"If God has designed organisms, he has a lot to account for," says biologist.

|

The anti-evolution "documentary" Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (which alerts viewers to its subject matter with its subtitle), opened little more than a week ago. Supporters are claiming that its opening weekend is either "the second largest gross box office receipts on opening weekend of any political documentary ever" and/or it "is now #26 on the all-time box office list of documentaries. Among those documentaries, only Fahrenheit 9/11 and Tupac The Resurection had better opening weekends." Total receipts for the weekend: $3.2 million.

http://thegoont.com/files/dino_fire.jpg

One the movie's shticks is to grill atheist advocates of biological evolution as a way to warn viewers about the corrosive effects on science on religious belief. But are faith and reason incompatible? Not all scientists think so.

The New York Times has a nice profile of evolutionary biologist, National Academy of Sciences member, and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Francisco Ayala who spends a great deal of time trying to explain evolutionary biology to the public. From the Times profile:

Dr. Ayala, a former Dominican priest, said he told his audiences not just that evolution is a well-corroborated scientific theory, but also that belief in evolution does not rule out belief in God. In fact, he said, evolution "is more consistent with belief in a personal god than intelligent design. If God has designed organisms, he has a lot to account for."

Consider, he said, that at least 20 percent of pregnancies are known to end in spontaneous abortion. If that results from divinely inspired anatomy, Dr. Ayala said, "God is the greatest abortionist of them all."

Or consider, he said, the "sadism" in parasites that live by devouring their hosts, or the mating habits of insects like female midges, tiny flies that fertilize their eggs by consuming their mates' genitals, along with all their other parts.

For the midges, Dr. Ayala said, "it makes evolutionary sense. If you are a male and you have mated, the best thing you can do for your genes is to be eaten." But if God or some other intelligent agent made things this way on purpose, he said, "then he is a sadist, he certainly does odd things and he is a lousy engineer."

That is also the message of his latest book, "Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion" (Joseph Henry Press, 2007). In it, he writes that as a theology student in Spain he had been taught that evolution "provided the 'missing link' in the explanation of evil in the world" โ€” a defense of God's goodness and omnipotence, despite the existence of evil.

"As floods and drought were a necessary consequence of the fabric of the physical world, predators and parasites, dysfunctions and diseases were a consequence of the evolution of life," he writes. "They were not a result of a deficient or malevolent design."

Despite his religious training, the Times notes:

Dr. Ayala will not say whether he remains a religious believer.

My review of Expelled here. Some of my thoughts on the two non-overlapping magisteria argument. The Times' Ayala profile here.

Addendum: Charles Darwin was also troubled by the cruelty of nature. He cited the example of the ichneumon wasp which paralyzes caterpillars live and lays its eggs in them. Its offspring then dine off the tasty live caterpillars as they mature. In his 1860 letter to Asa Gray, Darwin wrote: 

"With respect to the theological view of the question: This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically, but I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars or that a cat should play with mice… On the other hand, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance." 

NEXT: I Can't Afford the Gas for My Luxury Limousine!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I LOVE that photoshopped picture. Jesus riding fire breathing dinosaurs. Historically accurate and easy on the eyes.

  2. he certainly does odd things and he is a lousy engineer

    Whoever designed the human knee did not foresee the NFL.

  3. “. . . as a theology student in Spain he had been taught that evolution ‘provided the “missing link” in the explanation of evil in the world’ – a defense of God’s goodness and omnipotence, despite the existence of evil.”

    So the guy was taught – by his theology instructors in superstious, backward Spain – that evolution was not only true, but a confirmation of Catholic theology.

  4. I agree with Ayala that belief in evolution does not rule out belief in God. I personally have no problem believing both.

    However, his other comments make no sense. For one thing, evolution doesnt contradict the concept of God “doing things on purpose”. Also, I dont see how the examples he gives leads to “then [God] is a sadist, he certainly does odd things and he is a lousy engineer.”

    To reach that conclusion, you have to anthropomorphise the animals he is discussing. Which would be stupid.

  5. I’m an atheist, but I have a number of fundamentalist acquaintances. The common response to this is that God designed everything perfectly, and then everything fucked up after the fall.

  6. Ethan,

    Whoever designed the human knee did not foresee the NFL.

    Ive said for a few years that the reason for the large number of QB injuries in the NFL is the rules not allowing them to be hit like other players. We have evolved wussy QBs. Allow them to be hit and we will end up with QBs that can take a hit.

  7. So God does play dice with the universe?

  8. Allow them to be hit and we will end up with QBs that can take a hit.

    Cause the ones who can only throw the ball will all be in traction?

  9. No, god plays solitaire with the universe.
    Make of it what you will…

    Or, if you prefer, whatever god’s doing, it amounts to playing with himself.

    hugs,
    Shirley Knott

  10. Cause the ones who can only throw the ball will all be in traction?

    Thats how evolution works. Survival of the fittest and all that.

  11. fyodor,

    No, but He, Zeus and Thor did get caught by Buddha in a pretty embarrassing game of Twister once.

  12. Given the 400 plus thread on religion vs. reason yesterday, will this thread evolve into a similarly long thread, or be an evolutionary dead-end?

    Science erodes religion?

    Does that mean religion erodes science?

  13. Why didn’t the makers of the movie interview Prof. Ken Miller? As far as I know he is both religious (a Catholic) and a proponent of evolution?

  14. Ooops, the last sentence shouldn’t have a question mark on it obviously.

  15. Science erodes religion?

    Science debunks superstition. If you include religion in the superstion category, yes.

    Does that mean religion erodes science?

    Hinders, not eroses. And not all theists do even that. Gregor Mendel and Isaac Newton come immediately to mind.

  16. Personally, as a Christian with a sense of humor about the universe, I see the “cruelty” inherent in nature as God’s way of keeping himself amused. After all, if we fall short of our creator’s ideal, he’s still got a Plan B. There’s quite a few things in nature that we would consider simply savage (although I’m sure the anthropologists will swoop in any moment to say how that’s just an artifact of our own perspective)… and the variety of them is absolutely stunning.

  17. Calidore: I think you answered your own question ๐Ÿ˜‰ The premise behind Expelled is anti-science and anti-intellectualism. In their view, a book that has been written by various authors over millenia and (mis)translated numerous times takes precedence over any sort of reality extrapolated by actually observing natural forces at work.

  18. I wish there was some way to make it a crime to label a piece of propaganda a “documentary”.

    Reason and faith are incompatible if you’re doing it right.

