also have that Buddhism and Hinduism is not the correct religion. And the faith just keeps piling up because you certainly don’t believe in every specific Christian doctrine. And how much MORE faith you have that science is not a correct worldview. You are overflowing with faith, Andonstop. You are no doubt an extremist.

I hear often that many Christians who were once atheists simply did not have enough faith to remain atheists. I tell you, this seems such a weak argument, since we must all be overflowing with faith, being that there are so many things which we do not believe in.

Also, Andonstop, you are committing the logical fallacy of two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right, though you even do that incorrectly, which is worse, not better, than committing a proper fallacy. The origins of life is not a scientific theory. Our other theories, such as those of biological and geological evolution have made it quite clear where we expect to find the origins of life. These primordial pools or wherever we are supposed to find life are the most likely and rational places where life might have first arisen. Your credulity to the matter is not an argument against the science, nor is it even close to being an argument for intelligent design, which is neither a theory nor a hypothesis and is where your reasoning falls most prey to fallacies.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Goodness! I think this is ample proof that atheism has fundamentalists, like any other faith, who make illogical arguments in defense of their beliefs:

In the excerpt, I see words like “could have,” “hint” and “may solve,” how is that fundamentalist? 

Where in the bible is anyone not sure about anything?  What you find objectionable in that peice is not the “fundamentalism,” I propose it is the uncertainty.  You just can’t stand not knowing, can you?

You can’t stand it so much that you want to rush in with “god did it,” which explains nothing.

My own personal opinion (with no data yet to back it up), is that when we find life of some kind (and I think we will), on Europa or some other place in the solar system, we will have a clearer idea of how life formed here.

Again, my own personal opinion is that we will find that life originated here, or at least grew to multi-cell complexity, around the volcanic vents under our seas.  That, to me, seems most likely.  The hypothesis expressed by the editor may be true, but it merely moves the problem to a different time and place.

It would be hard to imagine that the universe existed probably 10 billion years, or so, prior to the formation of the earth without life starting somewhere else as well as here.  I’m rambling.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Thank you for your kind and thoughtful responses. I absolutely agree about the incomprehensibility of the vastness and complexity of the universe, to humans. I see Mr. Rennie’s thinking as fundamentalist only in that while he is willing to consider valid the very real possibilities that life on earth began from comets or aliens, he seems ignore (1) that does not define the actual source of life, and (2) there remains a very real possibility of an equally incomprehensible, vast and complex creator/creative-team. Knowing what you don’t know is wisdom, not knowing what you don’t know is fundamentally ignorant. Fundamentalist ignorance to me is defined not so much by what one believes as by what potentialities one chooses to reject.

To me there is no “correct religion”, there is only true religious thinking and false religious thinking. To one who is inherently honest, it is easy to reject false religious thinking, and science is a wonderful tool for exposing that which is false. It takes a higher level of thought to find what is true religious thinking.

I agree to say “god did it” doesn’t explain anything, but understanding god did it provides the potentiality of a sense of purpose and a viability of eternal worth of personality which otherwise does not exist.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]Knowing what you don’t know is wisdom, not knowing what you don’t know is fundamentally ignorant. Fundamentalist ignorance to me is defined not so much by what one believes as by what potentialities one chooses to reject.

And what happens when a growing body of evidence supports one potentiality while another “potentiality” is based in one ancient book of scripture with no bearing at all on reality?

To me there is no “correct religion”, there is only true religious thinking and false religious thinking. To one who is inherently honest, it is easy to reject false religious thinking, and science is a wonderful tool for exposing that which is false. It takes a higher level of thought to find what is true religious thinking.

To one who is inherently honest, science does expose that which is false. It takes a higher level of thought to be able to say I don’t know, but I will wait for science to uncover the facts here as it has continued to do.  Because I don’t know, I will not always concluded “God did it!”

I agree to say “god did it” doesn’t explain anything, but understanding god did it provides the potentiality of a sense of purpose and a viability of eternal worth of personality which otherwise does not exist.

Oh, this eternal b.s. Please. Understanding god-less reality provides the potentiality for a purposeful and worthy life right here right now on earth. The god concept is one of the most purpose-draining concepts ever created by man to disempower man.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]I agree to say “god did it” doesn’t explain anything, but understanding god did it provides the potentiality of a sense of purpose and a viability of eternal worth of personality which otherwise does not exist.

You can believe God exists without bastardizing science. If God is capable of creating the Universe, God is also capable of creating a Universe which can generate life and does not need divine intervention do so. Why do the religious give God the power of creating existence and not give got the power of creating existence with the propensity to create life?

