Sunday, November 27, 2005

Is the Designer the Designed?

I'm wasting time following the "Intelligent Design"/Atheism debate. It's time to end it. I became interested in the faux issue only because it dealt directly with copyright issues in Kansas. I soon realized it was simply a childish debate over whether or not a god "out there" exists.

At first one may ask - "ID versus Atheism? I thought the debate was ID versus Evolution!" Well with many references to Darwinism it's understandable that one would come to such a conclusion.

In reality, this is about the age-old and pointless debate over the existence of "Him". Unfortunately, science has been unjustly cast into this battle. That is, evolution has been conflated with traditional atheistic and materialistic beliefs. For whatever reason, the image of the "Atheistic Scientist" has been popularized - regardless of the fact that one can accept universal common descent yet simultaneously deny the extreme materialistic stance. That is, one can accept evolution yet simultaneously question materialism.

William Dembski's tirade on "Darwinism and its atheistic pretensions" offers enough of a clue that the ID "movement" is not genuine, but merely an agenda. In another article, Dembski claims that "Intelligent design is not and never will be a doctrine of creation." yet follows this with the statement that ID "merely concerns itself with features of natural objects that reliably signal the action of an intelligence, whatever that intelligence might be." (emphasis added) Creationism or not, the use of the preposition/article "of an" and pronoun "that" are dead give-aways that Dembski's ID is about injecting the judeo-christian-islamic view of a single separate god into human consciousness. ID subtly sells "the designer" as nature's fuel while giving undue importance to the side-note that ID says nothing concrete about "the designer" itself. Indeed, a clever way to avoid the creationist label, but dogmatic garbage nonetheless.

Richard Dawkins, why atheism? It's not relevant to evolution. The theists are the ones with the burden of proof. We know one can neither prove nor disprove theistic claims (or leprechauns for that matter) through science. Science has it place, but exists through division of the observer and the observed. This division - though useful in gathering technical knowledge - is not reality and must not be worshiped the way many materialists do. After all, quantum theory casts a dubious cloud over the very belief that the observer is separate from the observed. Perhaps both extremes could learn from this branch of (un)knowledge. That is, science - you have a legitimate place but that's not all there is. Thought, no matter how grand, is limited. And theists? Why accept and invent absurd, superstitious beliefs to explain what you do not know?

Bill Dembski - arguably IDs most popular proponent - we hear you have a Ph.D. in philosophy. You claim to have studied other philosophies but write them off as "eastern mysticism" and "occultism" since your "conversion to Christianity". A separate, intelligent, "designer" Bill? Chew on this for a while and get back to me, would you...?

What if intelligence just is. That is, what if the designer is the designed? What does this make us?

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Blogger aNDy said...

This post strummed my pain!! I couldn't resist commenting...

Jacques Monod (French Molecular Biologist) said in his "Studies in the philosophy of biology" that "the postulate of objectivity [is] the systematic or axiomatic denial that scientific knowledge can be obtained on the basis of theories that involve, explicitly or not, a teleological principle".

The battle between "Natural Selection" and "Intelligent Design" became (or maybe always was) a battle between Science and Religion. The reason has nothing to do with the advocay of Truth, but with Power. The greek philosophers who were the Scientists of their times gradually became Theologians when times changed and Christianity became the Religion of the Great Roman Empire in 313 AD. Even before that, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), one of the first Christian theologians was a platonist who called Plato: Moses Atticus. He tried to adapt the God of the Jews to the Greek-Roaman "Ideal". Irenaeus bishop of Lyons (130-200 AD)was teaching the same doctrine. Plotinus (205-270 AD) who had a great influence on the theology of all three monotheistic religions, found Christianity a very objectionable religion at the time. He explained creation as emanations from God (whom he called the ONE who resembles the centre of many concentric circles that are his emanations). Unlike the ancient mesopotamian myth (Enuma Elish) that explained the creation as emanations being perfected, Plotinus argued that each emanation lost some of the Divinity of God and became a lesser entity; hence the future teachings that Man fell from grace and the idea that Man needs to be saved from his sins etc... The idea of Creation "ex nihilo" didn't become a Christian orthodox doctrine until the 9th century.