  19. Also, I dont see how the examples he gives leads to “then [God] is a sadist, he certainly does odd things and he is a lousy engineer.”

    To reach that conclusion, you have to anthropomorphise the animals he is discussing. Which would be stupid.

    Huh? It’s only sadism if a human is involved, because only humans can experience pain?

  20. Religion seems to have evolved due to man’s need to explain his enviroment. Science explains our enviroment better so religious adherents claim that science is out to disprove god and is therefore bad.

  21. Warren,

    Thanks for solving that age-old question in only 11 words.

    You should publish it.

  22. Calidore:

    the makers of the movie pretty much admitted they didn’t interview religious evolutionary biologists because it would conflict with the message of the movie, i.e. distorting the truth in the name of an intelligent designer who really is the Christian God, but if they admitted that they’d never get their doctrine snuck into science curricula

    I believe I read that on the website “Expelled Exposed”

  23. A bit vague on my part, so I apoligize.

  24. Theists are subhuman. Even small children are able to grasp fundamental principles of evolution before their minds are polluted by adults. Religious indoctrination is one of mankind’s greatest crimes and religion is its greatest curse.

  25. Neu Mejican,

    Don’t forget to tell him to use citations. Been going around lately so I’ll parrot the issue.

  26. Mike Laursen,

    Huh? It’s only sadism if a human is involved, because only humans can experience pain?

    The existence of pain (in humans or animals) doesnt imply sadism. The pain involved (in say a female insect eating her mate) isnt pain for pain’s sake, there is a reason behind it. It would only seems like sadism because that specific pain isnt necessary within humans. Also, do the male midges actually feel any pain upon being eaten? For higher animals, their is obviously pain upon being killed and eaten, but Im not sure the same exists in this case.

    There is plenty of pain outside the human race. I dont see any that exists for the enjoyment of the creator. No sadism here.

    I was referring more to the odd and lousy engineer bits, but the same applies. Using, once again, the eating of the male mate, it is only odd or bad engineering by applying human standards. On the engineering side, it seems very efficient, in fact.

  27. the innominate one,

    If that is the case then that is pretty lame.

  28. Of course, Mr. Bailey commits the fundamental error of believing there’s any rationality or science behind evolution.

  29. I like the line … he is a lousy engineer

    Troy has learned tags…. thanks to this cool libertarian web site.

    Where is my cookie?

  30. I agree with Ayala that belief in evolution does not rule out belief in God. I personally have no problem believing both.

    But it does present problems for the biblical account of things. One could accept that contradiction and rationalize the bible’s account as “it’s just a story that God put forth at a time when people weren’t advanced enough to understand the real truth” (I’ve heard that argument many times from some of the more rational believers.). However, then one also has to admit that evolution theory seems to expose God as less than all-powerful, cold and uncaring. Why else would he need to use evolution as his method of creation when that is such a slow and painful process apparently involving a vast number of “proto-species” who live out their entire lives for generation after generation for the sole purpose of forming some other species?

    To believe both in both evolution and a creator requires either endless rationalization or apathy.

  31. Ed,

    A belief system is an element present in all humans. Including the belief you stated above regarding all theists.

  32. Why else would he need to use evolution as his method of creation when that is such a slow and painful process apparently involving a vast number of “proto-species” who live out their entire lives for generation after generation for the sole purpose of forming some other species?

    To believe both in both evolution and a creator requires either endless rationalization or apathy.

    You may consider my answer to the question “endless rationalization” but I will give it a try (the other option, to not answer, would be taken as “apathy” ๐Ÿ™‚ ). BTW, I have no idea if Im right or not.

    God doesnt want humans to be static. So, if we are going to evolve from this point on, we need a method of doing it. Having us, and other species, develop via evolution, including the proto-species, allows us to study what has happened, so we know what is happening going forward and can even help shape humanity.

    Then again, I may just be a crank. I have argued for nearly 20 years that the wave-particle duality of light exists so that we can understand the duality of free choice-predestination. Correct that, so that I can understand it. It may have been done that way just for me.

  33. The football analogy isn’t working for me. To propogate a species of star quarterbacks, the ones that can’t take a hit would need to have their genitals torn off.

  34. I have not seen god; I have seen Santa Claus; therefore I believe….

  35. Isn’t it about time for Mad Max to mention how many people Stalin killed?

  36. And the anti-religion-bigotry-fest continues. I’ve tired of wishing for balanced religitarian reporting here on Reason.

    Consider, he said, that at least 20 percent of pregnancies are known to end in spontaneous abortion. If that results from divinely inspired anatomy, Dr. Ayala said, “God is the greatest abortionist of them all.”

    Or, as any little sunday school kid could tell you, another option is that we live in a Fallen world, and that death, and sickness happen as a result of a broken universe. Perhaps these broken cosmic shards are not the way everything was intended. They show enough design to give us a picture of how things might have been.

  37. Females are bitches.
    Blacks are monkeys
    Hispanics are spics

    Oh, wait all of those statements are bigoted and offensive. I should be venting my hatred and stereotypes on religious people instead.

    Fucking cosmotarians.

  38. Why else would he need to use evolution as his method of creation when that is such a slow and painful process apparently involving a vast number of “proto-species” who live out their entire lives for generation after generation for the sole purpose of forming some other species?

    That presumes that God created the universe for the express purpose of creating human beings. It might be that the creation of intelligent life is only a serendipitous by-product. The motives of God for creating the universe (if indeed he did so) are a problem for any theist, but if I were God and were floating alone in a non-spacetime (or whatever preceded the universe) I think that I’d want to create something, just for company.

    My guess is that God created the universe, set the rules, and sat back to watch what happened. Intelligent life may have been the intention, but the exact form of such life was intended to be outside of his control. The surprise was part of the plan.

  39. Or, as any little sunday school kid could tell you, another option is that we live in a Fallen world, and that death, and sickness happen as a result of a broken universe. Perhaps these broken cosmic shards are not the way everything was intended. They show enough design to give us a picture of how things might have been.

    The problem is that “the world is fallen” explains nothing. Any poor design that argues against intelligent design is explained as a result of fallen-ness, and any good design is explained as evidence of intelligent design. There’s no possible evidence that counts against your theory, so we’re basically done arguing already.

  40. Actually, jj, the universe and the physical laws that govern it are quite elegant. You might see more of your God out there if you take some time to do research instead of attributing everything to a “Fallen” world.

  41. The existence of pain (in humans or animals) doesnt imply sadism. The pain involved (in say a female insect eating her mate) isnt pain for pain’s sake, there is a reason behind it.

