Thursday, December 07, 2006

Can ID one day threaten Christianity?

I believe that if Intelligent Design one day becomes a workable science, it has the potential of causing incredible harm to Christianity.

Think of the following scenario. I know it is somewhat far-fetched, but please bear with me:

It is the year 2020. Intelligent Design advocates have finally managed – after many years of work – to create a workable, scientific theory of Intelligent Design. Instead of trying to weasel Intelligent Design into schools, they have spent years collecting data, creating hypotheses, and testing predictions through various experiments. They have finally solved the initial problems with their theory and have managed to convince a large portion of the scientific community that there is some merit to the idea that the universe was created by a designer.

Will this be good for Christianity? Well, at first it might seem to be. Ardent critics of Intelligent Design, like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, will appear on television talk shows, admitting that they were wrong. Pastors and evangelists will ecstatically preach from the pulpit that science has finally proven that God exists. Millions of Christians around the world will experience a renewal of faith; churches will be filled to overflowing with new converts. Apologists, the likes of William Lane Craig and Josh McDowell, will wink at the television cameras, and say something along the lines of: “I told you so.” All will be honky-dory in Christendom.

Then, something happens. Electrified by the newfound euphoria of proving the world wrong, Intelligent Design theorists work double-time to extend their theory. They have provided sufficient scientific evidence that a designer exists, but they have also found a way to obtain information on who the designer actually is. They spend weeks collating data that will provide them with an answer. After much analysis and modelling, the Intelligent Design theorists reach a conclusion. But when they see the answer, a slow, icy horror creeps through each one of them. . .

The intelligent designer of the cosmos is not the Christian God!

Think about this story: if Intelligent Design is simply debunked by the scientific community – if it follows Young Earth Creationism into the wastepaper basket of “outrageous ideas that didn’t make it into science” – Christianity will survive intact. After all, the simple debunking of Intelligent Design will not disprove the existence of the Christian God. However, if Intelligent Design one day reaches the level of being considered science, will it not hold the potential of destroying Christian belief if it reaches unexpected conclusions?

These are thoughts that I had while reading the discussion of Intelligent Design between Lui and R10B in one of my earlier posts.

15 comments:

Matt said...

oh I think you have overly rosy notions of what intelligent design is. You're giving it too much credit. Every advocate of "intelligent design" is a fundamentalist christian in disguise. There is no such thing as non-christian intelligent design. They'll keep quiet about who the designer is, but the implications are obvious.

Of course, your hypothetical scenario will NEVER happen. There is no debate within the scientific community over the viability of the theory of evolution by natural selection. None. It's not a dispute at all. Science will never accept "intelligent design"

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

Very imaginative post. You forgot one minor detail: according to many in the scientific community, like Richard Dawkins, say that science has already clearly indicated to us that the Christian God, and any other God or gods, do not exist. Christianity has weathered the all out attack of modernism, materialism, post-modernism, skepticism, scientisticism, etc. I think there is good reason to think that it will certainly weather any hypothetical attack from ID.

Matt,

Try these on for size:
http://www.researchintelligentdesign.org/wiki/Intelligent_design_among_atheists_and_agnostics

Lui said...

"Francis Crick (atheist) the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, once espoused a view of evolution called directed panspermia, which proposes that life on earth was seeded by an extra-terrestrial intelligence."

From wikipedia: "During the 1960s Crick became concerned with the origins of the genetic code. In 1966 Crick took the place of Leslie Orgel at a meeting where Orgel was to talk about the origin of life. Crick speculated about possible stages by which an initially simple code with a few amino acid types might have evolved into the more complex code used by existing organisms.[39] At that time, everyone thought of proteins as the only kind of enzymes and ribozymes had not yet been found. Many molecular biologists were puzzled by the problem of the origin of a protein replicating system as complex as what exists in organisms currently living on Earth. In the early 1970s Crick and Orgel further speculated about the possibility that the production of living systems from molecules may have been a very rare event in the universe, but once it had developed it could be spread by intelligent life forms using space travel technology, a process they called “Directed Panspermia”.[40] In a retrospective article,[41] Crick and Orgel noted that they had been overly pessimistic about the chances of life evolving on Earth when they had assumed that some kind of self-replicating protein system was the molecular origin of life. Now it is easier to imagine an RNA world and the origin of life in the form of some self-replicating polymer besides protein....