I can write forever on this but this is not the main issue. What I wanted to say is that Theology was the science of the early Christians. It was meant to continue explaining the world in the light of the new religion. When in about 320 AD, the baker, the merchant, the sailor, etc... started talking religion and asking abstruse questions about the Father and the Son, and the difference between the created order and the uncreated God (as per the account of Gregory of Nyssa), the emperror Constantine (who recently became Christian) decided that an official theology MUST be created, and so ordered all the bishops of his time to agree on a creed. Hence on the 20th of May 325 AD they gathered at Nicaea and came up with a doctrine which will become the basis of the famous Nicean Creed (later written in Constantinople in 381). This was the day when Theology became the official Science. By an Emperial decree, bishops where to rule the beliefs of the masses.

Many many years later, at the age known as the Renaissance, Science in its original impartial and objective form started to re-assume its place in the daily life of the people. When science started proving facts in contradiction of the Church's Pseudo-science, hence showing that the churche is no longer the ultimate source of truth, the power of the church started to diminsih, and a feverish war was waged on those "Heretics, wiches, demons, Satans pupils, etc..."

So the war between Science and Religion is a war for power. It in not dogmatic, nor is it a war for the protection of the "Truth". Science never tried to prove or disprove the existance of God... It is irrelevant to Science. Science is not concerned whether God created the Universe with the intention of placing Man in it or that Man hapened to be an outcome of this creation... Science is trying to put the observed into the frame of a theory... And just as the Church in the middle ages found in these theories a menace to its power, atheists and anti-religion groups found an unaware ally and weapon in their feud against the clergy... Many wrong theories didn't bring down science, and wrong theologies will never bring down religion!!

Natural Selection is a provable theory. Itelligent Design is a a matter of faith. Natural selection can go on being refined with more experiments and observations. Intelligent Design will always remain a matter of beleif. But still, atheists, where in the theory of Natural Selection can anyone find a hint of atheism?? Natural Selection can still be God's will!! I see no reason why God shouldn't choose that Man be created in this process?? I cannot also understand you believers who claim that God is omnipotent and free to do what he pleases, and still bind Him with your narrow minded conceptions inherited from a few thousand years old scriptures that can never be traced back to their writers!!!

Blogger Mike said...

Well! Quite a post and quite a comment.

Too bad you choose to disengage. You have an interesting view and valuable insight.

When the answers become clear and universally accepted, the subject matter moves from philosophy to science or art. The cloudy remainder is philosophy.

I'm working on an essay with my own view of i.d., hopefully for the spring.

So long as the dialog continues, so does the opportunity to learn.

Blogger Dave Harty said...

I'm an atheist who proudly supports Intelligent Design... Am I at war with myself?

Blogger stewie said...

No, you're just taken-in.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter, you say - "science - you have a legitimate place but that's not all there is." What do you mean?

Blogger Gnuosphere said...

Not all.

Anonymous Taryn said...

I have proof that ID-ists think the designer is the Judeo-Christian God. They can pretend otherwise all they like, but we all know they aren't fooling anyone.

Blogger Officer Barbrady said...

"That is, science - you have a legitimate place but that's not all there is. And theists? Why accept and invent absurd, superstitious beliefs to explain what you do not know?"

That just leads us back to nowhere.

"What if the designer is the designed?"

Ah, I love it. So beautiful. Why don't we go ahead and add, can God make something so heavy not even He can lift it? Or any of the numerous other LOGICAL FALLACIES that man has created to try to disprove the existence of God.

Genuine truth is impossible to come by in this genuinly untruthful world we live in.

Blogger Gnuosphere said...

Officer Barbrady says:

"That just leads us back to nowhere."

I'm not going anywhere. Are you?

"Why don't we go ahead and add, can God make something so heavy not even He can lift it?"

I wouldn't. Perhaps a theist or an atheist would ask such a question. That question - though funny - doesn't mean anything to me. I believe it was Homer Simpson (correct me if I'm wrong) that asks something like - "Can God microwave a burrito so hot even He can't eat it?" Like I said, funny - but off-kilter.