    No, silly. No one is saying that the insects are sadists. The insects are just being themselves. They are the ones with a “reason” to inflict the pain.

    The one with no reason to inflict the pain is God. God is the one who is a sadist, if every creature existing reflects his intended design. If he can create whatever he wants, every aspect of creation reflects part of his choice. He could have designed those insects in some other way and decided not to.

    Or, as any little sunday school kid could tell you, another option is that we live in a Fallen world, and that death, and sickness happen as a result of a broken universe. Perhaps these broken cosmic shards are not the way everything was intended. They show enough design to give us a picture of how things might have been.

    We’re talking about reconciling the available evidence to a theory of creation, and whether intelligent design is more compatible with traditional views of God than evolution is.

    That means we have to deal with the fossil record we’ve got, and not some fantasy one that we would have had if the fall hadn’t happened.

    The intelligent designers and the creationists look at the fossil record and look at biology and say, “We see here evidence that all this was designed by an intelligent creator.”

    If that intelligent creator had created something different, that should also be part of the available evidence for intelligent design. Where are the fossils of all the perfect animals that came temporally before the fall?

    The whole point here is that grasping on to intelligent design theory makes the Christian template of God less likely, not more. Because if you accept the premises of intelligent design, a different God than the Christian one seems to fit that act of creation best.

    The reason this is amusing is because the entire reason intelligent design theory exists is as a post hoc rationalization to attempt to protect belief in the Christian God.

  42. Biblical literalism is an evolutionary dead end.

  43. Actually, jj, the universe and the physical laws that govern it are quite elegant. You might see more of your God out there if you take some time to do research instead of attributing everything to a “Fallen” world.

    Bingo, I’m a med student with a degree in computer science, and a post-baccalaureate in biology, including evolutionary biology. I’m not against evolution per se. The evidence for design is resoundingly clear to me. To stereotype religious people who believe in intelligent design (the vast majority of scientists and philosophers in history) as knuckle-dragging idiots, is to me silly, sad, and shows a level of paranoia that makes me wonder about the bigots’ supreme certainty.

  44. death and sickness happen as a result of a broken universe

    Poor jj. The universe is neither cruel nor benevolent. It is neutral.
    It wasn’t made by anyone and is thus incapable of caring.
    But all we have to do is think, and we master it.

  45. Religion has always struck me as an adult parallel to when you play pretend as children.

    Me: I just used my phazor ray on your galactiship! You’re dead!
    You: Nuh uh! I had a witch on board with a special spell to stop your phrazor ray!
    Me: But I bought my phazor ray from your witch’s home planet and they aren’t affected by her spell!
    You: Ah, but because you fired through cosmic dust, which was invisible because you don’t believe in it, your phazor lost its invincibility!
    Me: Oh.. now it makes sense.

  46. There are eye conditions, retinopathies, where blood vessels in the retina leak. Sometimes, in various parts of our anatomy, the body limits the damage caused from leaking blood vessels and saves organs and functions by growing new blood vessels. But with some retinopathies, the new eye blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina as well, causing blindness instead of preventing it.

    It’s easy to see the mechanisms of adaptation and selection (evolution) at work here. It’s rather harder to see design, unless the designer is thought to be either malicious or not too intelligent.

  47. So, all dinosaurs had the ability to shoot fire from their mouths? Do birds retain a latent ability to do this? Disturbing, if true.

  48. The whole point here is that grasping on to intelligent design theory makes the Christian template of God less likely, not more. Because if you accept the premises of intelligent design, a different God than the Christian one seems to fit that act of creation best.

    You are confusing Christian Creationism ™ with Intelligent Design. ID proponents include deists, agnostics, muslims, buddhists, and tomatotarians, for all I know. ID concludes from observations of biology and design that the two are mutually exclusive.

    Creationists are a subset, not a superset of ID proponents. So, by all means deride one or the other, but please don’t conflate the two.

  49. “If God has designed organisms, he has a lot to account for,” says biologist.

    When I first read the headline I read it as “If God has designed orgasms…”

    Not the post makes more sense.

  50. You are confusing Christian Creationism ™ with Intelligent Design

    A Distinction without a difference?

  51. I’m a med student with a degree in computer science, and a post-baccalaureate in biology, including evolutionary biology. I’m not against evolution per se. The evidence for design is resoundingly clear to me.

    Then you didn’t learn much in your “post-baccalaureate” about the philosophy of science. Does “post-baccalaureate” mean you took a course following matriculation with a bachelor’s degree? Earned a graduate degree in biology emphasizing evolutionary biology?

    Also, what “evidence for design” is so clear to you?

  52. So the guy was taught – by his theology instructors in superstitious, backward Spain – that evolution was not only true, but a confirmation of Catholic theology.

    Yeah. Sometimes it’s really fucking embarrassing to be an American. Not often, but sometimes.

    Or, as any little sunday school kid could tell you, another option is that we live in a Fallen world, and that death, and sickness happen as a result of a broken universe. Perhaps these broken cosmic shards are not the way everything was intended. They show enough design to give us a picture of how things might have been.

    If two people eating fruit can fuck up your universe, you are a *really* lousy engineer. Like, Tacoma Narrows bad.

  53. The common response to this is that God designed everything perfectly, and then everything fucked up after the fall.

    That’s been my experience as well. Up to and including claims that there were no parasites before the fall, and every creature was a vegetarian. (The cries of the carrots, evidently, fall on the deaf ears of the Almighty.)

  54. The existence of pain (in humans or animals) doesnt imply sadism. The pain involved (in say a female insect eating her mate) isnt pain for pain’s sake, there is a reason behind it. . .

    There is plenty of pain outside the human race. I dont see any that exists for the enjoyment of the creator. No sadism here.

    Given an omniscient, omnipotent creator, there is no reason for anything in creation other than the choice of the creator. If God created the world, pain exists only because he wants it to. That does seem like the work of a sadist.

    Why else would he need to use evolution as his method of creation when that is such a slow and painful process apparently involving a vast number of “proto-species” who live out their entire lives for generation after generation for the sole purpose of forming some other species?

    The faithful could reply “I don’t know why god uses evolution as a method of creation,” an answer that’s not particularly satisfying but doesn’t strike me as a rationalization or proof of apathy.

  55. Poor jj. The universe is neither cruel nor benevolent. It is neutral. It wasn’t made by anyone and is thus incapable of caring. But all we have to do is think, and we master it.

