Well, what else would you expect from the radical left? They’ll attack with extreme prejudice anything remotely associated with the right.
From the article, Owen Williamson writes:
“It is fascinating to observe that ID advocates nowhere dare to claim that our Ã¢â‚¬Å“intelligently designedÃ¢â‚¬Â universe is perfect or even moderately well functioning. Pointing out the obvious, that hurricanes, smallpox, Scooter Libby, appendicitis or bird flu have no logical place in an intelligently designed universe fails to faze them, probably because the fragile artificial tissue of ID theory was never intended to stand up under hard questioning in the first place. ”
Owens tries to negate a scientific conclusion with a philosophical idea. That’s bad science.
That said, let me address the philosophical issue, as it is one that comes up frequently in almost every IDEA meeting. Formally speaking, my answer is not a scientific one, but a personal one. The reader can judge for himself the merits of my philosophical speculations. I offer them nonethless because in the interest of furthering the science of ID, I wish to give some remedy to the philosophical objections which impede some people from accepting scientific conclusions of ID.
The following represent my personal views. I do not insist that anyone else accept them, but I offer them to show that I do not shy away from Williamson’s challenge. Here goes:
One might speculate that the greatest and most interesting dramas, the ones with the most “perfect” endings have negative characters and difficult challenges to overcome. A possible answer for “bad design” is that this universe is only a chapter in a larger drama. The Divine drama has villains and then a Hero who overcomes impossible odds and gets the girl in the end by rescuing her out of perilous circumstances. Such a story line is fully consistent with our intuitive ideas of what is a good and perfect story.
We find even in human affairs, that if challenges and difficulties don’t exist, we often design obstacles for ourselves to make life interesting. Perhaps the Designer for His amusement and good pleasure created a world which had the potential to challenge Him, to give Him an opportunity to show His stuff!
Perhaps these intuition, the storylines of love and war and of impossible odds which so fascinate us, are not an accident to our psyche. Perhaps the queen of evoluiontary enigmas, the enigmas of male and female, the peculiar behaviors and rituals we see in biological reality have no explanation whatsoever in terms of reproductive success, but are rather images, small hints of the Divine drama.
When I see the monarch butterfly, which starts as a wormy caterpillar and then liquifies itself only to be ressurected to a butterfly capable of awe inspiring flight and navigation, I have to seriously question if the Darwinian view can even come close to giving an adequate scientific answer, much less an adequate philosophical answer. Or how about the male redback spider who gives its body and blood to his bride so that new life will arise in her? Evolutionary explanations seem to give the most empty answers as to why, but they make perfect sense in a world where biotic reality was designed to convey illustrations of higher reality…
Is a picture merely ink and paper or something more? When a man and woman fall in love, is it purely chemical, or like ink and paper, does it symbolize a greater principle that is a the core of reality?
Does Williamson believe this world is some pointless accident? No wonder the Darwinian view is so unpopular.
Furthermore, would a Perfect Designer design things as perfect and all powerful as Himself, and thus compromise His Supremacy? Or would He rather choose to make them less than Himself? Would He design man to be so perfect than Man will presume He is equal to God. Or instead, will the Designer make Man less than himself, and design constant reminders within Man that he is not God?
And finally, if Williamson admits that he is part of a flawed universe, by what criteria then can he pretend to be an adequate judge of what should be perfect?
“Marxist Thought Online”
Who’d have guessed? 😉
They can feel the heat, Professor.
Freud, Marx, and Darwin. The three pillars of western modernism.
Two down, one to go.
“Freud, Marx, and Darwin. [three pix in the front ] The three pillars of western modernism.
Two down, one to go. [this in the back]”
-Have you thought of putting that on a t-shit Dave ?
I disagree with Freud, Marx, and Darwin but sincerely I have never liked the argument of “well, Freud and Marx fell, so it will happen also with Darwin”.
Indeed, Marx is far from disappear in the mid-term and Freud courses in universities tend to be among the most popular.
This comes closest, I think, to the real issue Williamson is attempting to address. Williamson’s statement is little more than a re-statement of the oft used argument that ubiquitous examples of sub-optimal design in nature indicate that there was no actual design in the first place. Forget the philosophy, this argument can be addressed scientifically: all we need is the scientific criterion for optimal design as applied to a natural system. After all, the claim “…that hurricanes, smallpox, Scooter Libby, appendicitis or bird flu have no logical place in an intelligently designed universe…”, implies that Williamson must have some idea of what an optimally designed universe would look and what components it would and would not contain. Well, where we can we find this standard of optimality? Can we observe it somewhere? If not, has someone, somewhere provided a scientific means by which we can determined what an optimally designed natural system looks like? Where can we find the research studies that provide this criterion in the peer reviewed science journals? If we have no such studies, and science has no actual definition of optimal when it comes to natural systems, then Williamson’s argument, and similar claims made by other anti-ID folk are little more than subjective prejudice.
Frankly, I don’t see any way to actully respond to Williamson’s article. It’s little more than an elaborate “you’re ugly, and your mother dresses you funny” kind of statement. He certainly isn’t relying on anything even remotely resembling logic and reason, let alone evidence or data. When will these guys learn that ad hominems and straw men do not an argument make?
