Home » Intelligent Design » A Deistic Rebuttal of “Dogmatic Atheism and Scientific Ignorance”

A Deistic Rebuttal of “Dogmatic Atheism and Scientific Ignorance”

In this essay, deist Peter Murphy charges those he calls “active” or “dogmatic” atheists with being “scientifically illiterate, illogical, and cynical”. Poor Mr. Murphy. I guess he just doesn’t realize that by challenging materialistic dogma established fact, he’s just exposed himself as a Bible thumpin’ Christian fundy. I wonder what role in that dastardly Wedge Strategy he fulfills. :P

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14 Responses to A Deistic Rebuttal of “Dogmatic Atheism and Scientific Ignorance”

  1. Peter Murphy may be a Diest, but his understanding of evolution, and its detractors is somewhat limited. He states: “All scientific research and experimentation conducted up to now, without exception, support the Theory of Evolution, and nothing yet detracts from it.” Hmmm, Behe’s challenge of irreduceable complexity still stands as a challenge as far as I can see.

    “The detractors of the Theory of Evolution have no alternative theory that fits the evidence.” In a way I find this to be true. Is it really necessary for Behe to present an alternative to RM+NS, or is the fact that RM+NS cannot explain something adequate enough?

    “{T]o argue against natural selection over eons borders on the delusional.” To argue agains life developing over eons may be delusional, but to conclude that life developed over eons hardly forces one to accept the causation — RM+NS.

    “Creationists are merely dogmatic theists more obsessed with conformity to a religious ideology through the misrepresentation of science than studying nature.”

    “The Theory of Evolution will hold unless a better theory arises to replace it.” The theory of evolution should hold up only until evidence can be established which cannot be accounted for by the theory. Is that not what happened with the ether theory? Is that not what happened with the “big crunch” hypothesis?

  2. Hey! ID is becoming quite a movement, I’ve been diggin’ through it, but I still have some questions. The most pertinent one is about the design detection in biological systems, and how to accurately identify one.

    I’m asking that because today we talk about the flagelum and DNA, but if it was some years ago, probably we would talk about hands or other features. Meanwhile, biology is getting more and more explanations. So, where do we stop?

    There appear to me to be two stopping points. One for biological ID and one for cosmological ID. For the latter, more often called the fine tuning argument, there’t little to argue or investigate. You either believe the universe was created or you don’t and it doesn’t appear science can ever answer that question as it can’t look beyond the beginning of the universe. In biological ID the stopping point for me is the ribosome and DNA. This protein fabrication machine is in every living thing examined so far, in all of them it uses a virtually identical digital code for program and data storage, is orders of magnitude more complex than a flagellum, and had a lot less time to evolve presuming it’s been around since life first began 3.5 bya. Pointing to the flagellum as irreducibly complex is really framing the problem around something far more tractible for a Darwinian pathway than ribosomes and DNA. -ds

  3. The notion that a current “scientific” (i.e., purely materialistic) explanation of a phenomenon can’t be abandoned until another purely materialistic explanation is proposed to replace it, makes no sense.

    What if a purely materialistic explanation flies in the face of everything that is known about the causal adequacy of materialistic processes?

    This is not difficult: Origin-of-life researchers should just be honest and admit that they don’t have the faintest idea how life got started or how complex, information-processing bio-systems could be produced by chance, physical laws, or their combination.

    The RM+NS explanation of the origin of ever-increasing information content, bio-complexity, and functional integration, once life did get started, is also clearly a dead hypothesis.

    Design is a perfectly reasonable, logical alternative, even if the origin of design can’t be explicitly identified. The burden of proof should be on those who make illogical and counterfactual claims about the creative powers of purely materialistic processes.

