Home » Intelligent Design » One third of British teachers think ID or creationism okay

One third of British teachers think ID or creationism okay

In The Daily Telegraph, Martin Beckford tells us “One in three teachers says teach creationism alongside evolution” (07 N0v 2008).

The poll found that 31 per cent of teachers agree that creationism or intelligent design – the theory that the universe shows signs of having been designed rather than evolving – should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom, including 18 per cent of science teachers.

Half of those questioned agreed that excluding the alternative to evolution would alienate religious pupils, and almost nine out of 10 believed they should be allowed to discuss creationism if pupils bring it up.

Mr Bethell said: “Although over half of teachers either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea that creationism should be given the same status as evolution, there is a significant minority who believe that it should be given equal weight.

“Nearly half of teachers also agreed with Professor Michael Reiss’ sentiment that excluding alternative explanations to evolution is counter-productive and alienates pupils from science.

No surprise here, except, were I advising those teachers, I would tell them to keep quiet about their doubts for now. The people who fired Michael Reiss are perfectly capable of a purge, and indeed, a purge has already been threatened.

The elite Darwinist materialists will then – par for the course – replace experienced teachers with their stooges – signally free of either brains or guts, and likely to resolve evidence-based doubts by an orgy of compulsory communal Darwin worship.

Arthur Jones, chair of the British Association of Christian Teachers, writes to say,

If you want to watch what TeachersTV in the UK is producing for teachers and schools, promoting Darwin and attacking creationism and intelligent design, then go here.

It is dreadful, but it does illustrate a stark divide – scientists agitating for dogmatism and indoctrination and educationists and teachers feeling that discussion and argument are better.

I say it was dreadful because at no point does it explain what creationists or ID proponents actually believe, nor how they handle the evidence. Almost none of the ‘evidence’ mentioned in the programme discriminates between the positions. Adam Rutherford, the presenter, is, in relation to the issue he was addressing, plain ignorant (and that’s being generous!)

However there are some good omens in the UK – growing instances of the atheists having to face the hard questions that their control of the UK media has hitherto enabled them to avoid (e.g. Justin Brierley’s interview of Richard Dawkins after his last debate with John Lennox in Oxford on 21 October – you can listen to it on the Premier website here ).

Actually, Dawkins – who told Ben Stein that, given a choice, he is willing to believe space aliens created life rather than that God did – should long ago have been discredited as a public figure. The fact that he hasn’t been tells you how bad things are in Britain.

So British teachers, read as much as you can about design and teach those alert students with whom you can safely share information to remain quiet about what they know for now. And wait for the signal.

See also: Can we all just spell out together “U-S-E-F-U-L I-D-I-O-T-S” and have done with it?

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51 Responses to One third of British teachers think ID or creationism okay

  1. Denyse, thanks for this.

    Recently an Australian Christian school were fimed talking about ID in a science class for a public TV documentary on ID.

    They got into trouble with the educational authorities. Someone high up in the public high school principal’s association complained and they experienced an inquisition, with the threat that government funding support could be withdrawn.

    It seems that it is not just in the US where one must live in fear of being EXPELLED.

    It is interesting that Adam Rutherford (NATURE) has called for the re education of science teachers who don’t think Darwin is king. If they cannot see the truth, he thinks they should be fired.

  2. Hey, Waltzing Matilda, cool.

    In my view, the entire Western world is entering another fascist spaz. We just scored a key victory in Canada here. We have a long way to go. But as they used to say in World War II, Godspeed.

  3. But this poll should not encourage Intelligent Design proponents. It shows very clearly that teachers thing the reason for including it is for the sake of students’ feelings – *not* for its scientific merit. How can you be happy about this poll?

    Also, Dawkins’ comment about aliens vs. God is not difficult to understand, as you know. He’s making a point about God, not aliens or humans. He’s saying that God is so implausible and so complex and so different than known causes that he is even more implausible than aliens.

  4. I have a much better argument against evolution anyway here:
    http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com/

  5. NS

    He’s saying that God is so implausible and so complex and so different than known causes that he is even more implausible than aliens.

    Not really. Depends on how much time each of them has to grow more complex. In an infinite amount of time an infinitely complex intelligence is not just plausible, it’s inevitable.

  6. Okay, so you’re telling me that your thesis depends on a doctrine of the evolution of God. Feel free to scientifically examine that proposition, and post the evidence. Great.

    In any case you say “not really” when my comment is exactly correct: That is Dawkins’ point. Not some crazy alien theory that O’Leary insinuates in order to suggest he should be discredited.