    Poor ed. The intricacies of biology, DNA, and evolution so obviously point to design that all of our textbooks and research papers are replete with design metaphors. And yet the old codger is too insecure to acknowledge the remote possibility that some intelligence (whether a cosmic clown, sadist, or a force so alien we could never divine its motives) had some “hand” in its trajectory.

  56. A Distinction without a difference?

    ChicagoTom wins for cutting through the crap in the shortest phrase.

  57. Yeah, but it was magic fruit, LMNOP, duh. Like normal fruit could do that! Creationism is pretty straightforward and logical, probably a good basis for any scientific research.

  58. The evidence for design is resoundingly clear to me.

    For example?

  59. *raises hand* Ooh, ooh. I know that one. Irreducible complexity and gaps in the fossil record.

    *proudly smirks at the other students*

  60. “Evidence of intelligent design” is just a more modern term for “we don’t know how it happened, so it must have come from God.”

  61. Given an omniscient, omnipotent creator, there is no reason for anything in creation other than the choice of the creator. If God created the world, pain exists only because he wants it to. That does seem like the work of a sadist.

    Even agnostic and atheistic philosophers acknowledge that this is not the case. If an unmoved mover provided its spawn with freedom this would not be the case. It is not just the religious philosophers that acknowledge this possibility.

    I, as a deist, (and many of my agnostic friends) acknowledge the possibility, however remote, that there may be no deity. And yet so many strident atheists won’t even acknowledge the glaring possibility of a designer. I wonder how insecure you have to be to be this personally dishonest?

  62. …he certainly does odd things and he is a lousy engineer.”

    God (should he/she actually exist) isn’t a lousy engineer, he/she is an Engineering Prof/Mentor. He/She simply came up with various theoretical concepts and allowed his/her students to design and build however they could. Was too lazy, or on sabbatical, to grade their work, so gave a pass to every result.

    The universe is actually an educational exercise for engineering deities. (sorry, no references/links available – I’ve just made it up!)

    *joke*
    What’s the difference between God and an Engineer?

    – God doesn’t think he/she is an Engineer.

    BTW: Nomination for thread winner

    Shirley Knott | April 29, 2008, 10:52am | #

    Or, if you prefer, whatever god’s doing, it amounts to playing with himself.

    hugs,
    Shirley Knott

  63. And yet so many strident atheists won’t even acknowledge the glaring possibility of a designer.

    Excuse me, but isn’t that behavior implied by them just being “atheists.” It would be like saying that so many strident Christians won’t even acknowledge the glaring possibility that there wasn’t a designer. What an obvious thing to say that would be, huh?

  64. And yet so many strident atheists won’t even acknowledge the glaring possibility of a designer. I wonder how insecure you have to be to be this personally dishonest?

    No matter how many times we cover this, someone ALWAYS wants “TEH OTHER SIDE!” to prove a negative.

    The onus is on you, Sonny Jim, to prove the existence of a logically-impossible Being…it’s not on us to “unprove” it.

  65. I’m not against evolution per se. The evidence for design is resoundingly clear to me.

    Which is odd, because the evidence against design is resoundingly clear to me. Were humans better designed for walking upright before the fall? Were we less prone to hernias?

    Did mammals have lungs more like birds’, which are more efficient for respiration? If so, why did birds retain their better lungs after the fall, while mammals lost theirs?

    Why do birds have two wings and two legs? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to design birds with four legs and two wings? For that matter, why do ostriches and other flightless birds retain their wings? Why are they birds at all, rather than mammals adapted for their ecological niche?

    Why don’t most mammals regrow their teeth, as sharks do? This would seem to be a useful thing for any animal to have. Why do sharks have it, but mammals don’t?

    Why don’t fish and reptiles have better hearts? I mean, having a four-chambered heart certainly wouldn’t hurt them, even if it evidently isn’t absolutely necessary.

    Frankly, to explain all these bad designs as evidence of a fallen world seems to strain credulity. Did ostriches lack wings in the Garden, and then grow them afterwards? Did fish and reptiles have four-chambered hearts, then lose them afterwards?

    To stereotype religious people who believe in intelligent design (the vast majority of scientists and philosophers in history) as knuckle-dragging idiots, is to me silly, sad, and shows a level of paranoia that makes me wonder about the bigots’ supreme certainty.

    Most religious people who believed in intelligent design didn’t have all the facts. To believe in intelligent design pre-Darwin was just common sense; all the evidence wasn’t available to them. Even after Darwin, there was an excuse for not believing in evolution for a while.

    And even now, you don’t have to believe in evolution. If you want to believe in intelligent design, go right ahead. If you want to believe in young-earth creationism, fine by me. No skin off my nose. Just don’t try to tell me it’s science, because it just isn’t. There is no evidence that ID proponents will allow to count against it. It doesn’t explain the available facts as well as evolution, even if evolution were itself a poor explanation of the facts.

  66. “Evidence of intelligent design” is just a more modern term for “we don’t know how it happened, so it must have come from God.”

    My “evidence” of intelligent design is limited solely to human-manufactured contraptions. Your “evidence” of materialistic, non-guided chance-driven evolution is limited to a few basic amino acids randomly assembled in perfect conditions in the lab. Hello! Neither of us has evidence one way or the other! We are both supposing! I acknowledge atheistic biologists’ suppositions that by some incredibly phenomenal unrepeatable fluke this may be all there is. I see also incredible design “fingerprints” in biochemistry, histology, and other disciplines. Can I “prove” the perpetrator of the crime? No, but neither can you. That’s not science, it’s scientism.

  67. parse

    Given an omniscient, omnipotent creator, there is no reason for anything in creation other than the choice of the creator. If God created the world, pain exists only because he wants it to. That does seem like the work of a sadist.

    Only to someone who sees pain as only a negative. Pain is a teacher. Pain prevents us from exceeding our limitations. Pain makes joy that much greater. A world without pain would be a dull place.

    Or maybe God created us all to be masochists and the fall screwed it up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  68. Also, I dont see how the examples he gives leads to “then [God] is a sadist, he certainly does odd things and he is a lousy engineer.”

    Oh, come on! If you assume God not only exists but deliberately designed the world as is, “sadist” is the only label which comes close. The world is full of carnivores and omnivores whose continued existence depends on their not merely killing other living beings, but killing them in a horribly painful way. Gazelles feel pain when lions rip their guts out, but if the gazelles don’t die in such a fashion then the lions die of starvation. If God felt the need to design meat eaters, why couldn’t he have had the decency to at least make prey animals immune to pain when fangs tear their bodies apart?

