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Philosopher: How Shermer is pulling a fast one in his debate with Flannery on Wallace

Readers will recall the ongoing debate between Wallace biographers Michael Shermer and Michael Flannery: “Resolved: If He Were Alive Today, Alfred Russel Wallace Would Be an Intelligent Design Advocate.” A philosopher listened to Michael Shermer’s assertion:

If they [IDers] want to do science, however, they must provide testable hypothesis about how they think God (or the Intelligent Designer — ID) did it. [...] Did ID intervene in the natural world at the level of species or genus? Did ID intervene at the Cambrian explosion or before?

, and writes to say,

A perfect example of questions based on anti-metaphysical scientism. A key point in them is the in term in “did ID intervene in /em> the natural world”. Such a term implies ignorance of traditional metaphysics.

The Principle of the cosmos doesn’t intervene in the cosmos, for the simple fact that the cosmos is in its Principle. The cosmos never gets out its Principle.

So there is no such thing as an “intervention” here. Intervention would mean that the First Cause is not continually and totally in charge of its effect (the cosmos). It would mean that the cosmos is going its own way and sometimes its Cause says “Oh, it’s time I attend to my effect somehow, I have neglected it so much”.

No. The effect exists only thanks to its cause, a cause that seeks to manifest it
inside itself. The continue existence of the effect is due one hundred per cent to the continued being of its cause.

So to ask “Did ID intervene in the natural world at the level of species? Did ID intervene at the Cambrian explosion?” is like asking when intelligence intervenes when a thinker thinks. In a sense always and never, because the thinker’s intelligence pre-exists all his thoughts. Any of them is only a transitory manifestation of that intelligence, which contains potentially all thoughts. Analogously the entire universe is only an infinitesimal thought in the Divine Mind.

Shermer and his like want us to play a game: They first deny metaphysics and then ask questions answerable only by metaphysics. So they are sure to win. The only solution is to show that they cheat.

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8 Responses to Philosopher: How Shermer is pulling a fast one in his debate with Flannery on Wallace

  1. If they [IDers] want to do science, however, they must provide testable hypothesis about how they think God (or the Intelligent Designer — ID) did it.

    But Mike, the “how” comes after the determination of design. You would think a person of science would understand this basic tenet of science.

    Stonehenge-> design determined -> still working on the how, why, who

    Puma Punku-> design determined -> still working on the how, why, who

    That said in order to pin the design on a specific agency is does help to know said angency’s capabilities. However you may only have the object/ structure/ event in question to go by.

    How do we know someone had the capability to design and build Stonehenge? -> Stonehenge

    No one would believe the people from 2000+ years ago could design and construct a device like the Antikythera mechanism if we didn’t find it. So now we know they had that capability.

    Geez you would think a scientist would understand that.

    Just sayin’…

  2. Isn’t the philosopher making the assumption that the intelligent designer = God? We’re constantly told that ID makes no assumption about the designer, but our anonymous philosopher seems to be assuming that the designer is the first cause”. I guess that rules out space aliens.

  3. How many multiverses would fit on the head of a pin, Mr Schermer.

    “Shermer and his like want us to play a game..”

    It used to be, ‘according to Hoyle’; now its ‘according to Hawkins.’

    They’re card sharps all right. But dumb with it.

  4. How about Hawkins proferring that the universe might have been created by a principle or a law… An abstract concept! And he’s one of their Titans….

    Pass the popcorn. This should be fun.

  5. If they [IDers] want to do science, however, they must provide testable hypothesis about how they think God (or the Intelligent Designer — ID) did it. [...] Did ID intervene in the natural world at the level of species or genus? Did ID intervene at the Cambrian explosion or before?

    And yet, evolutionists can’t tell us which evolutionary mechanism allegedly produced all life on earth as we know it. They demand different rules of others that they themselves don’t and can’t adhere to. They disagree about the evidence/lack of evidence for darwin’s myth (is there a ‘mountain of it’ there favourite motto, or is it missing, as Margulis admitted???

    Also, whenever they are ‘surprised’ by the evidence (which seems to happen regularly) they just attribute it to darwinian evolution and claim they have ‘more to learn’ about it. Was evolution slow and gradual, or punctuated?
    Oh that’s right…it’s both, because it can do anything that it needs to do depending on what the data shows. It has become ‘the blob’ of science. Why so many people don’t realize this is a worldview/cult and not science, is beyond me.

  6. Joe,

    Stonehenge-> design determined -> still working on the how, why, who
    Puma Punku-> design determined -> still working on the how, why, who

    Yes, questions of how, why, and “who” (the names of people involved?) are secondary. We know that human beings were present at the time these were built, so everybody agrees that human beings were responsible.

    That said in order to pin the design on a specific agency is does help to know said angency’s capabilities.

    “Agency” is a term from philosophy (mainly moral philosophy and philosophy of mind). It is also used in sociology, where it refers to people (human beings) in social systems. It is not a term used in biology, physics, or the cognitive sciences.

    In ID, the term “agency” is used to refer to a hypothetical class of beings who share mental and physical abilities with human beings. The non-human members of this class must either be (1) extra-terrestrial life forms, or (2) things that are not life forms (i.e. are not themselves what we are trying to explain, viz. physical organisms containing high levels of CSI). We have no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms exist. Neither do we have any evidence anything exists that has mental and physical abilities like (or exceeding) those of human beings but is not a living organism.