  7. In an infinite amount of time an infinitely complex intelligence is not just plausible, it’s inevitable.

    LOL. Good point, Dave.!

  8. Someone up there (scottrobinson) said:

    “Will you condemn or condone teaching creationism to impressionable children?

    I can understand your promotion of intelligent design, but creationism?”

    Oh come ON! You forget that I am a Canadian.

    We have just started to beat back into their troll holes a bunch of evil snitches who run around trying to get people in trouble for what they believe. (Google Ezra Levant + “human rights” Commission if you need to know what I am talking about.)

    I got a far better education than most kids today. Some of my teachers were creationists and others were theistic evolutionsits or ID folk. Some were atheists.

    In those days in Canada, people were respectful and it was okay to talk about what you believed.

    That was a far cry from now, and today’s situation is NOT an improvement. If Brit thugs come down heavy on teachers who are creationists, I hope someone wipes the floor with them. That’s the best use I can think of right now for evil snitches.

    Creationism doesn’t make much sense to me but pogroms make way less sense.

    I trust I have made my position clear.

  9. Richard Dawkins is on record (the documentary film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”) as stating that he would support directed panspermia (aliens seeding life throughout the galaxy) in lieu of belief in God.

    The fact that atheists resort to irrational, outrageous theories in order to avoid God tells me that their atheism is more a matter of the will than of the mind.

  10. NS,

    “In any case you say “not really” when my comment is exactly correct: That is Dawkins’ point. Not some crazy alien theory that O’Leary insinuates in order to suggest he should be discredited.”

    One problem here is that Dawkins is (and this is a favorite past time of the modern New Atheists, I notice) mixing science with philosophy/theology, and passing it off as nothing but science.

    Dawkins, in those oft-cited examples, takes a step that every major ID proponent I’ve seen is unwilling to take: Identifying the designer. Worse, Dawkins establishes who the designer can be positively identified as in advance – there is no design, and even if there is, it’s not God. Ergo, no evidence for design, no matter how instrumental or grand, could ever be evidence for God.

    So no, as near as I can tell you’re wrong on this point. Dawkins’ comments about aliens were in large part criticized because he’s willing to concede that design is a real possibility, that design cases may even be scientific (even rational?) explanations – but only if God is expressly ruled out from the outset. The moment you’re willing to file any and all evidence for God under ‘aliens’ or (as some more transhumanist-inclined atheists prefer to go) ‘simulated universe and the programmer is definitely not God’, there’s no more discussion to be had. You’re taking a position similar to solipsism, where axioms rule out any and all counter-evidence, and the axioms cannot be questioned.

    And you know what? I don’t mind if a person is a solipsist. If Dawkins wants to build that wall, that’s fine. But when he wants to argue that there’s no evidence for God, and also that any evidence one could attribute to God must instead be attributed to aliens, he’s playing a shallow game that comes down to philosophy, rather than science. He deserves to be called out on the point.

    (PS: Davescot makes a great point, one I’ve long considered. Appealing to eternity to explain apparent design is fatal – eternity doesn’t just make the spontaneous assembly of complex structures a certainty. It makes /design/ a certainty too, on all scales. Materialism/naturalism collapses the moment a person is willing to accept ground rules that include eternity and actual infinities.)

  11. noted

    I was disputing Dawkins, not you.

    Evolution has no limits in an infinite amount of time. Back in the day when a steady state universe was commonly accepted Darwinian evolution was a decent theory. It only fell apart when the age of the universe got a commonly accepted bound while the known complexity of life increased (and it is still increasing) exponentially. With every passing day, while we discover greater and greater intricacy in life, evolution’s job gets more and more difficult when the time to get her done doesn’t increase along with the magnitude of the task.

  12. So let’s recap:

    Dawkins should be discredited because of the belief that aliens as a cause of life is simpler than God as the cause of life. Doesn’t seem that crazy or discredit-worthy to me. At least aliens doesn’t posit an entirely separate ontology from the known Universe.

    And furthermore, your arguments still seem to rest on some kind of belief that God has evolved… in isolation? I’m still waiting for the data on that.

    And does Dawkins believe the Universe is infinitely old? I don’t think so.

  13. NS,

    The problem with Dawkins on this point isn’t that he believes aliens are simpler than God as an explanation. It’s that he’s sandbagging – ‘there is no design, and even if there is, it can’t be God’. That’s fine when he’s building his own personal keep-God-out wall – he’s welcome to believe what he pleases. But he’s made a career out of insulting, belittling, and condemning people for being open to the possibility of design, because he doesn’t like the designer they envision. There’s plenty of room to knock Dawkins for being able to accept the idea that Klingons may have been involved, while huffily insisting that a deity is ridiculous.