...Steyn's critique of Crick ignored the fact that Crick never held a belief in panspermia. Crick explored the hypothesis that it might be possible for life forms to be moved from one planet to another. What "drove" Crick towards speculation about directed panspermia was the difficulty of imagining how a complex system like a cell could arise under pre-biotic conditions from non-living chemical components. After ribozymes were discovered, Crick became much less interested in panspermia because it was then much easier to imagine the pre-biotic origins of life as being made possible by some set of simple self-replicating polymers."

"Antony Flew (former atheist) gave up atheism because of arguments put forward by intelligent design proponents."

From wikipedia: "In an another letter to Carrier of 29 December 2004 Flew went on to retract his statement "a deity or a 'super-intelligence' [is] the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature." "I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction." wrote Flew. He blames his error on being "misled" by Richard Dawkins, claiming Dawkins "has never been reported as referring to any promising work on the production of a theory of the development of living matter". (Dawkins has - in "Evolutionary Chemistry: Life in a Test Tube," published in the 21 May 1992 issue of Nature, with Laurence Hurst.) The work of physicist Gerald Schroeder had been influential in Flew's new belief, but Flew admitted to Carrier that he had not read any of the scientific critiques of Schroeder that Carrier referred him to."

Flew is now a deist.


"Raƫlism, also known as the "Raelien Movement," promote what they call "Intelligent Design for Atheists."

The Raelians are stark-raving mad. I don't care about them, and neither do you.

I myself used to be something of an IDist when it came to humankind: I thought that it was somehow self-evident that extraterrestrials had genetically engineered primates to breed us (though I still very much believed in evolution for other organisms). Then I grew up.

Intelligent Design is still predominantly a Christian fundamentalist game. Significantly, many Christian scientists are against ID and see it as sacrilegious because it implies that God had to intervene in his own creation to get the job done. I suspect that many in the ID movement know this but are afraid that the game is up for theism, so in order to “guarantee” that God is still a viable hypothesis, they have to find evidence for him in biology.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

I think you might have too much faith in what science can actually do. Science depends upon several philosophical assumptions that science itself cannot prove/disprove. It is interesting to note that the mathematical equations we discover that describe the activity of entities in our universe do not actually explain what these entities are or why they behave the way the equations describe. And science in principle cannot answer these questions. Philosophy undergirds science, and that is just the way reality is. Questions about the fundamental nature of reality (e.g., questions about God) will always be on the philosophical level - informed by science yes, but not consisting of science alone.

Hi Lui,

So why is Flew still a theist/deist? If you read the correspondence with Carrier again, I don't see Flew actually retract his newfound "conversion" to deism, does he? He just says that he wasn't aware of some alternative "presentable" theories, and feels like a "fool" because he said there were none. He doesn't say he agrees with these other theories, as far as I know. I would be interested to know if he has. One of my former professors is a friend of Flew, so perhaps I will ask him.

And has anyone presented any actual experiment that demonstrates life from non-life, or just tales about what might have happened? If you could provide me with any links on this, I would appreciate it.

Mike said...

Hi again, the previous post is from me, Mike, I just posted it as anonymous accidentally. I have been busy, but I have decided to get back with you all again for a time.

Lui, (and Kevin and whoever else), after reading the discussion you and r10B had, you concluded with some musings about the origin of the Big Bang, and with Dawkins you believe that the "God hypothesis" would complicate the solution rather than provide explanatory power, because apparently God exhibits a greater complexity than the universe itself. I believe this line of thinking is mistaken because of the lack of reflection on what a mental cause is. A mental cause is not complex in the way that physical entities are complex. A mental cause is a single substance, a mind (or three minds if you are trinitarian, but that's a whole other can of worms). God does not have a body, no DNA, no complex arrangements of particles. He just has thoughts. Mind is the originator of complexity (okay, actually "design"), not complexity itself.

Now of course you still have the question, "Where did God come from?" Well, taking a step back, the real question becomes, "Is it more plausible to have mind as the ultimate, necessary reality at the foundation of everything, or non-mind, i.e., the physical universe?" Is it really more plausible to view physical stuff at the foundation of reality, or mental "stuff"? This is where the deep mysterious core of our intuitions must do some real wrestling.