Also, this is not about Mr. Rennie. There are hundreds of different ways to combat intelligent design logically, let alone scientifically. Another one is via the route of Neil Degrasse Tyson at the Beyond Belief conference, who said that any scientist who is will to invoke an intelligent designer is essentially saying that no man is smarter than he, nor will any man be smarter than he, for he has reached the limits of human potential to which he has been able to view the very impossibilities of nature beyond all reasonable doubt.

See, this is what intelligent design “theorists” do. They, just like many scientists before them, including Newton among them, get to the edge of their intellectual abilities and have nothing left of their intellect to solve a particular problem, so they say that a creator MUST have done it. And every single time this has happened in the past, scientists have come along with new experiments and discovered not God but the natural way the Universe works.

Invoking intelligent design is the epitome of arrogance as it suggests no man, woman, or child will ever be as smart or as qualified as the person deeming something intelligently designed, for no man is smarter or wise than he who views the work of God. It is a very enticing conclusion, one that I’m sure many religious people would love to proclaim in truth; however, to paraphrase an old Bible adage, this longing is the work of the devil.

Intelligent design is premature enlightenment.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“HappyHeathen”]And what happens when a growing body of evidence supports one potentiality while another “potentiality” is based in one ancient book of scripture with no bearing at all on reality?

To one who is inherently honest, science does expose that which is false. It takes a higher level of thought to be able to say I don’t know, but I will wait for science to uncover the facts here as it has continued to do.  Because I don’t know, I will not always concluded “God did it!”

Please. Understanding god-less reality provides the potentiality for a purposeful and worthy life right here right now on earth. The god concept is one of the most purpose-draining concepts ever created by man to disempower man.

I agree too many people attribute to god the things they do not understand. To think science can solve all questions is to me equally unrealistic; science is about facts, religion is about “whence, why and whither.” I also agree the false god concepts of historical religions are purpose draining, but a true god concept is purpose enhancing, mind expanding and life enriching. What is purpose draining is limiting oneself to what today’s religions are and have been, instead of opening the mind and heart to what religion really is and could be. It is my understanding that anything contrary to the development of a majestic and well-balanced personality through service to god and humankind is not true religion.

[quote author=“snapshot1”]You can believe God exists without bastardizing science. If God is capable of creating the Universe, God is also capable of creating a Universe which can generate life and does not need divine intervention do so. Why do the religious give God the power of creating existence and not give got the power of creating existence with the propensity to create life?

Excellent question. I think you are closer to true faith than you realize.

There are hundreds of different ways to combat intelligent design logically, let alone scientifically. Another one is via the route of Neil Degrasse Tyson at the Beyond Belief conference, who said that any scientist who is will to invoke an intelligent designer is essentially saying that no man is smarter than he, nor will any man be smarter than he, for he has reached the limits of human potential to which he has been able to view the very impossibilities of nature beyond all reasonable doubt.

A sound argument against the attempted intrusion of religious authority into the domain of science. I don’t think intelligent design is or should be that. To me intelligent design provides the overall understanding of and appreciation for the purposeful goodness of evolutionary creation, as opposed to the random purposelessness of uncreated evolution.

Intelligent design is premature enlightenment.

I like that a lot, but I would preface it with “Many people’s understanding of…”

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Posted: 18 March 2007 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]
Excellent question. I think you are closer to true faith than you realize.

In my mind, this should be the skeptics response. It does not entail that I believe anything on insufficient evidence, only that one logically address the claims made by people who purport to be able to recognize God. The real question is, how do we distinguish between natural processes and divine processes? Our only criteria at the moment appears to be by dividing things into two categories: things we do understand and things we don’t understand.

I submit that until we come up with a better system for categorizing divine intervention, we’ll always be moving God out of the picture. There is one question that it seems God will never get shoved out by attempting to answer, and that is: why is there something rather than nothing? Try coming up with others and I’ll attempt to either show how the question may one day be answered with science or whether I feel it’s impossible to be answered and may therefore reside in the domain of reasons why God might exist.

A sound argument against the attempted intrusion of religious authority into the domain of science. I don’t think intelligent design is or should be that. To me intelligent design provides the overall understanding of and appreciation for the purposeful goodness of evolutionary creation, as opposed to the random purposelessness of uncreated evolution.

Intelligent design doesn’t explain anything. It’s a nice sentiment, but overall all it’s telling you (or you’re telling yourself) is that you shouldn’t want to believe that things just happened, but it doesn’t tell you why you shouldn’t believe that. It only says we can’t explain it, therefore, God must have done it.