    And complaining about an ‘entirely separate ontology’ in this context is ridiculous, because design questions extend to the known universe itself. It’s the very metaphysical viewpoint and status which is at issue – appealing to it doesn’t break any perceived ties.

    Again, note that the problem isn’t that Dawkins simply disagrees. It’s that he thinks anyone who disagrees with him on these subjects is an idiot, irrational, and possibly dangerous. So when the Bright who pontificates on just how rational and correct he is can be seen preparing a design ‘out’ in case the evidence continues to not shape up in the way he hopes it does, yes, he’s discrediting himself. Maybe he’ll eventually shape up and concede that a serious case can be made for viewpoints he personally doesn’t agree with.

  14. Statistically speaking this survey was almost worthless. It was based on a self-selecting sample and the question about equal weight in the classroom omitted to say which class: science or Religious education.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie.....-education

    Still I guess it makes for a sensational story.

  15. Nullasalus,

    Dawkins did admit recently, in his 2nd debate with John Lennox, that a reasonably respectable case could be made for a deistic God, but it is something he does not believe. So he may be taking steps in the right direction, although I do see your point too, and am personally no fan of Dawkins.

    And on the quote by O’Leary of:

    “The people who fired Michael Reiss are perfectly capable of a purge, and indeed, a purge has already been threatened.”

    All I can say is, in the words of Jim Carrey from Bruce Almighty, they are: “Wimpy… kiddy… baby… whiners!!” Seriously, this threatening, intolerant, bullying has to end! I’m seriously sick of it!

  16. At least aliens doesn’t posit an entirely separate ontology from the known Universe.

    The known Universe requires an entirely separate ontology from the known Universe. What came before the Big Bang?

  17. Re “the words of Jim Carrey from Bruce Almighty, they are: “Wimpy… kiddy… baby… whiners!!” Seriously, this threatening, intolerant, bullying has to end! I’m seriously sick of it!”

    Here in Canada, we have begun a new policy of just putting the boots to that kind of thing.

    Hereafter, if you want attention in Canada, it is better not to be a thug, because you will get attention, all right, but not the kind you likely want.

    We are characteristically non-violent people, so if you really scare us, we will really disarm you.

  18. Domoman,
    So it’s intolerant bullying to want science taught in a science class is it?

    If you think creationism *is* science then I see how there might be a problem. Do you think it is science?

    O’Leary,
    No, your comment was not clear. Will you condem creationists teaching creationism in science class or not?

    As I noted in my previous comment, I don’t think there should be a purge of people who hold a particular viewpoint, just that science should be taught in science class and those that cannot do that should not be teachers. Do you agree or not?

  19. So it’s intolerant bullying to want science taught in a science class is it?

    How about we only teach what is demonstrable in science class?

    For explanations of origins how about we teach them in a history or culture class with the testing done on the understanding of the various methodologies and explicitly stating that acceptance of any conclusion is not required?

    This would include Old Earth vs. Young Earth and neo-Darwinian evolution vs. creationism. :-)

  20. Nullasalus:
    Dawkins doesn’t have some ad hoc principle of the designer not being God no matter what. He says that (obviously, to him) the designer would be more evolved than us – hence some extraterrestrial life. He also adds, unmistakably, that he doesn’t believe this is the case.

    He explains it very clearly many many times, e.g. here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNu8F01BD9k

    Other than that, I’m sorry that Dawkins’ rhetoric hurts your feelings. But: Who cares? We’re grown-ups now.

    Tribune7:
    You ask, “What came before the big bang?” I would say, “I don’t know, there isn’t any evidence to answer this question.” What data do you have from before the Big Bang?

  21. You ask, “What came before the big bang?” I would say, “I don’t know, there isn’t any evidence to answer this question.”

    Actually, what I was pointing out that that the known Universe requires an entirely separate ontology from the known Universe.

    And since we know the Universe exists, and since we know of no natural law to explain why it exists, the most reasonable explanation is something beyond the natural.

    Which is a claim made by Christianity, so I guess you can say that it is evidence for Christianity.

  22. Tribune7:

    “the known Universe requires an entirely separate ontology from the known Universe.”

    This is not at all clear – how can you demonstrate this? And your conclusion,
    “since we know of no natural law to explain why it exists, the most reasonable explanation is something beyond the natural”
    doesn’t follow. “Beyond the natural” is a metaphor, and not a very useful one. Whatever science discovers is typically included in the natural. Furthermore, there is no ad hoc way from preventing this conclusion to follow infinitely from, say, something “beyond the natural.” Unless you “know” of this object to the degree that you even “know” of a “law” to explain “why it exists.” Do you?