I’m pretty sure anyone who begins their piece on ID with “scam” in the title already has their mind made up and reason need not apply.
“And finally, if Williamson admits that he is part of a flawed universe, by what criteria then can he pretend to be an adequate judge of what should be perfect?”
Voila! Tu as raison! (as David Berlinski would say)
I am a big admirerer of Salvador (what an appropriate name). He is very insightful, expresses his ideas with much clarity, thoughtfulness and inventiveness, and he has a nose for self-refuting logic. On top of that, you can just detect that he is a very nice person at heart.
Self-refuting arguments and logic are SOP in both the scientific and metaphysical anti-ID world, and the biggest of them is:
“Only ideas supported by scientific investigation can be trusted.”
Is this idea supported by scientific investigation? Is there no distrust of this assumption?
But I digress.
Go to the following link and check out Phillip Johnson’s lectures. I had an opportunity to meet him briefly once, and was very impressed.
P.S.: If God were good, and designed the universe the way it should have been designed, He wouldn’t have made me work so hard to learn how to solve those blasted differential equations!
Not to get into ad hominem (the flaws in his article have been seen elsewhere and refuted time and again–please give me something new!): http://www.clandestineradio.co.....iamson.php
The professor is one heck of a Marxist.
How is “God of the gaps” different from “Darwin of the gaps”? You point out any system that can’t be blindly built step-by-step and they just go to the Darwin of the gaps. That seems like an unfalsifiable faith-based stance to me.
geoffrobinson: How is Ã¢â‚¬Å“God of the gapsÃ¢â‚¬Â different from Ã¢â‚¬Å“Darwin of the gapsÃ¢â‚¬Â?
It’s like this: There are things science currently explains, and things science currently doesn’t explain.
The “God of the Gaps” argument is basically: “If science can’t explain something today, then that suggests that the Hand of God is directly involved. If that’s true then science will never be able to explain it, and in fact trying to find a naturalistic cause would be sinful.”
The converse is: “Well, we don’t understand this today, and maybe we’ll never understand it, but let’s research it and see if we can identify a naturalistic cause. I mean, it’s not like we’ve got anything better to do with our time!”
Basically the problem with the “God of the Gaps”-style argument is that it’s lazy. People who make that argument run the risk of being proven wrong by people who are more industrious than they are.
Now, it might be that the gaps in evolution really are the Hand of God, and so scientists are wasting their time looking for naturalistic explanations. But I think we should give them a chance to try. I mean, they did a good job of proving that the Sun isn’t Apollo’s chariot, and that lightning isn’t Thor’s hammer. Evolution is a harder problem, so they’ll need a lot more time to work on it.
As an example, Dr. Neil Omerod, professor of theology at Australian Catholic University, recently wrote a scathing critique of ID entitled Ã¢â‚¬Å“How Design Supporters Insult GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Intelligence,Ã¢â‚¬Â In his article, published in the Sydney Morning Herald of November 15, 2005, Omerod points out that ID is Ã¢â‚¬Å“just a more sophisticated version of so-called Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcreation science,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ which is poor theology and poor science. . . .
How ironic to get a theologian to tell us just how bad a scientific idea ID is.
DonaldM: “This comes closest, I think, to the real issue Williamson is attempting to address. WilliamsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement is little more than a re-statement of the oft used argument that ubiquitous examples of sub-optimal design in nature indicate that there was no actual design in the first place.”
I can’t remember: Was the 1959 Edsel designed?
The world is a mess. That is why I favor two designers (Gods), both long dead, one benevolent, the other malevolent. It makes things so much easier to comprehend don’t you know?
Where does this “ID theory” come from? Intelligent design is neither theory nor hypothesis but undeniable reality revealed in every aspect of both the animate and inanimate worlds. To question it in the first place is unthinkable and it certainly never should have been presented as a subject for debate. It is an intellectual mandate pure and simple and chance never had anything to do with any of it. Have I made myself clear?
“Where does this Ã¢â‚¬Å“ID theoryÃ¢â‚¬Â come from?”
Aristotle, Paley, Dembski, Behe… among others.
“Intelligent design is … undeniable reality revealed in every aspect of both the animate and inanimate worlds.”
I would agree. It is very telling that one must work so hard to explain away the obvious (e.g., postulating undetectable multiverses to explain away cosmological fine tuning, and postulating hopelessly improbable processes like random mutations as the engine of biological innovation). These efforts scream desperation not to accept an obvious but philosophically unacceptable conclusion.
Was the 1959 Edsel designed?
Yes, but not very intelligently. 🙂
scordova: “…let me address the philosophical issue, as it is one that comes up frequently in almost every IDEA meeting….’bad design’ ”
I suspect the reason for this is that in about the late teens, people tend to think that they’re perfect and know everything. Most soon discover otherwise. (It seems that atheists, being perfect and knowing everything, similarly seem to have a hard time accepting “non-optimal” design.)
scordova: “Furthermore, would a Perfect Designer design things as perfect and all powerful as Himself, and thus compromise His Supremacy? Or would He rather choose to make them less than Himself? Would He design man to be so perfect than Man will presume He is equal to God. Or instead, will the Designer make Man less than himself, and design constant reminders within Man that he is not God?”
Thanks for this.
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