  4. I concur with the majority of murphy’s essay. Atheistic crusaders should be taken to task over their claims for a monopoly on rationalism and science. That said, I’d like to state for the record once more so that no one is confused… The rumors concerning of the death of RM+NS as an *candidate* explanation for bio-complexity have been greatly exaggerated. RM+NS continues to be the active, insofar as it is the *only*, working hypothesis for the vast majority of practicing biologists/chemists/whatever–anyone whose work actually brushes up against biocomplexity. Naturally no one is going to *demonstrate*, *prove*, or otherwise *establish* RM+NS can generate biocomplexity beyond a reasonable doubt any time soon. It’s not clear how one would even begin to do so. No stripped down experimentation with modern computers can even begin to scale to the nature of the problem. Scientists wll, I predict, continue to show that tiny pieces of the puzzle here and there appear to have been accomplished by RM+NS. There’s some transposon generated gene info that’s going to hit the press soon (that’s just a little piece of the complexity pie, obviously). If RM+NS can accomplish these little tricks, who’s to say it can’t do the whole show?? I, for one, would be thrilled if Dembski’s arguments about complexity and associated statistical arguments held water. I’ve often pondered if there was some knock-down argument/info I could extract from the genomic sequence to demonstrate evolution **SIMPLY COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED THE WAY THE STORY’S TOLD**. I would be famous and probably could spend more time fishing. There would be grumbling, of course, but ultimately my colleagues would set about trying to understand just what DID happen. The fact is, however, biologists/chemists/statisticians aren’t buying RM+NS can’t generate biocomplexity argument as posed. It’s not a vast left-wing darwinian conspiracy; it’s b/c 1)there isn’t agreement that the problem has been framed correctly and 2)there isn’t agreement that, having been framed, it’s be properly analyzed/calculated. I, for one, am a fan of paradigm shifts. Same with many of my scientist friends. We’ll be the first to sign up when the revolution comes. But I’m yet to see the platform or the leader.

    Fortunately there’s no practical need to know if random mutation plus natural selection is capable of creating novel cell types, tissue types, organs, or body plans because even if it’s true it works so slowly that it has no practical consequences. We might need to worry if science fiction horror movies about spiders mutating into creatures the size of elephants overnight or bacteria could mutate into “The Blob” but it just doesn’t work that way. The only evolution we really have to worry about is just a few proteins in bacteria and insects mutating in ways that cause our antibiotics and pesticides to become ineffective while leaving the bacteria and insect species wherein the changes occur quite intact as far as the species they belong to. So really, why care? It doesn’t make a bit of practical difference how whales evolved or whether birds came from dinosaurs. It’s about as important as knowing how long it takes the galaxy to spin around in a circle or how many billions of years the sun will continue to burn. We have more urgent things for science to investigate. -ds

  5. I don’t present his essay because of the quality of his arguments. Difficulties are not hard to find. Nevertheless, segments of what he writes appear strikingly similar to what IDists have argued. In particular, consider what he says about abiogenesis. My experience with anti-ID materialists has been that almost invariably they point to Christian Creationists when such topics as the possible involvement of a “Creator” or other designing intelligence in the origin of life are brought up. Of course, I’m sure this is something that at most commenters here are acutely aware of. I simply offer Murphy as only one example of a non-Christian–indeed a non-theist–who thinks along at least very similar lines as an IDist.

  6. Thanks for the article Crandaddy. My hunch is that in the years to come when more people realise that evolution as currently understood is akin to a giant perpetual motion machine and that it points to an external cause, they will not move from atheism to Christianity but to deism. Some of the greatest philosiphers have been deists after all and perhaps the intellectuals will return to this when, as Francis Collins has recently said, atheism is the LEAST rational alternative (at least when compared to agnostism or deism). Reason alone will take us as far as deism (and I believe that is where ID leads) but no further. Christianity requires a move into the realm of faith, which goes beyond – no against – reason. Not all people are willing to take this step.

  7. it’s b/c 1)there isn’t agreement that the problem has been framed correctly and 2)there isn’t agreement that, having been framed, it’s be properly analyzed/calculated.

    I think this bears repeating.

    At the same time, the only think that Behe’s IRC arguments are capable of showing is that no known random mutations can account for complexity. So to answer bFast’s question, yes he really does need to show an alternative, because the current hypothesis is the best we’ve got going. Before transposons, RM+NS was even more implausible. But right on cue, a process was discovered that could help account for such a large diversity. Ditto HOX genes. There is nothing to say that we’ve reached the end of discovering the various kinds of mutations and variation that can contribute to biodiversity. But then again, I’ve never understood why “we don’t know all the details yet” gets translated as “RM+NS is wrong”.