Intelligent design doesn’t tell you how or why we’re here, it only seeks to justify your current belief in a creator. You believed that before intelligent design. Why get behind it now under a different name when it’s what you’ve always believed? It’s not science. It’s philosophy. It’s religion.

I agree that it would be nice to have evidence that evolution wasn’t purposeless—even though it does have a purpose: to keep the genes alive—but there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise. We have evidence right now that evolution is purposeless (except for the above stated purpose of the gene) and absolutely no evidence that there is a purpose behind it. The only real evidence for God, as I mentioned earlier, is that
there is something rather than nothing. This says absolutely nothing about biological evolution. In fact, it’s vastly more important than biological evolution. If you believe in God, you probably also believe that these biological entities housing our souls are mere vessels. Science tells us they need not be divinely created, that the Universe can create these bodies en masse given enough time.

Evolution should only be of concern to the 6-day creationist because it explicitly proves the 6-day creationist wrong. Just believe in God, however, should not hurt one’s ability to see the Universe as it is—as God’s creation.

“God’s creation” is not my view, however. I do not see it as anything’s creation because I don’t have enough evidence to suggest that any particular process did it. To me “God” is a placeholder (like dark matter) for something we don’t understand. I won’t place properties on “God” such as “gives purpose.” I don’t know if just because God existed we would then have purpose. I’m not aware of the criteria for having purpose. Even if God told us we had a purpose, what gave God it’s purpose? Questioning got us to God, how much further will questioning reality get us?

I like that a lot, but I would preface it with “Many people’s understanding of…”

That’s even better. Many people’s understanding of intelligent design is what I would call “premature enlightenment.” They think that if they can understand the intelligent design argument, they are somehow closer to seeing God. Unfortunately for believers, intelligent design is so flawed that I feel it hurts their chances of seeing God should one actually exist. It’s parading itself as science when it is clearly not. It calls itself a theory when it is clearly not. It’s not even capable of being a scientific hypothesis until someone comes along and finds out what we need to be looking for that will denote between natural processes and divine intervention.


You can believe in God and be on firmer ground scientifically if you simply reject this notion of intelligent design. There are far firmer grounds you could be standing on. I’ll name two for now and leave the rest to you.

One is that there is something rather than nothing. This will plague your consciousness trying to reconcile how there can’t be a God while there is something rather than nothing. The atheists only bastion of hope with this question is that the God theory has never needed to be brought up in the first place, why bring it up now. It’s likely that there’s a very simply explanation for it all, and the answer of “God did it” has just about as likely a shot at being right as any other hypothesis.

The second is that God is capable of anything. God can—though many do not give God enough credit—create a Universe which can create life spontaneously through natural processes. God can do anything. Why do we have to limit God? We’re already positing that a deity exists that can create existence. Why do we have to scientifically limit this being by saying it’s incapable of creating a Universe in which life can spontaneously arise? You’re on firmer ground scientifically by just saying that God can do whatever God wants, and if God wanted to create this Universe without any further divine intervention, he could have.

Intelligent design is not science. It uses scientific sounding words while offering no falsifiable hypothesis. In science, a hypothesis must be falsifiable, meaning it should have qualified itself so that our techniques available to us now will be able to determine whether whether the statement is true or false. If it can’t be falsified, it’s philosophy.

Intelligent design says that we can see design in the Universe while at the same time saying it’s a mystery and needs to be studied further. I agree it needs to be studied. I would love a God hypothesis, especially a falsifiable one. Such hypotheses would lead to a more and more scientific definition of God when each preceding hypothesis fails. Unfortunately, intelligent design theorists have attempted to state that intelligent design cannot be falsified because we need to study the Universe further…

No one is against studying the Universe further. What people are against is labeling something as scientific when it is clearly not. Intelligent design is not a theory that is altered as new information is gathered by trying to falsify the hypothesis. It’s a proposal that must change because science keeps discovering new ways of proving it wrong. Intelligent design does nothing to promote science. It actually avoids science in all possible respects. It goes where science hasn’t, and once it gets there it just sits there, claiming to prove that the Universe was created by God (because we haven’t yet explained how it isn’t). We can’t test it, and we only change it when a completely separate theory proves it to be scientifically inaccurate.

Intelligent design is a buzz word that helps people feel better about believing in God. But it also hurts itself because it purports to be science. If you need an even more in depth explanation of how unscientific intelligent design is, I will attempt to go into detail about it.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]To think science can solve all questions is to me equally unrealistic; science is about facts, religion is about “whence, why and whither.”