Plus, if we really are able to find instances of design in the universe, it is not reasonable to set aside the explanation that there is a designer just because we don't have an explanation of the designer. Dawkins' argument here is really weak, because it would actually allow us to throw away all aternative hypotheses because we don't have explanations for their existence either. It just boils down to what makes the most sense to us, mind or matter at the foundation of reality. And neither side will be able to provide a knockdown proof of their conclusion, just a list of evidences that they believe support their inference to what they believe is the best explanation.

Lui said...

"If you read the correspondence with Carrier again, I don't see Flew actually retract his newfound "conversion" to deism, does he?"

No, he doesn't, nor did I imply that he did. He retracted his notion that there were no presentable theories for the naturalistic origin of life, and that he felt foolish for not having known that. I don't know why he's a deist, but I think I read somewhere that it's because of philosophical reasons, not Intelligent Design reasons.

"And has anyone presented any actual experiment that demonstrates life from non-life, or just tales about what might have happened? If you could provide me with any links on this, I would appreciate it."

So "therefore" God "must have" designed us. That's not how you do science. In fact, it's exactly how creation "scientists" do science. Real science is difficult and often frustrating. The big questions often take ages to answer, with long periods of little progress until someone comes up with a revolutionary theory. What you're doing is essentially grasping at straws. Since there's no other evidence for God, it seems that people are all too eager to seize upon any gap in our knowledge and proclaim that to be compelling "evidence" for God's existence.

"A mental cause is a single substance, a mind (or three minds if you are trinitarian, but that's a whole other can of worms). God does not have a body, no DNA, no complex arrangements of particles. He just has thoughts. Mind is the originator of complexity (okay, actually "design"), not complexity itself."

Don't you see that this allows you to get away with so much? It's not an explanation for anything, it's a mere premise. There is no evidence that the mind is anything other than the manifestation of material interactions in the brain. Mind is something that arrives LATE in the universe, not early. Furthermore, no mechanism by which non-material mind could manifest matter is ever provided. That is supposed to be the end of the matter, with no account of God himself forthcoming, or what processes he used to affect change or "design". God is somehow meant to be off limits to all scrutiny, as an eternally mysterious, magical given. But there's no evidence that there is anything "outside" the physical universe. “Thoughts” don’t just float around in a void. They are qualitatively different to simple particles, for example. They require – as a prerequisite – some substrate by which to be manifested in the first place. If God just has thoughts, then that’s all he is. But I put it to you that this is baseless for those very reasons.

An entity that can do the things that God is supposedly capable of doing has GOT TO BE utterly, overwhelmingly, gloriously complex. God is the very antithesis of simplicity. In other words, devastatingly improbable, whatever he's "made of", UNLESS he is himself the product of some cumulative process.

"He just has thoughts. Mind is the originator of complexity (okay, actually "design"), not complexity itself."

And where does this "mind" reside? In what medium does it actually carry out its processes? How does it introspect? Where do its needs come from? In a word, what is it? Mind is NOT simplicity or anything like it. Mind is an emergent property that arises out of the interaction of billions of neurons, and this is the only substrate known that can actually bring it about (with the possible exception of silicon chips, but we shall have to wait and see). It's not something "out there" or "independent" of matter. To say that this primeval mind is somehow working according to very different rules, or no rules at all, is merely a premise that needs to be validated like any other. It should emphatically NOT be exempt from scrutiny.

"This is where the deep mysterious core of our intuitions must do some real wrestling."

Our intuitions aren't a given, they are something to be understood in their own right. No one at all denies that consciousness is a deep mystery in biology. But the evidence that it is manifested by matter is overwhelming; a century of psychology and neuroscience has pretty conclusively shown that. Such sophisticated complexes can only be the products of natural selection.

"Plus, if we really are able to find instances of design in the universe, it is not reasonable to set aside the explanation that there is a designer just because we don't have an explanation of the designer."

Certainly, but that's a big IF, because no such instances have been found so far, and I would bet they will never be. Dawkins himself conceded the possibility (albeit a very small one) of God in his book, if positive evidence in his favour were forthcoming. So far, ID and creation science have provided nothing substantial, only arguments from incredulity and gaps in evolutionary theory. Real scientists are busy closing those gaps. In actuality, the need for a designer disappeared with the Origin of Species. Many are trying to reverse that revolution because they find the notion that we are descended from "lower" life forms demeaning. (personally, I fin dit more demeaning that we were created by a "higher power" so that we could worship it, but that's another story) This is what it really boils down to, not because of scientific objections to evolution. But whether something is "demeaning" or not doesn't stop it being true. In fact, to say that it's not true is to go against a mountain of evidence.