    Meanwhile, human beings can only propagate our own species in a manner that is horribly painful for the mother and can easily (absent medical care) lead to her own death and the death of her child as well. For that matter, if God isn’t a sadist then explain why when he “designed” the female reproductive system, he decided that making women of childbearing age go through what amounts to five days of bloody incontinence every month is a better system than “empty yourself out once you’re full” system he “designed” for our other eliminatory functions? Why did he design our respiratory systems so that when we have a cold or the flu, the only way the body can expel various icky substances is by clogging up our nasal passages rather than using any of the eliminatory systems already in place? Why give us an appendix whose sole apparent function is to put people at risk of a horrible death from appendicitis?

    For that matter, why the hell did he put the windpipe right next to the food-and-drink pipe? How many needless choking deaths are there every year due to that design screw-up which makes it very easy for your own food or drink to suffocate you?

  69. There is much more evidence for a “clockmaker” God than there is for any sort of active hand in “intelligently” designing creatures and their associated parts. Maybe we live in a universe where the physical laws are happen to be such that emergent and evolving systems happen.

    For every universe like ours there are many “failed” ones where Planck’s constant is just slightly off and space-time collapses on itself.

  70. And even now, you don’t have to believe in evolution. If you want to believe in intelligent design, go right ahead. If you want to believe in young-earth creationism, fine by me. No skin off my nose. Just don’t try to tell me it’s science, because it just isn’t. There is no evidence that ID proponents will allow to count against it. It doesn’t explain the available facts as well as evolution, even if evolution were itself a poor explanation of the facts.

    Why must you conflate evolution, something believed in by MOST leading ID proponents (ala Michael Behe) with non-guided materialism. Yes, ID may be unproveable and non-science, but so is non-guided materialism. PROVE to me that there was no guiding force or cosmic tamperer in the universe. Can’t do it? PROVE to me that no “Unmoved Mover” spawned the big bang. SHOW me what happened a second before the big bang. Can’t do it. Then you are as buried in beliefs as I. At least I acknowledge mine.

  71. Short version of my last post: if intelligent-design God isn’t a sadist, then he’s a fucking idiot.

  72. Even agnostic and atheistic philosophers acknowledge that this is not the case. If an unmoved mover provided its spawn with freedom this would not be the case. It is not just the religious philosophers that acknowledge this possibility.

    If the unmoved mover is omniscient, he knows in advance what choices its spawn will make, and what the results of those choices will be. If the results of those free choices will cause pain, the unmoved mover knows it, and chose to create spawn with freedom nonetheless. If the unmoved mover is omnipotent, he could create spawn with freedom without creating the possibility of pain. If nothing you can do can hurt me, it doesn’t compromise your free will.

    And unless you are claiming that insects have free will, this quibble doesn’t get god off the hook, anyway. It was the pain suffered by male midges whose genitals are consumed that was at issue.

  73. My “evidence” of intelligent design is limited solely to human-manufactured contraptions.

    So, wait, you looked at a watch, then looked at a retina and said to yourself “Self, these were definitely BOTH designed!”…without being able to point to any evidence of the existence of the designer of the retina?

    Are you on crack?

    Let’s add the special fact that you’re multiplying entities beyond necessity. You posit Designer + Evolution; we just posit Evolution…both are adequate explanations of the phenomena at hand, but you feel the need to add a Designer in there…what gives?

  74. PROVE to me that there was no guiding force or cosmic tamperer in the universe. Can’t do it? PROVE to me that no “Unmoved Mover” spawned the big bang. SHOW me what happened a second before the big bang. Can’t do it.

    Prove to me that you’re not the man who murdered the woman who went missing from my neighborhood last year.

    No, you can’t do it, because the first thing you’d learn if you ever took basic logic is that you can’t prove a negative.

  75. Fluffy

    No, silly. No one is saying that the insects are sadists.

    I was talking about God, not the insects. Im fully aware of what is being discussed.

  76. There is much more evidence for a “clockmaker” God than there is for any sort of active hand in “intelligently” designing creatures and their associated parts. Maybe we live in a universe where the physical laws are happen to be such that emergent and evolving systems happen.

    Thanks, Bingo. That’s a rare statement of intellectual honesty on this board. I can respect, and can see evidence for this view.

  77. PROVE to me that there was no guiding force or cosmic tamperer in the universe. Can’t do it? PROVE to me that no “Unmoved Mover” spawned the big bang.

    You can’t prove negatives, you IRRATIONAL DOLT…seriously, are you sure you went to school?

  78. That’s not science, it’s scientism.

    Ah, I understand now. You’re an idiot.

    All: I recommend ignoring the comments of jj, who has demonstrated himself to be a sophomoric ignoramus.

  79. Also I get the impression that Jennifer would prefer humans to be an egg-laying species ๐Ÿ˜‰

  80. acknowledge the remote possibility that some intelligence…had some “hand” in its trajectory

    Show me the evidence.

  81. Ayn Randian:

    exactly right

  82. “””Or, as any little sunday school kid could tell you, another option is that we live in a Fallen world, and that death, and sickness happen as a result of a broken universe. Perhaps these broken cosmic shards are not the way everything was intended.”””

    That doesn’t speak well of the designer’s ability.

    “”” And yet so many strident atheists won’t even acknowledge the glaring possibility of a designer.”””

    That’s because there is no evidence that a designer exists. That’s not dishonest at all. There is no glaring possibility.

  83. jj:

    Well even if it is the case then it basically says that God defined the physical laws and constants of the universe, hit the start button, and then just sort of hung around watching what happens. It certainly does not indicate any active role in the design or evolution of species, and there is no evidence that anything like what creationists call “intelligent design” happened.

  84. acknowledge the remote possibility that some intelligence…had some “hand” in its trajectory

    Why should it merit anymore consideration than “anything’s possible”?

  85. PROVE to me that there was no guiding force or cosmic tamperer in the universe. Can’t do it? PROVE to me that no “Unmoved Mover” spawned the big bang. SHOW me what happened a second before the big bang. Can’t do it. Then you are as buried in beliefs as I. At least I acknowledge mine.

    Oh, I acknowledge mine. I happen to be a theist, and a rather devout Episcopalian. I also happen to believe that God probably sparked the Big Bang, or whatever event happened to create the universe. It’s just that science cannot, by its nature, speak to the unknowable. Science can’t tell us what made the Big Bang happen (yet), because that is outside the realm of observation. Speculations about that are outside the realm of science.