Aside from the fact that people suck up antidotes to the questions of “whence, why, and whither” in much the same way that they suck up “weed, whites, and wine”, you might have a point.

It just depends on how willin’ you are to do without having all those questions settled now, once and for all, or whether you can live without having figured it all out.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“andonstop”]To think science can solve all questions is to me equally unrealistic; science is about facts, religion is about “whence, why and whither.”

Aside from the fact that people suck up antidotes to the questions of “whence, why, and whither” in much the same way that they suck up “weed, whites, and wine”, you might have a point.

It just depends on how willin’ you are to do without having all those questions settled now, once and for all, or whether you can live without having figured it all out.

Personally, living with uncertaintly keeps my life exciting and my mind open.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“HappyHeathen”]Personally, living with uncertaintly keeps my life exciting and my mind open.

Yes, that’s fine, HH, but have you accepted Lowell George as your personal savior? As an incentive, I will say that he works on a sliding scale. :D

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Posted: 18 March 2007 08:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“HappyHeathen”][quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“andonstop”]To think science can solve all questions is to me equally unrealistic; science is about facts, religion is about “whence, why and whither.”

Aside from the fact that people suck up antidotes to the questions of “whence, why, and whither” in much the same way that they suck up “weed, whites, and wine”, you might have a point.

It just depends on how willin’ you are to do without having all those questions settled now, once and for all, or whether you can live without having figured it all out.

Personally, living with uncertaintly keeps my life exciting and my mind open.

Personally, I think Ann Druyan has said it best so far, at the Beyond Belief 2006 conference.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-MVqtZvf8U

You’ve seen it, but if you want to see it again, there it is.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 07:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“snapshot1”]


See, this is what intelligent design “theorists” do. They, just like many scientists before them, including Newton among them, get to the edge of their intellectual abilities and have nothing left of their intellect to solve a particular problem, so they say that a creator MUST have done it. And every single time this has happened in the past, scientists have come along with new experiments and discovered not God but the natural way the Universe works.

Invoking intelligent design is the epitome of arrogance as it suggests no man, woman, or child will ever be as smart or as qualified as the person deeming something intelligently designed, for no man is smarter or wise than he who views the work of God. It is a very enticing conclusion, one that I’m sure many religious people would love to proclaim in truth; however, to paraphrase an old Bible adage, this longing is the work of the devil.

Intelligent design is premature enlightenment.

Indeed - what the advocates of Intelligent Design demonstrate above all is that they cannot imagine how evolutionary mechanisms might have produced a certain species, organ, structure. Such statements, obviously, are personal – and they say more about the limitations of those who make them than they do about the limitations of Darwinian mechanisms. This type of…thinking…permeates most anti-atheist, anti-science views of the Universe.

By the way - that was an unusually excellent appraisal of ID, Snapshot.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]To think science can solve all questions is to me equally unrealistic; science is about facts, religion is about “whence, why and whither.”

I disagree. I think many scientists see their work exactly as discovering the whys, the whences and whithers. To relegate cosmologists, biologists and the like to dull technicians grubbing after details whilst the priests and theologians discover ‘meaning’ reveals not only a fond over-estimation of the abilities of priests and theologians but also deep unfamiliarity with modern science.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“Occam’s Razor”][quote author=“snapshot1”]


See, this is what intelligent design “theorists” do. They, just like many scientists before them, including Newton among them, get to the edge of their intellectual abilities and have nothing left of their intellect to solve a particular problem, so they say that a creator MUST have done it. And every single time this has happened in the past, scientists have come along with new experiments and discovered not God but the natural way the Universe works.

Invoking intelligent design is the epitome of arrogance as it suggests no man, woman, or child will ever be as smart or as qualified as the person deeming something intelligently designed, for no man is smarter or wise than he who views the work of God. It is a very enticing conclusion, one that I’m sure many religious people would love to proclaim in truth; however, to paraphrase an old Bible adage, this longing is the work of the devil.

Intelligent design is premature enlightenment.

Indeed - what the advocates of Intelligent Design demonstrate above all is that they cannot imagine how evolutionary mechanisms might have produced a certain species, organ, structure. Such statements, obviously, are personal – and they say more about the limitations of those who make them than they do about the limitations of Darwinian mechanisms. This type of…thinking…permeates most anti-atheist, anti-science views of the Universe.

By the way - that was an unusually excellent appraisal of ID, Snapshot.

I appreciate your comment very much. Thanks.

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