Anonymous said...

Matt said: "Every advocate of "intelligent design" is a fundamentalist christian in disguise. There is no such thing as non-christian intelligent design."

There were non=Christians in the past who are open to ID, there are non-Christians now considering ID, and there will be many non-Christians in the future who will be open to ID.

Consider:
"Why Muslims Should Support Intelligent Design" By Mustafa Akyol
http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2004/09/Article02.shtml
http://www.mustafaakyol.org
English: http://www.thewhitepath.com

http://www.harunyahya.com
http://www.freewebtown.com/bhaktivedanta108

Matt, I would ask that you (and others similarly motivated) to continue to misrepresent, spin, and lie about ID, that way when someone goes and looks for the answers themselves, they will see how wrong you really are.

Ciao

Mike said...

Hi Lui,

About the Flew “conversion”, you said: “I don't know why he's a deist, but I think I read somewhere that it's because of philosophical reasons, not Intelligent Design reasons.” Well, I’d like to see where you read that, and I will do some detective work on my end.

About my question regarding experiments for life from non-life, you said, “So "therefore" God "must have" designed us. That's not how you do science. In fact, it's exactly how creation "scientists" do science. Real science is difficult and often frustrating.” I don’t think you appreciate how controversy sparks scientific work. This whole debate has actually fueled a slough of scientific investigation on both sides. Tell me, how much work was being done on bacterial flagellum before Behe? Honestly, this “Saying ‘God did it’ stifles all science” argument is empirically shown to be false by all the scientific experimentation that is being done on both sides. Before you assert it again you might want to see if it is actually true – are Christian scientists just sitting around doing nothing singing “God did it! God did it! … Koombaya my Lord, koombaya…” Plus, it is an inescapable fact that the vast majority of the founding fathers of science were theists, driven by a desire to think God’s thoughts after him.

About the nature of mental causes, you wrote, “Don't you see that this allows you to get away with so much? It's not an explanation for anything, it's a mere premise. There is no evidence that the mind is anything other than the manifestation of material interactions in the brain…” and then you went on to say how minds must exist in a medium, physical medium I assume. I think you would enjoy a philosophy of mind course, because there you might discover that, conceptually, mind does not need a physical medium to exist. Mind can be (and in my opinion, essentially is) spiritual in nature. Can you conceive of a being like a ghost, or an angel, or a demon? A being that does not have a physical body? Most people can, every 8 year old that I have asked can, tons of our movie producers and audiences can, and what this thought experiment shows is that immaterial minds are not metaphysically impossible, or else we would not be able to conceive of them. For example, we cannot conceive of a square circle, or that 1+1=3, which indicates to us that these states of affairs are impossible. Have you ever imagined yourself outside of your body? Perhaps looking down at yourself? That is an odd state isn’t it, to be able to see without eyes and to think without a brain, because you are looking down at your body where these physical organs are? And there are actually numerous accounts of people claiming to have actually experienced this on the operating table, often when there is no brain activity at all. My friend’s grandfather can recount to you the exact conversation that two doctors had regarding whether to attempt to revive him or not on the operating table, and there was no brain activity at all.

Continuing on, you said: “No one at all denies that consciousness is a deep mystery in biology. But the evidence that it is manifested by matter is overwhelming; a century of psychology and neuroscience has pretty conclusively shown that.” Well, not exactly, but materialists would like to think that.

What has been observed by scientists is a bunch of correlations between mental states and brain chemistry. A thought occurs, and a part of the brain lights up. This is what is known as correlation, not causation. Causation is a philosophical assumption/hypothesis given the data. But the empirical data is entirely compatible with the mind also being a cause of the physical phenomena, which we actually observe whenever we get stressed for example (stress has many effects on the brain and body), or elated, or sad, etc. The brain could be like a radio receiver, not necessarily a transmitter, of consciousness. The brain would act as an interface with the physical, which means that the mind would be subject to whatever limits are placed on it by the brain (i.e., the brain can affect the mind and vice versa).