    In order to propose a meaningful hypothesis for the origin of life, ID needs to specify enough for us to go about deciding if this cause actually exists or not.

    How do we know someone had the capability to design and build Stonehenge? -> Stonehenge

    In the case of Stonehenge, we know human beings were around, so we assume it was “someone” (some human being) rather than “something”. In the case of the first living things, we know that human beings were not around, so we don’t know if it was a “someone” or a “something” that was responsible.

    So in the case of OOL, we know that whatever was the cause of first life had the capability to cause first life, but we don’t know anything else. In other words, we don’t know anything about it at all.

  7. Ironically, the term, God of the Gaps fits their ‘evamalution’ perfectly. A god made in their own, amorphous, endlessly shape-changing image.

    Our ‘scientismificist’ friends cannot accept the mysteries of paradoxes in physics, never mind religion, so they always allude to them, not as ‘counter-rational’, but as ‘counter-intuitive’.

    In their desperation, they will freely and without the least compunction, conjure out of the air the false paradoxes we term, ‘oxymorons’, e.g. their infinity of ‘multiverses’, which void intelligibility itself of meaning.

    They must be looking at the design of everything, and trying really hard to think up a word for ‘design’ which doesn’t actually mean ‘design’, but means kind of random assemblages of things, resembling designs even of the most sophisticated intricacy, but are only designs insofar as they challenge their comprehension.

    Most human beings use their intelligence to comprehend the world, but that comes dangerously close to suggesting a designed or planned intelligibility therein, and a threat to their elegantly random chaos.

    Incidentally, it’s curious that another component of their reductionism is their seemingly exclusive invocation of ‘elegance’ qua ‘simplicity’.

    ‘Beauty’, as in the ‘aesthetic’ criterion upon which Einstein asserted that he based his hypotheses, sounds so ‘unscientismifical’, doesn’t it? How could beauty be studied under laboratory conditions, still less empirically verified. But, heck, a simple equation or a mathematical formula…. that’s more like it! Even if it’s as wrong as a verbal oxymoron. Phew! Another close call avoided.

  8. AIG:

    Re: questions of how, why, and “who” (the names of people involved?) are secondary. We know that human beings were present at the time these were built, so everybody agrees that human beings were responsible . . . . “Agency” is a term from philosophy (mainly moral philosophy and philosophy of mind). It is also used in sociology, where it refers to people (human beings) in social systems. It is not a term used in biology, physics, or the cognitive sciences . . .

    This is utterly, and inadvertently revealing:

    1 –> Right off, if the cognitive sciences do not reckon with the reality of agency, they are showing such an abundant closed-mindedness that they are refusing to recognise one of the most salient characteristics of cognition, i.e that even they themselves as cognitive agents, are conscious subjects and agents.

    2 –> Similarly, last I checked, we are biological beings, and are conscious agents, which needs to be addressed if biology is to deal with highly material facts of reality. Or, has science now become materialist ideology dressed up in the holy lab coat?

    3 –> As for physics, last I checked, thought experiments are an important part of the development of modern physics, which relies through and through on cognitive and conscious agents. There is even a whole set of issues linked to the evident fine tuning of the observed — oops, agents in action again, no, no tut tut . . . — cosmos.

    4 –> More directly, when we turn from addressing the patterns that show mechanical necessity and/or chance in action, we find that here are also empirically observable, tested and found reliable signs that point to ART-ificial cause, i.e. to design. As Stonehenge etc so strongly highlight.

    5 –> That is, if we are to scientifically study the world with the objects and events and processes in it in accordance with the truth, we have to reckon with the reality and acts of agency, indeed without that we cannot do either science or mathematics, engineering and computing, its handmaidens. I stress this because without these, we have no effective science.

    6 –> Next, we turn to the question of origins of the cosmos, our solar system, life in it, body plans, and mind [which BTW also includes morals]. To claim to study such scientifically, is to claim to study the past on observable facts, processes and signs in the present that can credibly account for the origin in question as best empirically anchored, truth-oriented explanation.

    7 –> Now, we happen to know that functionally specific, complex organisation and related — sometimes, digitally coded — information is a feature of our world, as common as the posts in this thread and the computers on which we are reading them.

    8 –> In our experience, and observation, reliably, such FSCO/I reliably comes from ART-ifice, i.e design. The whole internet, for just one instance, stands in testimony to that.

    9 –> We have every right of reasonable induction, to infer that such FSCO/I is a strong sign of design as cause. At any rate, as candidate cause.

    10 –> In addition, we observe that FSCO/I implies high contingency of arrangement of components, beyond the search capacity of the solar system or even the observable cosmos, on blind chance and mechanical necessity, the other two well warranted causal patterns.

    11 –> So, we have only one empirically adequate causal explanation for FSCO/I. So, when we see it in the living cell, we have every reason to infer that this is a sign that points to design as best explanation, or at any rate as a serious candidate explanation.

    12 –> Unless, we have reason to know on separate warrant in advance that designing agency is IMPOSSIBLE in the causal context. Which, pace a priori Lewontinian materialism, is precisely what we do not know about the context of origin of life or body plans including our own.

    13 –> That is, we can only rule out the possibility of agency in that context by refusing to entertain the otherwise most obvious candidate causal explanation.

    ________

    In short, you are patently begging the question.

    GEM of TKI

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