    “Which is a claim made by Christianity”
    No it isn’t. It is a claim made by Intelligent Design. “Christianity” doesn’t distinguish between “natural” and “beyond natural” in terms of scientific naturalism; it furthermore presupposes something coexisting with God at the beginning, when the earth was formless and void, and God was hovering around and so on. (more of your metaphors perhaps, which apparently pass for science).

    Lastly, it is embarrassing that your piece of “evidence” is explicitly a piece of nonevidence, that we don’t know. I wonder – do you posit “something beyond the natural” to explain every phenomenon where we “know of no natural law”? Isn’t there a word for this procedure?

  23. NS,

    “Dawkins doesn’t have some ad hoc principle of the designer not being God no matter what. He says that (obviously, to him) the designer would be more evolved than us – hence some extraterrestrial life. He also adds, unmistakably, that he doesn’t believe this is the case.”

    Sorry – you’re wrong again. Dawkins does have an ad hoc ‘no God’ principle in play in this case. God would be a superior intelligence compared to humanity (I question whether Dawkins would say ‘more evolved’ – I can’t see him viewing evolution on a gradient, unless he’s getting sloppy as usual) who not only would be part of the potential designer set here, but who has typically been pointed to in western religious tradition as being responsible for the event in question. Yet Dawkins limits the possibility to aliens. By all means, prove me wrong – I’d love to see where Dawkins admits that evidence of design could be evidence for God, even if phrased as ‘God, or any other superior intelligence’. That should be easy for you.

    “Other than that, I’m sorry that Dawkins’ rhetoric hurts your feelings. But: Who cares? We’re grown-ups now.”

    Go back and read what I said: I didn’t make any reference to feelings, or even make an issue of Dawkins’ language for language’s sake. I pointed out that Dawkins has not limited himself to disagreeing with other people’s views on these issues – he’s expressly denounced them for even entertaining or investigating certain views, full stop.

    So yes, when Dawkins makes a career out of attacking people for believing in or seeking God, yet turns around and makes room for klingons and the pod people from beyond alpha centauri – he’s discrediting himself. He’s either showing that his concerns aren’t what he claims they are (Reason! Rationality! Science!), or that reason, rationality, and science are able to seriously entertain the fundamental perspective of theists – and that the line he draws in the sand on those issues is arbitrary, and motivated by secondary considerations.

  24. NS–the known Universe requires an entirely separate ontology from the known Universe. . . .This is not at all clear – how can you demonstrate this?

    Because you cannot describe the fundamental aspects of the known Universe using the ontology of the known Universe hence an entirely separate ontology is required. This should be self-evident.

    “Beyond the natural” is a metaphor, and not a very useful one.

    It’s not a metaphor. It is a literal statement. Natural has a meaning. Supernatural has a meaning. Natural explanations fail to describe the universe. Supernatural ones do not. The only reason to reject a supernatural explanation is emotion.

  25. Nullasalus,

    I did provide a direct example of him making these points, in the Youtube link which contains an interview Dawkins did on NPR. He explains, very clearly, that anything sophisticated and advanced enough to create life would of course be something very evolved since the origin of the Universe. Nothing complicated about that. There’s no ad hoc principle against God there. He even says that we might be tempted to call creatures with creating powers “God.” Seems plausible, but there’s so far no reason to believe the alien story, which is why Dawkins doesn’t believe it.

    At the very best there is no scientific way to decide between a supernatural designer or a natural designer of life on earth. We were either not designed, designed by something natural, or designed by something non-natural. It is transparently simpler to suppose we were designed by something natural – designed by the sort of thing that science deals with.

  26. Tribune7:

    “you cannot describe the fundamental aspects of the known Universe using the ontology of the known Universe”
    This is all science does. In fact, what people like Dawkins resist is invoking objects “outside” the Universe.

    “It’s not a metaphor.”
    The term “beyond natural” is unequivocally a metaphor. Perhaps what you really mean is “not natural,” which would just be a negation. But natural is an all-encompassing term and so it’s not clear what the term not natural, or supernatural, is supposed to refer to. Is it identical with “non material”? Like morals and thoughts? Does it mean nonverifiable? Etc.

    http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com/

  27. [A] walked into a room with [B] and both observed a red ball on a table.

    [A] Asks the question: “Look! There is a red ball on the table, how did it get there?

    [B] responds, “What do you mean, how did it get there? Obviously, someone put it there.” Case closed.