The real issue is that the mind-body problem is an “in principle” problem. Simply put, mind looks nothing like matter. Mental states have properties that physical matter does not have and cannot have in principle. Here’s a question to ponder: How can your thought about a cat for example be identical to some neurons firing in your brain? When we reflect on the nature of physical particles and the nature of mental states they look nothing alike. Yes, consciousness is a real problem for naturalists, and believe it or not the best “solutions” available today from naturalists are: 1) Consciousness does not exist. It’s an illusion (Jaegwon Kim), 2) There is an unknowable mysterious mechanism in our brain that produces consciousness (Colin McGinn), and 3) Let’s just say that the brain produces consciousness and be done with it. Nothing more can be said (John Searle). Now I don’t know about you, but the belief that there is actually an immaterial soul is not that far-fetched compared to these other theories now is it? Especially when most people in the world have no problem believing it? If you don't believe me about this "in principle" problem, try reading a fellow naturalist, Colin Mcginn, "The Mysterious Flame."

You also wrote: “Dawkins himself conceded the possibility (albeit a very small one) of God in his book, if positive evidence in his favour were forthcoming. So far, ID and creation science have provided nothing substantial, only arguments from incredulity and gaps in evolutionary theory.”

Thankfully, ID and creation science do not have the sole responsibility of providing evidence for the existence of God. How about cosmological arguments, moral arguments, teleological arguments, experiential arguments, etc… I hope you read more than Dawkins when it comes to evidence for God’s existence. I read his chapter on the arguments for God’s existence in “The God Delusion”, and honestly it would be laughable if it were not about such a serious topic. He is really out of his league here, and it is actually irresponsible for someone with such a platform on such a serious topic to be that uninformed about philosophy of religion over the last 40 years. Here is a good critique of “The God Delusion” which addresses what I am talking about: http://www.arn.org/docs/williams/pw_goddelusionreview.htm

I close with a question: Do you think that it is more plausible that mind or matter is the foundation of ultimate reality? What do you think is “at the bottom” of ultimate reality? I am honestly curious to know what you think about this question.

Lui said...

"This whole debate has actually fueled a slough of scientific investigation on both sides. Tell me, how much work was being done on bacterial flagellum before Behe?"

Quite a lot. In fact, during the court trial, Behe was embarrassed to find out that there had been a few dozen scientific journal papers on the evolution of the flagella.

No, ID isn't science, it's incredulity dressed up as science. It basically amounts to saying, "I can't imagine how such and such could have evolved, so we'll just say God did it." It's religion. Quite frankly, I find the whole charade quite disgusting. People are being turned away from looking into and appreciating the real controversies.

"Before you assert it again you might want to see if it is actually true – are Christian scientists just sitting around doing nothing singing “God did it! God did it! … Koombaya my Lord, koombaya…”"

Most Christian scientists aren't IDists. They don't even think to invoke God when studying the mechanism for something. Many Christian scientists view ID/creationism as a nuisance and a cheapening of God, and I think that if I were a Christian, I would concur. ID doesn’t elevate the creator, it’s belittling of him. IDists love to talk about God doing this and God doing that. In other words, of God doing a lot of work. Evolution is far more parsimonious and elegant.

"Plus, it is an inescapable fact that the vast majority of the founding fathers of science were theists, driven by a desire to think God’s thoughts after him."

Absolutely irrelevant; not only do I not try to escape that fact, I also have no interest in doing so. It has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the validity of the concept of God itself, especially when you consider that during that time, creationism was deemed the only really viable scientific hypothesis by most people anyway, largely because a workable, plausible alternative simply couldn't be imagined. IDists love to trot this one out as though science owes it to religion to come around and reaffirm religious dogma, simply because the early scientists and founders of scientific fields were theists. Yes, they were theists, but the game’s moved on since then. Darwin himself was a creationist before his theory dawned on him. If you want to play the numbers game, then consider that in a survey of scientists at the National Academy of Science, 72.2 percent were outright atheists, and 7 percent were theists who believed in a personal God. Perhaps that doesn’t count, but if not, then neither should the religiosity of those earlier pioneers. As for what drove them, that’s even more irrelevant. There’s a whole range of motivations for doing anything. The motivation itself isn’t the relevant factor; it’s the information and methodologies you come up with that counts.

"Mind can be (and in my opinion, essentially is) spiritual in nature. "

That doesn't actually mean anything. A spirit basically amounts to a vacuum having a mental state.

"Can you conceive of a being like a ghost, or an angel, or a demon? A being that does not have a physical body? Most people can, every 8 year old that I have asked can, tons of our movie producers and audiences can, and what this thought experiment shows is that immaterial minds are not metaphysically impossible, or else we would not be able to conceive of them."

