“Unpredictable” Does Not Equal “Contingent”
|December 15, 2008||Posted by Barry Arrington under Intelligent Design|
In a previous post JT believes he has crushed the entire ID project by pointing out that: “A process determined entire[ly] by law can have EXTREMELY complex behavior and extremely difficult to predict behavior.”
No one disputes JT’s point, but it is beside the point as far as ID is concerned. JT is making a common error – he is confusing “unpredictable” with “contingent.” They are very different things.
When a bomb explodes the pieces of the bombshell are scattered willy nilly, and it is impossible to predict where any piece will land. Nevertheless, where each and every piece lands is utterly determined by law. In other words, where each piece lands is a function of nothing but the various physical forces acting upon it, which could, in principle, be modeled by a mathematical formula. This is an example of the complex unpredictable behavior resulting from law to which JT alludes.
Contrast the complex unpredictable – but nevertheless determined – behavior of the bombshell with the contingent behavior of an intelligent agent. This sentence that I am writing is an example of contingent behavior. My choice of typing out a certain combination of letters and spaces and not another cannot be accounted for on the basis of any known law. The only way to account for the sentence is as the contingent act of an intelligent agent. I had a choice, and I wrote that sentence instead of another.
Now JT might counter that I only believe I had a choice in writing that sentence, that my consciousness is an illusion, and that my actions were governed by law as surely as the flight of the pieces of bombshell. Well that’s the question isn’t it. JT – and other materialists – do not know that my consciousness (and theirs) is an illusion. They merely assert it, and until they can provide evidence (and by “evidence” I do not mean the recitation of their metaphysical tropes), that the seemingly self evident fact that I am conscious is not after all a fact, I will go on believing it. What is more (and this is very amusing) so will they. In other words, materialists struggle to prove that which they do not really believe. Every one of them knows he is a conscious agent, and why they attempt to prove that which they know for a certain fact not to be the case is a mystery.
Later JT wrote: “And for the record, I generally put ‘mind’ in quotes when referring to the ID concept of it and don’t use the term much at all, because of the potential for confusion.”
One wonders what JT meant by “I,” in that sentence, because if, as he says, the mind does not exist, the concept of “I” has no meaning, so it seems to me that it would make more sense for him to put irony quotes around “I” and not “mind.” This, of course, is just another example of how the materialist is forced to affirm the non-materialist case in the very act of attempting to refute it.