    Similarly, if God intervened in the evolution of human beings, he did so in a way that left no hard evidence. The available evidence is consistent with the idea of undirected evolution. If God did intervene in evolution, than he did so very selectively, because of the evidence of poor design I observed above. The fact remains that the evidence is consistent with undirected evolution, and inconsistent with design. Directed evolution is a possibility, so if you really want to believe in it more power to you. But the moment you allow divine intervention into science, you might as well give up on doing science, because divine intervention can explain everything.

  86. jj –
    You talk an awful lot about philosophers, but you clearly don’t understand philosophy or philosophical thought.

  87. Ayn Randian, what nonsense. How’s your logic theory.

    A or B
    A
    ————
    Therefore not B
    ————

  88. There is no evidence of a clockmaker. An observation of something that looks like it is guide by a clock is not the same as evidence of a being. To claim the existance of a being, one must offer proof of that being. Appeal to circumstance, or appeal to awesome is not proof of being.

    Most IDers use appeal to awesome. Wow the universe is so awesome it had to be designed by a being!

  89. You talk an awful lot about philosophers, but you clearly don’t understand philosophy or philosophical thought.

    That convinced me. Thanks for showing me the light.

  90. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of the players, (i.e. everybody), to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

    – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, “Good Omens”

  91. In no other way can I explain why Alien, an uninspired, grade-C, formula horror film, should have won such a following.

    Stephen Jay Gould can kiss my ass.

  92. grylliade

    I agree with everything you said except this:

    the evidence of poor design I observed above.

    Design depends on intent. What we may consider poor design, may not be, if the intent was something else. A platypus seems like poor design, but it makes me laugh, so maybe that makes it a success. Assuming the purpose of the platypus was to make me laugh. Which I do assume (apparently I was “designed” with a bigass ego).

  93. I know the Romans didn’t keep precise records of everything that went on in the backwaters of the empire, but I’m pretty sure that a blonde dude riding around Judea on a firebreathing dinosaur would have been mentioned somewhere.

  94. The intricacies of biology, DNA, and evolution so obviously point to design…

    Not to biologists, biochemists, and naturalists. If it’s so obvious, why does virtually every person who is an expert in such things disagree with you?

    The intricacies of biology point to the intelligent design of life forms no more so than the intricacies of geology point to the intelligent design of rivers and mountains.

  95. Hinders, not eroses. And not all theists do even that. Gregor Mendel and Isaac Newton come immediately to mind.

    Religion almost certainly hindered Newton. He gets to a point in his calculations, can’t explain why planetary orbits are stable, throws up his hands, and says, “God does it.” 100 years later, someone else, using math that would have been simple for Newton, finds the answer. Had Newton not had “God does it” to fall back on, he might have solved the problem himself.

    And don’t get me started on all the time Newton wasted on alchemy.

  96. Of course his observation is correct that evolution does not disprove god, it is just that god is not a part of evolutionary theory. Creating everything; time, space, and everything else we call universe sounds much more godlike than a vision of god as a watchmaker. It is much more impressive than talking snake, god impregnating women, humanoid son of god, and other fairly tales.

    I am an agnostic, but it seems to me that if god exists he is neither the supreme loving being nor the infinitely cruel and jealous god of Christianity that condemns humans to eternal torment just for failing to worship his stand in. He is probably more like a video game designer.

    If you had to design a virtual universe would you create a universe full of harmony where everybody is virtuous at all times, making no mistakes, where nothing bad ever happens? I would imagine that as a creator and observer you would find our universe which is full of conflicts, variety, and extremes a lot more interesting.

  97. jj is not an idiot.

    He is not, however, well versed on the issue he is discussing.

    He may find this an interesting essay
    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/ISSR.cfm

  98. Joe,

    Actually, Jesus of Nazareth does not appear in any Roman records that have survived.

  99. Though I think I read about this omnipotent guy riding through the countryside of Judeah on fire breathing dinosaurs. I think his name was Buddah.

  100. Naga Shadow,

    Are you saying that maybe there was a blond dude in Judea riding around on a firebreathing dinosuar, and know one thought to make a backup copy of that particular fact?

  101. For a challenging exercise related to this topic those with some time on their hands might want to check this out.

    http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/iidb.htm

    I believe we may have the appropriate hired guns around here to change the nature of the discussion…although the website’s author is unlikely to recognize successful counter-arguments.

    imho.

  102. Ilya
    You highlight the reason I think it’s bad for christians to jump on the ID bandwagon. It may teach that their God is unlikely. It doesn’t promote their beliefs like the think it will.

    Evolution does not discuss the creation of the universe and is not in competition with God as a designer. It’s not questioning God directly, just the bible’s version of events. ID theory challenges God directly. Christians should wake up, ID theory is a threat to the first commandment since it teaches the possiblity of other Gods as creator.

  103. robc,

    Parchment was expensive?

    *shrugs shoulders*

  104. “As floods and drought were a necessary consequence of the fabric of the physical world, predators and parasites, dysfunctions and diseases were a consequence of the evolution of life,” he writes. “They were not a result of a deficient or malevolent design.”

    Actually, my interpretation is that the bible would have the entry and exit of sin in the world as the begining and end of the harsher aspects of evolution. The book has the first people not killing animals until God does it himself, and ends in Revelations with a picture of heaven as a place where lions and lambs lay down together.

    …I don’t think that’s “lay down” in the biblical sense.

    This isn’t odd to Christianity. It’s Vedic rta, Zoroastiran asha, Buddhist dharma and in Christian tradition, it’s Greek logos. All of these represent the moral and physical laws by which the universe was formed. In Greek myth, for instance, if the king killed his father and married his mother, then the crops wouldn’t grow, etc. It’s the root of our word “logic”.

    “In the begining was the logos (KJV “Word”), and the [Logic] was with God, and the [Logic] was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

    John 1:1-3

    Later in the chapter we get, “…and the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us…”

    You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that the Bible–just like those other major world religious traditions–isn’t telling us that the very laws of nature haven’t been corrupted by “sin” AKA rebellion against this Logic/God.

    Maybe it has something to do with how a religious person accounts for original sin. Some religious people, some Muslims I’ve spoken to actually, seem to look at all the terrible things that happen in the world and see it all as part of God’s plan. But there are others who see people born in some awful dungeon in the bottom of some basement in Austria and think that if there is a benevolent God, that can’t possibly be what he had in mind if he created us. …to those people, the creative destruction side of evolution is perfectly compatible with faith.