I can also conceive of fairies in the garden and other fictitious entities, but that doesn't make them any closer to being real. This has to be one of the weakest arguments I've ever seen. I think you're over-mystified by mind. I am, too, but in a different way. I don't see it as being "the point". The mind is something that arises from something else, and that's all the evidence entitles us to believe.

"Thankfully, ID and creation science do not have the sole responsibility of providing evidence for the existence of God. "

None have been forthcoming. I'm not holding my breath either. By the way, there's no such thing as creation science. The term is an oxymoron. This doesn't necessarily have to be so by definition; it's just the case that creationism has yielded no good arguments of its own and has contributed to not a single practical application.

"I hope you read more than Dawkins when it comes to evidence for God’s existence."

Dawkins goes through all these so-called arguments and disposes of them one by one throughout the book. I will thoroughly go through the article you referred me to, but I can already pick up some poor arguments in it just by skimming.

"Do you think that it is more plausible that mind or matter is the foundation of ultimate reality? "

Matter.

"What do you think is “at the bottom” of ultimate reality?"

Simplicity. Theists think they own the issue because they invoke mysterious "ultimates" that science can never get near to proving one way or the other. They also tend to invoke a lot of philosophy, again thinking they own the issue as though philosophical arguments were all one-way. They aren't. If there's a God, he'll need a monster explanation in his own right. Saying that it terminates with him is, to me, beyond ludicrous. An entity with so much power and intelligence isn't just a given; it's something that cries out for an explanation. The universe would be chicken-feed in comparison.

Mike said...

I said, “Tell me, how much work was being done on bacterial flagellum before Behe?"

And you said, “Quite a lot. In fact, during the court trial, Behe was embarrassed to find out that there had been a few dozen scientific journal papers on the evolution of the flagella.”

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t answer my question. How much work has been done since? Look at how much was done before, and how much has been done since. Is it that hard to admit that controversy sparks scientific work?

“ID doesn’t elevate the creator, it’s belittling of him… Evolution is far more parsimonious and elegant.”

Well, I see the comparison between a God who gives all the gifts to His creation right at the beginning, with none thereafter, kinda like the husband who says to his wife, “I said I loved you on our wedding day, and if I change my mind I’ll tell you.” The other conception would be of a God who continues to give gifts and interact with His prized creation, like a loving father who is actively involved with his children.

Honestly Lui I don’t know what happened over evolutionary history. All I am saying is that perhaps we should be open to ID theories because perhaps it will spur scientists to find answers quicker.

I said,
"Plus, it is an inescapable fact that the vast majority of the founding fathers of science were theists, driven by a desire to think God’s thoughts after him."
 And you said,
”Absolutely irrelevant; not only do I not try to escape that fact, I also have no interest in doing so. It has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the validity of the concept of God itself…”

I was just trying to argue that Christian belief is not a necessary hindrance to science, and perhaps even a motivator to scientific work.

“I can also conceive of fairies in the garden and other fictitious entities, but that doesn't make them any closer to being real. This has to be one of the weakest arguments I've ever seen.”

Perhaps because you do not understand the point of thought experiments like this, nor do I think you understand the actual argument you made. You were essentially arguing that mind MUST exist in a medium, but these thought experiments are intended to get us to see that this is not so. In other words, it is not an impossibility for mind to be non-material, or spirit. Now you did say that spirit is also a medium, because it is not “in a vacuum.” Well, you are right that it is not in a vacuum, because it is not in space at all! Spirit is by definition non-physical reality, but it seems you are ruling this type of reality out a priori. Do you believe that numbers exist? What about logic? Morals? Where are they located in the universe? Lui, all I am asking you to do is to at least consider a possibility, rather than hold on so tightly to the “who designed the designer” argument that you will not even consider the intuitions (i.e., deep inner apprehensions about what is real and true) that most of the world has in this particular area.

“I think you're over-mystified by mind. I am, too, but in a different way.”

Well, I am mystified by your view of mind coming from/being identical to matter.

“Dawkins goes through all these so-called arguments and disposes of them one by one throughout the book.”

Lui, is it intellectually responsible for you to cite a zoologist as the disposer of all the arguments for God’s existence? Is it intellectually responsible to pronounce judgments about logical arguments without adequate knowledge of the logical principles the arguments utilize? Does he dispose of them ALL? Does he even dispose the outdated ones he addresses? Enjoy the article, and please read with an open mind.