    That said, I’d also like to comment on antg statement that “reason alone will take us as far as deism”. I don’t think that that is true; I think reason can lead us to theism and even straight-up Christianity. That’s what Aquinas believed. Faith does not necessarily go against reason, although it can (see, Mormonism). Faith and reason can and must enhance each other. I have faith in my Faith because I can reason. And I have faith in my ability to reason because of my faith. And if I can’t reason my way to God then why did he bother to give me reason in the first place.

  8. mjb99: “But then again, I’ve never understood why “we don’t know all the details yet” gets translated as “RM+NS is wrong”.” Why does “we don’t know all of the details” get translated to “…yet”, as in “is there a possibility that some details just can’t be discovered?” Why does “we don’t know all of the detail” get translated to “RM+NS will provide the answer!?”

    If science is determined to hold to methodological naturalism, and there is good reason for it to do so, then science must quit assuming that the extrapolation — RM+NS will hold, and begin to accept and promote the time hewn scientific position of “we don’t know.”

    As far as antg’s view that reason leads to diesm, not to Christianity, I pondered that and I agree. Though my faith is independant of reason, my faith is not in spite of reason, but is and must be supported by reason. But true faith happens in the heart, not the head. Reason happens in the head.

  9. If science is determined to hold to methodological naturalism, and there is good reason for it to do so, then science must quit assuming that the extrapolation — RM+NS will hold, and begin to accept and promote the time hewn scientific position of “we don’t know.”

    I’m not quite following you. Extrapolation is a very important aspect of science. And it isn’t as if we don’t know. RM+NS (with a liberal dosing of genetic drift and sexual selection) has been holding pretty well. And until it is contradicted, there is no reason to abandon it as a theory. I do not see a qualitative difference between the extrapolation that RM+NS will continue to hold and the extrapolation that, since all known design is from an intelligent source, every instance of design is. If evolutionists are expected to say it’s possible that RM+NS cannot account for all biodiversity, even though there is no evidence that it cannot, I don’t see why IDers can’t say it’s possible that they could detect design in the flagellum but it still not be the product of design. It’s perfectly reasonable to say that, since all known design is derived from intelligence, if we can detect design in nature then that design must be from intelligence as well. Likewise, it is perfectly reasonable to say that, since no evolutionary prediction has ever been contradicted by data, that it reasonably won’t be any time soon.

  10. Bible Thumpin’ Christian Fundies vs. Church Burnin’ Ebola Boys

    The cage fight to end all cage fights.

    Gitcher tickets here!

  11. Aint it somethin’ how anti-ID materialism and atheist apologetic arguments involving science are almost indistinguishable. In fact, the only real difference I see is that those who argue for the former like to say that science doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist and that science and faith occupy two separate intellectual spheres, and those who argue for the latter like to use the same arguments to show that theistic or deistic faith is unjustified and irrational.

  12. “Fortunately there’s no practical need to know if random mutation plus natural selection is capable of creating novel cell types, tissue types, organs, or body plans because even if it’s true it works so slowly that it has no practical consequences.” –ds

    I agree with you that there’s no immediate or forseeable practical need for having such knowledge. No argument there. Still, I’d like to think that the scientific enterprise is about more than generating practical benefits, new technology, etc. In my mind, science is also about gaining a better understanding of the universe we live in and our relationship to it. I think in this respect it most closely resembles religion. In this view of science, knowing how we (biologically) came to exist matters. In much the same way it matters to know if comsmological data indicates our universe was customly designed for life.

    That’s all well and good but don’t reach into my pocket to pay for it and don’t waste my kid’s time forcing him to learn it in public school. I’ve got better things to pay for and he’s got better things to learn. Doesn’t that sound fair? -ds

  13. Reflecting on my earlier comment on reason and deism…

    I believe science can lead to deism but no further, but I agree with mjb99 that reason can lead to theism, as this involves issues of ethics, morals, meaning, beauty, etc which is within the realm of reason, but not science. Obviously this depends a lot on how we define theism and deism, and of course science.

  14. I believe science can lead to deism but no further, but I agree with mjb99 that reason can lead to theism, as this involves issues of ethics, morals, meaning, beauty, etc which is within the realm of reason, but not science. Obviously this depends a lot on how we define theism and deism, and of course science.

    I agree completely.

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