    As for whether faith is compatible with science, I suppose it matters what you’re talking about when you talk about faith. I think of faith as that part of a theory that remains uncertain pending further testing and conclusive results. And with that definition of faith, I’d say that unless a scientist, no matter his personal bias, is dealing honestly with his own uncertainty (or faith), whenever he’s working on something regarding that uncertain theory, what he’s doing isn’t really compatible with science.

  105. [God] is probably more like a video game designer. If you had to design a virtual universe would you create a universe full of harmony where everybody is virtuous at all times, making no mistakes, where nothing bad ever happens? I would imagine that as a creator and observer you would find our universe which is full of conflicts, variety, and extremes a lot more interesting.

    Maybe, but I never would’ve played Super Mario Bros. if I’d thought those mushrooms and turtles suffered actual pain when I stomped on them.

  106. NM: Interesting, although information physics says that information is another basic unit of measurement in the universe. Seth Lloyd at MIT actually wrote a pretty neat book about this and compares entropy to the amount of information needed to describe the state of the universe. He puts forward the idea that the entire universe is a giant computer essentially computing itself and its own existence.

    So I don’t know if the argument put forward by your friend on the website proves or disproves God’s existence.

  107. Actually, Jesus of Nazareth does not appear in any Roman records that have survived.

    That’s probably because he didn’t have a fire-breathing dinosaur.

  108. I know the Romans didn’t keep precise records of everything that went on in the backwaters of the empire, but I’m pretty sure that a blonde dude riding around Judea on a firebreathing dinosaur would have been mentioned somewhere.

    The historical documents were suppressed by AGENTS OF SATAN!

    But I saw a copy once. No I don’t remember where. No, I didn’t see it, but an expert did. Well, he said he was an expert. No, I don’t remember what he looks like.

    It was dark, and I was scared.

  109. Tell us where the expert touched you, Elemenope.

    Can you show us on this doll?

  110. put forward by your friend

    No friend of mine.

    I just ran across it and was inspired not to get involved in the discussion due to the obvious “this guy’s got to much time on his hands” factor.

  111. My “evidence” of intelligent design is limited solely to human-manufactured contraptions.

    In the proverbial watch-in-the-middle-of-a-field, the finder knows the watch was designed by contrast with things not designed: The watch has characteristics unknown in undesigned lumps of metal.

    But in this argument by analogy, biochemical/biological processes, whether they were designed or not, do not produce the same kind of results as geological processes that produce lumps of metal. So, can you point to an undesigned biological entity that we can use as an analogous point of contrast?

    In other words: We know watches are designed because we know what metal looks like in the absence of a designer. So what would biology look like in the absence of a designer?

  112. I believe we may have the appropriate hired guns around here to change the nature of the discussion…although the website’s author is unlikely to recognize successful counter-arguments.

    I can immediately think of two objections.

    One, that DNA is an example of a naturally occurring code. But of course, the author won’t admit this as evidence. Of course, since the author believes that the universe is created by God, any code you come up with that seems to be created naturally would be, to him, only another piece of evidence of the nature of God. DNA might be the only example we know of a naturally created code, too.

    Two, if information is always and everywhere evidence of intelligence, who created God? Doesn’t intelligence carry information? It’s just another example of the old arguments for the existence of God. If you just say that whatever information existed first is God, then what’s to stop DNA from being “God”?

    Maybe I’ll wade in there at some point. The problem is that I’m not schooled in information theory, and I don’t have time ATM to learn a lot about it.

  113. Bingo,

    I also believe that this

    http://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/toc.html

    may be a direct refutation of the argument presented for ID.

  114. Far be it from me to tell anyone they should or shouldn’t be an atheist, but it would be good if people stopped assuming that all theists believe God is omnipotent.

    Even if most theists believe in an omnipotent God, that doesn’t warrant using the word “theist” as if it means the same thing as “one who believes in an omnipotent God.”

    Getting rid of omnipotence, (while retaining some sense of great and influential power) cleans up some big problems.

    I’m not making a larger argument about atheism and religion or science, just pointing out that though belief in an omnipotent God seems to be very unsatisfying, given the immense suffering in the world, it is entirely possible to get rid of the idea of omnipotence while retaining belief in a creator God, and it’s been done before.

  115. Not that Wolfram doesn’t have some flaws in his argument as well or anything.

  116. You can’t prove negatives, you IRRATIONAL DOLT…seriously, are you sure you went to school?

    You can prove negatives. There are many negative proofs in mathematics.

    You can also prove the non-existence of anything if your bounds are well defined. For example, I can prove an empty box does not conatin a duck. It’s not a mathematical proof mind you but it’s good enough for science work.

    The problem with the God hypothesis is that the search space is all space and time which makes a negative proof effectively impossible. But of course this same problem is faced by flying tea pots, invisible pink unicorns, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  117. He may find this an interesting essay
    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/ISSR.cfm

    Neu Mejican, thank you for the kind words. I’ll be sure to read the article you mention.

    Sincerely.

  118. Soda,

    SHHHH, you’ll disturb Ayn Randian’s quiet worldview where everything makes perfect sense.

    Without it he can’t sleep at night.

  119. Agreed, Soda.

    Negatives can be proved in mutually exclusive propositions (e.g., A or B, B, therefore Not A), but inclusive propositions cannot be logically proven (A + B, A, therefore not B

  120. That’s probably because he didn’t have a fire-breathing dinosaur.

    But if he did that totally would have kicked ass.

  121. The Wolfram article is very interesting, thanks for the link NM!

  122. But you see, jj. That negative proof problem when it comes to God is what makes me put the onus on theists to come forth with a positive proof of their universe-shattering proposition that the universe was created by a sentient designer (whether ominpotent or not).

    Deists don’t face this challenge, but then what use is a God that has no effect on the universe?

  123. Universal negatives can’t be proven or disproven, jj. That’s what you were requesting.

    If A or B = evolution or intelligent design, your formulation is a false dichotomy.

  124. Soda, an interesting point. I think that atheists (in contrast to agnostics) face a similar problem. I see as little proof for: “evolution is definitely guided by chance” as for: “evolution is definitely guided by God.”

    Let A= God
    B= Chance.

    If you are going to claim “not A” in mutually exclusive proposition
    A or B,
    surely you must then have proof for B?

    My point was that there is no unassailable proof either way. I think there is a lot of evidence that seems to point to A, and definitely some that seems to point to B. I can understand agnostics, who see it the opposite way: A lot of B, and a little evidence for A. But the people on this board who claim that religious people are idiots for even contemplating A, they, like their creationist counterparts, must show unassailable proof for B.