    Now, blow up the ball the size of a basketball, and ask the question again. How did it get there? Nothing has changed, of course, except the size of the ball. The argument is no less compelling. In fact, it is unassailable.

    Now blow the ball up to the size of a room, then to the size of the earth, then to the size of the Sun. Has anything changed other than the size of the ball? No.

    Now blow the ball up to the size of the universe, and spackle it with stars, clusters, and galaxies. Has the argument changed? No. The ball has just gotten larger and more decorative, that’s all. Obviously, someone put it there. Anyone who cannot grasp this is either logically or psychologically challenged.

  28. Scottrobinson:

    “So it’s intolerant bullying to want science taught in a science class is it?

    If you think creationism *is* science then I see how there might be a problem. Do you think it is science?”
    Interesting point, and I do understand we’re you’re coming from. But these people would bully anybody that supports teaching anything along side the theory of evolution if it did not support naturalism whole heartedly.

    These bullies would do the same thing even if they suggested teaching Intelligent Design theory, which is science. In fact if ID isn’t science then neither is paleontology or research programs like SETI. Funny how evolutionists would suggest that life exists on other planets if they found a signal composed in the same way as a computer code. Yet we find the same thing within the DNA of organisms, only wholesale better than our computer codes, and they posit random mutation and natural selection.

  29. StephenB:

    The analogy doesn’t hold. The only reason someone says “a ball” or “a watch” is so obviously designed is because of the contrast it has with….

    …..

    drum roll

    …..

    the natural world, which is not designed.
    http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com/

  30. Noted Scholars:

    Who said anything about an analogy? I simply asked you to ———————-drum roll—————–increase the size of the ball.

    Now explain to me how you know that the natural world wasn’t designed. Don’t send me to a website. Make your case.

  31. StephenB, as I am sure you are aware it is not possible to prove a negative. Russel’s teapot shows why.

    Currently their is no evidence that I am aware of that design took place.

  32. Interesting Darth…why did you not make your claim to NS, but only to StephenB?

  33. StephenB:

    “Who said anything about an analogy?”
    You used an analogy. Do you know what an analogy is?

    “I simply asked you to ———————-drum roll—————–increase the size of the ball.”
    No you didn’t. Nowhere did you ask me to increase the size of the ball, unless you are making even me into a metaphor. You gave an analogy, the conclusion of which was “Obviously, someone put it there.” If you don’t mean for this to be analogous to the Universe, then let me know, so I can stop wasting time on it.

    The reason why the analogy doesn’t work is because in the hypothetical ball scenario, you begged the question by making it a man-made ball, which we only know is manmade because of our posteriori knowledge of balls, added together with our recognition that things like ball and watches – in contrast to natural surrounding! – are designed by minds. This is very simple.

    “Now explain to me how you know that the natural world wasn’t designed.”
    I never said it wasn’t designed. I said that Dawkins said that if it were shown that life on earth was designed, it is inherently more plausible to suppose a designer that is like things we know of scientifically; furthermore as far as we can tell it would have to be a very evolved designer.

    So much for “unassailable.” Maybe you should take your triumphalist rhetoric somewhere else.

  34. Noted Scholar –“you cannot describe the fundamental aspects of the known Universe using the ontology of the known Universe” — This is all science does.

    No, it doesn’t. Science attempts to describe the measurable physical properties of the universe. It traditionally does not attempt to address the “nature of being” and the non-traditionalists have failed miserably when they have tried. In fact, ontology is considered a branch of metaphysics (i.e. after the physical).

    Regardless, you cannot use what we know about the physical nature of the universe to explain the fundamental aspects of it — where did it come from? What is its purpose?

    If you think you can, show us.

  35. —–Noted Scholar: “Nowhere did you ask me to increase the size of the ball.”

    Are you cuckoo! The whole idea is to blow up the ball. That I didn’t ask you to do it personally is hardly relevant.

    —– “So much for “unassailable.” Maybe you should take your triumphalist rhetoric somewhere else.

    Maybe you had better learn to reason in the abstract. Since word pictures don’t help, I will make it easy for you.

    1. Some limited, changing beings(s) exist(s).

    2. The present existence of every limited, changing being is caused by another.

    3. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes of being.

    4. Therefore, there is a first Cause of the present existence of these beings.

    5. The first Cause must be infinite, necessary, eternal, simple, unchangeable, and one.

    Find the flaw.

  36. —–Noted Scholar: “The reason why the analogy doesn’t work is because in the hypothetical ball scenario, you begged the question by making it a man-made ball………”

    Who said it was a man made ball?