“Do you think that it is more plausible that mind or matter is the foundation of ultimate reality? "

Matter. 

"What do you think is “at the bottom” of ultimate reality?"

Simplicity.

Matter AND simplicity… Wow. Good luck trying to get those two to unite together in any meaningful way. BTW, why simplicity? What intuition of yours thinks that it must be simple? I agree with you, but I am just wondering why you believe this?

“Saying that it terminates with him is, to me, beyond ludicrous. An entity with so much power and intelligence isn't just a given; it's something that cries out for an explanation.” …But your theory does not? How about Dawkins “multiple universes”? That sounds simple to me.

Is saying that matter is at the bottom equally ludicrous, and even more so? Let’s think about this… Mindless, law-abiding (forget where these “laws” came from and why they are the mathematical constants they are) “stuff” infused with energy (forget what this “energy” is), produces purpose, beauty, mathematics, logic, minds, meaning, morals… Lui, matter is just “stuff”! It follows deterministic laws! *sigh* At least consider deism or pantheism…

It all boils down to which brute reality are we comfortable with not being able to explain? Mind or matter? Oh well, I guess there’s not much more we can say to each other.

bb said...

Well, since the One True God designed everything, I would say it should definitely be called Intelligent Design. You can talk about evolution, big bangs, and swampy pools all you want, but God designed you and wants to have a relationship with you. Sound impossible? No more impossible than the earth and all beings on it being formed by accident. Even though you deny God, He loves you and will save you from hell if you ask. It isnt fiction, its Truth. Dont wait until its too late to figure it out -remember Darwin? Before he died, he understood that God made the world. He devoted his life to disproving God, but in the end he could not deny God's existence.

Lui said...

"I’m sorry, but this doesn’t answer my question. How much work has been done since? Look at how much was done before, and how much has been done since. Is it that hard to admit that controversy sparks scientific work?"

I suppose it was the way you said it that implied to me that you thought that before Behe, there was little or no research. Be that as it may, the research that has been "sparked" by the so-called controversy is going against the ID position. Problems with "irreducible complexity" have been found and papers have been published highlighting these problems. Research continues to eat away at supernatural explanations for the complexity of life.

"Honestly Lui I don’t know what happened over evolutionary history. All I am saying is that perhaps we should be open to ID theories because perhaps it will spur scientists to find answers quicker."

I'm all for scientists finding answers quicker, as long as they're real answers. ID isn’t about finding answers, it’s about using personal incredulity and dressing it up in the language of science.

"You were essentially arguing that mind MUST exist in a medium, but these thought experiments are intended to get us to see that this is not so."

Why not? Merely because we can conceive of something is no reason at all to think that it's a good explanation. Your argument is circular: you're saying that mind can exist without brain, but in order to demonstrate that you're invoking a brainless mind and then assuming that it's a real possibility, without explaining why this is so. Yes, I can imagine a ghost or a spirit free form a physical mind, but this is because my (non-scientific, you could say built-in) conception of mind is like everyone else's: I imagine that when I speak to someone, I am speaking to “them” via their sense organs, and that this message is transmitted to their true "self". But the thought experiment is impoverished because it relies on this intuitive decoupling of mind and body being true to begin with. It’s hardly going to be a good thought experiment if the basic premise of it is mistaken. What I'm saying is that mind is something that science has shown only arises from something else, namely, the interaction of matter interacting in complex and multifaceted ways. Our traditional, intuitive theory of mind MIGHT be right, but that will be determined by investigation, not this through experiment that assumes from the outset what it tries to conclude. Daniel Dennett has spoken of the "intentional stance"; where one organism realises that another organism in its environment has agency of its own. Our theory of mind likely evolved from this intuition, and we have to turn to science to see why we are probably mistaken in it. Evolution can favour complexes that will not give us a true picture of the world as long as they are USEFUL pictures of the world. But useful for surviving and flourishing in the environments encountered by our ancestors, not scientifically useful.
Ironically, the very theory of mind that many of us find damning to evolution and materialism turns out to have an evolutionary, materialistic explanation.

"Morals?"

As I have said before, I don't believe that morals are something that exist "out there", not have I ever seen a good reason to suppose that it should be otherwise.

“"Lui, all I am asking you to do is to at least consider a possibility, rather than hold on so tightly to the “who designed the designer” argument that you will not even consider the intuitions"

This is where these types of arguments descend into farce: the atheist will be asked to be "reasonable" and "consider a possibility", whereas the theist has not budged one iota, even though he hasn't defined anything and has given us no good reasons to take his arguments seriously outside of personal incredulity and appeals to “non-physical” entities that are imputed with human-like attributes.

