The Drifting Argument from Design

Imagine the following 3 beaches.

  1. A beach on which there are a billion stacks of clams, all stacked 4-high.
  2. A beach on which there are only 4 clams, stacked 4-high.
  3. A beach on which there are 4 clams stacked 4-high, plus a billion other unstacked clams.

Which beach has an intelligence likely visited?

Most rational persons would say beach #1 since it is highly unlikely that what is perceived as of human design (a stack of 4 clams) would have been duplicated a billion times. Beach #2 would be second since it would be unlikely that, if there were 4 clams on the beach, those 4 clams would be stacked on top of each other.

However, most humans would concede that, with a billion clams on an ocean beach, it is quite likely that what would be unlikely on the uncluttered beach #2 would exist naturally on busy beach #3.

Now consider which hypothetical universe below would offer greatest evidence of intelligent design.

  1. A universe in which there are a billion planets, all populated by intelligence.20130908-205116.jpg
  2. A universe in which there is only one planet, populated by intelligence.
  3. A universe in which there is only one planet, populated by intelligence, plus a billion other unpopulated planets.

I think you get the picture.

For centuries, the argument for design was promoted under the assumption of universe #2; that there were no other planets. Now that we have indeed ascertained that there are billions of potential worlds out there, theists have exchanged the old argument for a new argument. Why would this planet, of all the billions of planets, be the only one known to be populated by intelligence?

They have forgotten their previous argument, and fail to consider that, on a beach with a billion clams, it is far from unlikely that you would find 4 clams stacked 4-high, and in a universe with a billion planets, it is far from unlikely that you would find a single planet with some sort of complexity.

The argument from design remains a possibly valid argument if it can be shown that nature can not by itself generate complexity to the point of intelligence, but to suggest that this argument is now now significantly weaker than in centuries past in which we accepted #2 is dishonest. And the question of why an actual intelligent designer would not have created universe #1 or #2 warrants doubt about the existence of any proposed intelligent designer.

I remain open-minded but unconvinced that the universe required an intelligent designer, especially since there has been no substantiated case of an intelligence existing apart from a material substrate.

Is DNA Code?

dnaIs DNA code? This question has been answered affirmatively by some in an attempt to argue that DNA requires an intelligent author. Therefore the more fundamental question is “Did DNA arise from a natural process or from an intelligent designer?”

This is a legitimate question, but not a unique one. Throughout history, millions of similar questions have been asked, all having the basic form of “Does X have a natural or a supernatural cause?” Plug pandemics, lighting or psychotic behavior into X as examples.

For most of these millions of questions of causation throughout history, there have been 2 basic approaches.

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Deconstructing the Deconstruction of Dawkins

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deconstructionBelow you’ll find my critique of the arguments contained in an article written by Logan Paul Gage purporting to uncover the illogical arguments set out by Richard Dawkins, albeit indirectly through a book written by Alister McGrath. I will not address Dawkin’s arguments, nor will I comment on anything other than Alister’s own logic or lack thereof.

Exercise for IDers

LightsExercise: Identifying improper argumentation common to UFO theorists and Intelligent Design proponents.

Hardcore UFO theorists have co-opted and distorted science and reason to bolster their own position and agenda in the following ways.

1. The term UFO itself no longer generically means unidentified flying object, but rather has taken on the connotation of extraterrestrial beings who have stopped by for a visit. This allows mere mysterious “sightings” to be categorized through equivocation as positive evidence for extraterrestrial activity. They suggest that, anyone using the term UFO admits to “Unsolicited beings from another star with big eyes and brains who have come in plate-shaped spacecrafts to conduct biological research on humans.”

Logical Form {The term “x” means “X”.}

2. Presumably, there exist real physical evidence of a mysterious aircraft tucked away in some government warehouse in Roswell. To the hypothetical unveiling of this aircraft, UFO theorist are prepared to uncritically attach their comprehensive plug-and-play matrix of facts and explanations of extraterrestrial existence conjured up from raw imagination. Though there are contradictory explanatory theories within the set of all UFO theorists, all seek just that one piece of physical evidence that scientists cannot explain as a complete validation of their own theories. Were that piece to be revealed and to remain unexplained, they would assume that the entire construct of their respective predicated theories could then simply be snapped contingently onto that piece.

Logical Form {If “P” is exists, then “P” is “X”, and “Y” through “Z” are also true.}

3. Any humble admission by any scientist in any field that extraterrestrial beings could exist is heralded as a concession, and inappropriately taken from logical possibility to probability or at least to equal status with extraterrestrial non-existence.

Logical Form {“X” has been shown to be possible, so “X” is close to probable.}

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