  37. —–Noted Scholar: “I never said it wasn’t designed. I said that Dawkins said that if it were shown that life on earth was designed, it is inherently more plausible to suppose a designer that is like things we know of scientifically; furthermore as far as we can tell it would have to be a very evolved designer.

    You finished @29 with these exact words:

    …..”the natural world, which is not designed.”

    and you didn’t say a word about Dawkins. Don’t you follow your arguments from one blogger to another?

  38. You are correct that I said “the natural world, which is not designed.” This was in explication of your argument, which requires that things like basketballs and watches stand out as being designed.

    I have said many many words about Dawkkins – whose argument I am trying to explain as not being completely without merit. You’re objecting to that defense.

  39. Tribune:

    “In fact, ontology is considered a branch of metaphysics”
    That’s true, and is one of the many reasons why ID is not science. But it’s a good candidate for metaphysics.

    “If you think you can, show us.”
    I don’t think I can explain the “fundamental aspects,” as I don’t know what those are supposed to be. And in any case asking about the “purpose” of things is transparently loaded.

  40. NS,

    “I did provide a direct example of him making these points, in the Youtube link which contains an interview Dawkins did on NPR. He explains, very clearly, that anything sophisticated and advanced enough to create life would of course be something very evolved since the origin of the Universe. Nothing complicated about that. There’s no ad hoc principle against God there. He even says that we might be tempted to call creatures with creating powers “God.” Seems plausible, but there’s so far no reason to believe the alien story, which is why Dawkins doesn’t believe it.”

    Sorry, but yes – he has an ad hoc principle in play, and it’s evident in your own description of what he says. Any ‘designer’ is immediately limited to something that not only evolved, but evolved within our universe. The fact that he’s willing to equivocate on the word ‘God’ so that ‘God’ can mean ‘Worf’ does not rescue him from this. He’s set up a scenario such that any and all evidence, either for or against design, cannot have ‘God’ in the possibilities.

    Further, you keep bringing up the fact that Dawkins does not believe in aliens – but I’ve not said he has, nor did O’Leary in the OP. I’ve pointed out how Dawkins has arranged the playing field such that, as I’ve said, ‘there is no design, and if there is, it’s not God’. He specifically uses aliens as an ‘out’, to keep God off the table as a possibility. He doesn’t have to say he believes in aliens for him to discredit himself – it merely has to be pointed out that he clearly comes across as being willing to entertain any possibility but God. Specifically the Christian God, since there are now indications he was willing to make concession towards Deism so long as he thought it would aid him against Christianity.

    “At the very best there is no scientific way to decide between a supernatural designer or a natural designer of life on earth. We were either not designed, designed by something natural, or designed by something non-natural. It is transparently simpler to suppose we were designed by something natural – designed by the sort of thing that science deals with.”

    No, it’s not ‘transparently simpler’ just because you throw the words ‘natural’ and ‘non-natural’ around. Anymore than it’s ‘transparently simpler’ to argue the Big Bang and apparent design of fundamental constants can be explained by our being in a simulated universe rather than a universe created by God, on the grounds that you consider the programmer ‘natural’ but God ‘non-natural’.

    I’m glad you’re willing to concede that any evidence of design is evidence for a ranged of designers, among which God is one possibility. I asked for evidence of Dawkins conceding this, but I imagine this won’t be forthcoming. Further, you may want to consider this – if evolved intelligent life is found elsewhere in the universe, the results would be disastrous for orthodox darwinian theory regardless of whether or not we supposed they were involved with our OOL. It would bolster claims that evolution naturally tends towards complexity, and ultimately intelligence. Telic evolutionary frameworks can handle this easily. Non-telic metaphysical frameworks have trouble handling the evolution we already see, other than repeating the ‘We know it looks purposeful, but it wasn’t. It’s all an illusion, it’s all chance.’ mantra.

  41. StephenB again:

    “Are you cuckoo! The whole idea is to blow up the ball.”

    ….you mean in your ANALOGY?

    “Find the flaw.”
    You mean in your First Cause argument for theism? I’m aware that this is a theistic argument in philosophy. I’m not aware that it’s relevant to natural science. And if you want to know the flaws in these sorts of arguments, you may read the vast literature on this topic, which is unparalleled in size in the history of phil religion.

    “Who said it was a man made ball?”
    You did, by saying it was a basketball, which is a mass-manufactured human invention. Your argument is structurally identical to Paley’s. I’m telling you that the only reason why a basketball or a watch or anything else like that is so “obviously” designed in these settings is because we already know they are designed ahead of time. The reason why a watch in a forest is obviously designed is because it is already know to be the sort of thing that is designed, and furthermore it is in a natural context – which, for the claim to be so “obvious”, has to be different in precisely the relevant characteristic – design.