"(i.e., deep inner apprehensions about what is real and true) that most of the world has in this particular area."

These types of appeals will rightfully fall on sceptical ears because they give us no reason to suppose that those feelings themselves are gateways to truth, other than some warm, fuzzy emotions arising form those feelings themselves. They are themselves in need of explanation, not things on which to uncritically and/or automatically base all of reality.

"Well, I am mystified by your view of mind coming from/being identical to matter."

It's the view of most neuroscientists and behavioural scientists.

“Matter AND simplicity… Wow. Good luck trying to get those two to unite together in any meaningful way.”

To which I say: “Non-matter AND simplicity…” As I mentioned above, you will have to defend “Non-matter and simplicity” exhibiting mind and reason. I at least have something real (matter) and a process (cumulative change).

"I agree with you, but I am just wondering why you believe this?"

Because complexity necessarily arrives late in the universe. God, as I have said, is not simple. He's the exact opposite of simple. To say that God is simple is to say that we’re more complex than he is, and yet logic, numbers, morals, the capacity to design life are all supposedly part of his repertoire. No, we invented God, not the other way around. The only way for simplicity to arrive at complexity is through a cumulative process, not all of a sudden.


"“Saying that it terminates with him is, to me, beyond ludicrous. An entity with so much power and intelligence isn't just a given; it's something that cries out for an explanation.” …But your theory does not? How about Dawkins “multiple universes”? That sounds simple to me."

It does need an explanation. But I'm saying, God can't be the ultimate explanation because God himself would need a massive one himself. That's why I say that the ultimate explanation will be a simple one.


"Is saying that matter is at the bottom equally ludicrous, and even more so? Let’s think about this… Mindless, law-abiding (forget where these “laws” came from and why they are the mathematical constants they are) “stuff” infused with energy (forget what this “energy” is), produces purpose, beauty, mathematics, logic, minds, meaning, morals… Lui, matter is just “stuff”!"

This is just an argument from incredulity. If matter has no hope of manifesting itself in these amazing ways, what hope does something that’s “not physical”? You think that it's somehow self-evident that matter "cannot possibly" produce morals, beauty, logic. Why not? Because you have no conception of how this could possibly come about. But I do, and I find it a thousand times more interesting and awe-inspiring than the supernatural explanation. Someone once said something like the following: “A garden is beautiful enough without having to invoke fairies at the bottom of it.” And if there IS a God, then my hat off to him for his stroke of genius in inventing the evolutionary process.

"Spirit is by definition non-physical reality,"

What does that actually mean? Since you’ve basically admitted that God isn’t complex, you’re really talking about “simple nothingness”, and yet it’s endowed with the ability to think and reason.


BB, your post was flawed from beginning to finish. You manage to get just about everything wrong (like God dedicating his life to disproving Darwin; a lie, because before his theory dawned on him, he was himself a creationist. As for "the Earth and all beings on it "being formed by accident", you should really stop listening to propaganda and verse yourself in a bit of science before you presume to tell others what the "Truth" is) It's this type of snide, obnoxious, arrogant commentary that I have nothing but contempt for. Threats of damnation are, in my view, quite disgusting. It seems that lies and intimidation are all you have. (I'm not saying that you're lying, I'm saying that you've swallowed whole the lies of the fundamentalist lobby)

David B. Ellis said...

The scenario you describe is not so implausible. I have read the physicists, discussing the bubble universe hypothesis (a version of the multiverse idea) say that they consider it possible to generate a bubble universe in the laboratory---who knows, our own universe might be the result of such experiments.

David B. Ellis said...

A short article on the topic called THE BIG LAB EXPERIMENT: WAS OUR UNIVERSE CREATED BY DESIGN.

http://www.slate.com/id/2100715

The Moose said...

Great thought...though of course I would say that it wouldn't happen :-) It is an interesting adventure into what if. I'm curious if your thought process took you into what things might be discovered to prove such a thing. Silly question I know but I followed your line of thinking and it brought me there.

For me of course, creation does reveal attributes about God. He revealed enough about Himself through Jesus Christ. Of course, again a subject for another post.

Man...first time I've read and commented on 3 posts on the same blog in the same reading. I'll move on for now!