"Genuine truth is impossible to come by in this genuinly untruthful world we live in."

Is that the truth? And if it is the truth, then it can't be the truth...according to itself. :)

Seriously though, I don't understand what you mean. Could you elaborate? What is "genuine" truth?

Blogger Matthew said...

I'm not going to pretend to be a genius on this debate or even versed at all on the complexities of it all, I just want to throw an idea out there. I honestly have no belief either way but my upbringing would tend to push me towards the theist explanation, or at least towards a belief that the absence of an intelligence behind all this is an incredibly strange way to look at things. Based on the complexity of it all that is. If you look at our civilization you will realize that we are creators of some very complex things, such as computers. It could be argued that if mankind ever figures out how to make an AI that is aware of itself and it's own existence with the ability to reproduce itself beyond just a perfect copy (i.e, it can change the personality/etc of it's offspring) that you could say we are intelligent designers of life. So I added this top paragraph after writing the second to try and explain where I'm coming from I guess.

I think that this debate between atheism/theism is very interesting. What I find very surprising during all of this is why no one has commented on the idea the ID does not necessarily have to mean God or any other single intelligent designer. We may simply be here as an elaborate experiment done by some other civilization that has been around eons longer than we have. Why does no one suggest the possibilities put forth by some of our great science fiction authors? I think the ideas of darwinism and theism are both thoroughly plausible but probably not the whole story. Couldn't alien abductions not be to research us as a species but maybe to see how far along the experiment is going?

God may not be God in the way we think of Him, but that does not mean that the idea of a creator should be discredited. I personally believe that this debate will either never end, or it will end with the creator/creators popping up one day and saying "hello, this is what I did, and this is how and why". Or it may just end with our destruction via incineration in some cosmic lab 'out there'.

Please, comment on this post as I would like to see what people think of my idea, lol.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You claim it is a "fact that one can accept universal common descent yet simultaneously deny the extreme materialistic stance." But, evolution is, by definition, unguided. Sure, it allows a god or gods to exist, but it absolutely requires that any gods be unrelated to the operation of life.

Edward O. Wilson is one of the most famous evolutionary biologists, and in one interview he stated, "You see, evolutionary biology leaves very little room for a theistic God. I’d like it to be otherwise. Nothing would delight me more than to have real proof of a transcendental plane." He went on the clarify that, to him, what makes life so amazing is that it evolved entirely apart from anything supernatural.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, science is “knowledge attained through study or practice or knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method and concerned with the physical world.” And what is the scientific method? According to Merriam Webster, it's “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

Is evolution reproducible? No. Can it be observed and tested in an experimental, controlled environment? No. I have yet to see anyone prove or disprove evolution based on the scientific method. And that is why evolution is as much a theory as intelligent design. Anyone who argues otherwise is letting their own bias, preferences and underlying world view influence reality. Evolution has no more a place in the scientific community than ID. It is merely a hypothesis of the worst kind: one that cannot be tested, measured, reproduced or observed in an experimental, controlled setting.

Blogger Gnuosphere said...

1st Anonymous, you say:

"[evolution] absolutely requires that any gods be unrelated to the operation of life"

It does not. It simply sees no evidence of a post-origin (i.e. after planck time) interferer. If there was evidence of a "God" interfering, then science would attempt to validate a theory around that evidence. The only thing science requires is evidence. That is what makes it science.

2nd Anonymous:

Sure evolution can be tested and observed. Life itself reproduces opportunities for evolution to be observed and tested. For example, Darwin himself observed and tested evolutionary biology in the case of the Comet Orchid. He made a (seemingly insane) prediction about the existence of a bizarre moth that was proven (sadly, after his death). Or did God talk to Darwin and let him know? I'm doubting that.

On a side note though, it is good to see that while you are wrong about evolution, you see that Intelligent Design fails in the face of the scientific method (i.e. you say after discounting evolution as science: "evolution is as much a theory as intelligent design"). That is, even though you mistakenly write off evolution, at least you don't double your trouble by buying into the idea that "ID" is scientific.


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