  42. Noted Scholars: Let’s slow down a little bit here. I know it’s tough to take on more than one blogger at once, so I will make allowances for that. I have been in the same spot.

    Still, try to realize that you are reading things into what I write and it is causing you a great deal of confusion. I suspect that part of it may be a carry over from other arguments from other bloggers.

    Here is an overview: There are several arguments that prove the existence of an uncaused cause. One proceeds from cause and effect, another moves from contingency to necessity, yet another moves from design to desiger, yet another moves from movement to prime mover, yet another moves from gradation of being.

    At the moment, I am arguing from contingency to necessity. So, the problem of design is not relevant for the moment. So, I will once again submit the abbreviated version of it at #35. As a bonus, I will curb the sarcasm. How does that sound?

  43. Nullasalus:

    “Sorry, but yes – he has an ad hoc principle in play”
    Which is the ad hoc principle? The theory of evolution, which says that complex lifeforms evolved from less complex lifeforms? Parsimony, which says that we shouldn’t bring in completely dissimilar ontologies as explanations when others are available? Dawkins very clearly derives his claim from these. And they are not ad hoc. Anyway, there is a sense in which God is ruled out as the explanation for life – Dawkins thinks that our current knowledge and working theories rules it out. And nowhere have I seen him assert that God is not possible, or that evidence for God is not possible. In fact, I think he has offered conditions in which he could believe in God, and kinds of evidences necessary.

    Your claim is a psychological one, where you are claiming knowledge of Dawkins’ personal intent. There isn’t much room to stoop lower.

    It’s not clear what the problem is with Dawkins not “conceding” that God is in the “range of possibilities.” First of all, he has not said that God is not in the range of possibilities. He has said that if we do find out we were designed, then our designer or designers must have been very evolved to have done so, and furthermore the kinds of things we invoke for natural objects are natural causes, so they must be extraterrestrial (or, presumably ancient and extinct or invisible, although Dawkins doesn’t say this, probably for good reason). On his basic scientific principles and factual beliefs (parsimony, evolution, etc.), there’s nothing obviously ridiculous about this.

  44. StephenB:

    In this case, why you would bring this argument into discussion as a response to anything I said is beyond me.

  45. In any case, StephenB, the same sort of objection applies to your argument. The only reason why your *analogy* works is because we have a preconceived notion that someone put the ball there. And the building. The same wouldn’t work for a rock formation. We wouldn’t ask, “Who put that there?”

    This (anti-ID) distinction is required for the arguments to be intuitively compelling.

  46. And you may say that you weren’t originally responding to me. But this is unlikely, as I am the most compelling blogger.

    http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com/

  47. NotedScholar–“In fact, ontology is considered a branch of metaphysics” . . .That’s true, and is one of the many reasons why ID is not science. But it’s a good candidate for metaphysics.

    BUT ID does not claim to be able to explain the fundamental aspects of the Universe. All it does is say that design can be determined via objective methods and when these methods are applied to the life/the universe they register a positive. And these methods are openly incapable of saying who the designer is, why the object was designed or how the object was designed.

    Further, the methodology behind ID is not beyond question. It is falsifiable although rebuttals should be based on issues relating to the methodology rather than to any metaphysics which it does not claim.

    I don’t think I can explain the “fundamental aspects,” as I don’t know what those are supposed to be. And in any case asking about the “purpose” of things is transparently loaded.

    Remember, what I took issue with way back in post 16 was the claim that somehow aliens are a more reasonable explanation for the existence of life on earth rather than something not natural (there, no metaphor)

    My point is that known natural laws cannot (as in impossible for them to) explain life hence it is less reasonable to credit aliens rather than God (and we are talking metaphysics here rather than ID or any other science).

    If you credit aliens citing known laws you then have to explain the aliens citing known laws.

    You may as well cut to the chase, and assume the creator is something that transcends natural laws.

  48. Noted Scholars:
    If you don’t care for my word picture with the ball, then throw it out. Since it is causing so many problems, including your assumption that I was talking about a man made ball (I wasn’t) or that I was presenting a design argument (I wasn’t), then throw it out.

    The point is that a first cause that is independent of the universe is a logical necessity given the fact of existence. There are five good ways to prove it. I was offering one of them to everyone on this blog who denies this being which is a first cause.

    Here iit is again:

    1. Some limited, changing beings(s) exist(s).

    2. The present existence of every limited, changing being is caused by another.

    3. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes of being.

    4. Therefore, there is a first Cause of the present existence of these beings.

    5. The first Cause must be infinite, necessary, eternal, simple, unchangeable, and one.

    Either you concede it, or you have an intellectual objection to it.

  49. NS,

    “Which is the ad hoc principle? The theory of evolution, which says that complex lifeforms evolved from less complex lifeforms? Parsimony, which says that we shouldn’t bring in completely dissimilar ontologies as explanations when others are available? Dawkins very clearly derives his claim from these. And they are not ad hoc.”

    His limitations as to what could count for evidence of God are what is ad hoc. I never said that his reasons for entertaining aliens as a possibility when faced with design were ad hoc. Look back at my posts – I haven’t objected to Dawkins simply suggesting that aliens could be a possible consideration in an instance of design. It’s that he will not concede the possibility of God in instances of design, such as the OOL. When you’re resorting to ‘Well, he said the aliens may be viewed as gods’ as a defense of this, you’re shooting blanks.

    Further, evolution? All evolution demonstrates is one route to the development of complex life. Whether said route was/is guided is an open question, and a metaphysical one. If the OOL is taken to be an instance of design, the suspicion that evolution was in turn designed/guided gains credence. Appealing to evolution to rule out God is like appealing to causal chains to rule out an origin to the universe – a nice try, but it falls flat.

    “And nowhere have I seen him assert that God is not possible, or that evidence for God is not possible. In fact, I think he has offered conditions in which he could believe in God, and kinds of evidences necessary.”

    Dawkins tries to have it both ways by at once saying he’s not arguing that he’s certain God does not exist, merely that he thinks God’s existence is improbable. He then goes on to argue that it’s so improbable, you have to be insane or stupid to entertain it as a live possibility, much less prefer it. Part of his rationale? Anything that looks like design is in fact an illusion, and should any design be demonstrated that even he can’t deny, it could be attributed to aliens. If you don’t see the problem with that sort of reasoning – particularly when he’s raised the stakes from not merely disbelieving, not merely arguing that disbelief is rationale or more justifiable by his view, but that those who disagree with him are mentally deficient (And not ‘Brights’) – then the problem is yours.

    “Your claim is a psychological one, where you are claiming knowledge of Dawkins’ personal intent. There isn’t much room to stoop lower.”

    I have this funny belief that you can many times discern a person’s intent based on what they say, how they act, and how they write. I stand by what I’ve said – and I think the strength of the accusation is considerable, based on Dawkins’ own words, not unwarranted speculation of his psychology.

    Incidentally – the fact that you’re testily accusing me of psychoanalyzing Dawkins, a man who routinely writes off those who disagree with him as stupid, poisonous, or worse (in other words, he’s not at all shy about not merely speculating about the psychology of his opponents, but loudly proclaiming the actual state of them) is nothing short of hilarious. We’re all grown ups here, indeed.

    “It’s not clear what the problem is with Dawkins not “conceding” that God is in the “range of possibilities.” First of all, he has not said that God is not in the range of possibilities. He has said that if we do find out we were designed, then our designer or designers must have been very evolved to have done so, and furthermore the kinds of things we invoke for natural objects are natural causes, so they must be extraterrestrial (or, presumably ancient and extinct or invisible, although Dawkins doesn’t say this, probably for good reason). On his basic scientific principles and factual beliefs (parsimony, evolution, etc.), there’s nothing obviously ridiculous about this.”

    As I asked – if you insist that Dawkins believes God is in the range of possibilities, such that evidence of design of this nature would qualify as evidence for God, show me him saying as much. I would love to see it, even with him stipulating that he does not believe in God, or design, or even aliens for that matter. It would amount to a concession, a change from his past remarks.

    Further, ‘very evolved’ indicates straightaway where Dawkins is fixing his standard. Back to the start: There is no design, and even if there is, it’s not God. Not even ‘Dawkins does not believe it’s God’ but ‘Dawkins believes if you’re open to this as a serious possibility, you’re beyond rational discourse’. Because clearly a hallmark of rationality is to recognize the supreme utility of aliens when faced with design.

  50. I like how design is looked upon as less than evolution despite evolution not being proven, and how God is looked at as less than aliens, yet aliens have not been proven either.

    Given evolution or design, we have more repeated instances of design over evolution.

    We have no reason to believe aliens could even exist philosophically, yet we have reasons to believe that an eternal, powerful being exists philosophically speaking.

    In either case, design and God are more easily defended.

  51. AND: we do not have evidence that aliens exist scientifically either.

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