    If I am indeed contemplating 5 + 5 = 11, by all means, heap on the scorn. But at least provide the proof for the mutually exclusive proposition that 5 + 5 = 10.

  125. SHHHH, you’ll disturb Ayn Randian’s quiet worldview where everything makes perfect sense.

    I’ll sleep just fine without your ringing praise, Neu, thankyouverymuch.

  126. Universal negatives can’t be proven or disproven, jj. That’s what you were requesting.

    Non-mutually exclusive negatives can’t be disproven. Mutually exclusive statements (theoretically) can.

  127. If you are going to claim “not A” in mutually exclusive proposition
    A or B,
    surely you must then have proof for B?

    No, dude…you’re assuming “Chance” as some kind of force that “designed” this. I’d say the odds that we’re existant is 1 in 1 (that is, we exist)…past that, YOU have to prove that it didn’t just “end up this way”. YOU have to prove that Occam’s Razor isn’t applicable.

  128. So, JJ, since you say you can prove a negative: can you please prove you are NOT responsible for murdering the woman who disappeared from my neighborhood last year?

  129. If you are going to claim “not A” in mutually exclusive proposition
    A or B,
    surely you must then have proof for B?

    Actually, that’s not correct.

    In the argument between “something” and “nothing”, the responsibility all rests on the person arguing for “something”. In the absence of evidence being produced for “something”, the person arguing “nothing” does not even have to advance an argument or provide proof of any kind.

    This is why [for example] the distinction between agnosticism and atheism, so often trumpeted on this board, really isn’t all that relevant. Until proof is offered that there is a God, there isn’t one. The agnostic position [“well, maybe there is, I haven’t made up my mind yet, I can’t be sure”] describes the emotional attitude one takes towards the absence of proof in the existence of God, more than it describes an actual position.

  130. To clarify my earlier post: IOW, “Chance” (that is, causality in an existent universe) is the default; you have to prove something exists beyond that.

  131. No, dude…you’re assuming “Chance” as some kind of force that “designed” this. I’d say the odds that we’re existant is 1 in 1 (that is, we exist)…past that, YOU have to prove that it didn’t just “end up this way”. YOU have to prove that Occam’s Razor isn’t applicable.

    Thank you, Ayn Randian. I appreciate that you have come around to:
    1. Discuss with me civilly rather than just calling me an idiot.
    2. Acknowledging the (albeit infinitely remote) possibility that a deity exists.

    You will of course disagree on this, but, here we go: I find a watch lying in the woods. It’s functional efficiency and complexity leads me to conclude (using Occam) that it was designed by an intelligent being rather than being the product of random forces of wind and sun. Based on the incredible functional efficiency of bio cell machinery, I conclude similarly for the cell. I know that you will disagree with me here. My point is that Occam’s razor cuts two ways. It is hardly, of itself, a weapon for either side in this war.

    (And before you cling to closely to darling Occam, were you aware that he was a Theistic Roman Catholic franciscan Friar?) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  132. “evolution is definitely guided by chance”

    But it’s not, jj. Evolution is driven by natural selection which is itself non-random. Mutations may be random, but the selection part is not.

    innominate is right, there is a false dichotomy here: chance vs. design. The other option is of course evolution driven by a non-random mechanism that does not require a sentient guiding hand. This is not the same as chance.

  133. So has anyone here actually SEEN this particular “documentary”? Can’t we all agree that it sucks? I love how the ID debate immediately turns into atheism vs theism, instead of science vs pseudo-science.

    Ben Stein has been on TV promoting it, sounding like a whiner. He also apparently believes in evolution, and an old universe, but that God started life on Earth. At least I think that’s what he believes, it would help if someone could just present a REAL theory of intelligent design (or even creationism), instead of just throwing out vague possiblities like a stoner.

  134. My point is that Occam’s razor cuts two ways.

    No, it doesn’t, because saying the word “watch” presupposes a human-invented watch, unless you can point to another kind.

    I can take you to the store or person who made that watch, or someone who can duplicate or replicate it.

    You can’t take me to God or anything approaching a being capable of making a cell.

    And before you cling to closely to darling Occam, were you aware that he was a Theistic Roman Catholic franciscan Friar?

    Yeah, yeah, and I drive on the government roads and use the DARPA-funded internet and say “Bless You!” when someone sneezes.

    Acknowledging the (albeit infinitely remote) possibility that a deity exists.

    I acknowledged no such thing. I acknowledge that I don’t believe it until you prove it to my satisfaction.

  135. But, Ayn, jj only needs to prove God’s existence to his level of satisfaction, not yours. Now you’re just being a big ol’ meanie.

  136. “It’s functional efficiency and complexity leads me to conclude (using Occam) that it was designed by an intelligent being rather than being the product of random forces of wind and sun.”

    Surely you’re not suggesting that products of evolution by natural selection are solely products of “random forces”…?

  137. Or, what Soda said at 2:43.

  138. Based on the incredible functional efficiency of bio cell machinery, I conclude similarly for the cell.

    I’m curious as to why you would come to that particular conclusion, as opposed to thinking something like “Wow, this cellular stuff is pretty neat and I’m not sure how it functions. I wonder how I would go about figuring out what makes it tick?” And from there, coming up with a methodology and testing system to figure out how it works?

  139. Incidentally, I clicked on that “Cosmic Fingerprints” website.

    What I saw was lots of block text laid out in a manner that was as random as it was boastful. It just looks to me like a lowbrow TimeCube.

  140. Why do birds have two wings and two legs? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to design birds with four legs and two wings? For that matter, why do ostriches and other flightless birds retain their wings? Why are they birds at all, rather than mammals adapted for their ecological niche?

    Oy, everybody is a critic.

  141. I see as little proof for: “evolution is definitely guided by chance” as for: “evolution is definitely guided by God.”

    Leaving aside that “chance” isn’t really the mechanism behind evolution, there is a big difference between the two statements: it is proven that evolution does not require the hand of a deity in order to occur (i.e. the physical properties of populations of biological organisms and their environments are “enough” for evolution to happen). By the same logic that allows us to conclude that the radio functions without the help of little green gremlins (although there might be gremlins in there)we conclude that, in the absence of any evidence that a deity is in fact involved in evolution, it is more rational at this point to conclude that evolution is a purely natural (as opposed to supernatural) unfolding.

  142. “””Actually, that’s not correct.

    In the argument between “something” and “nothing”, the responsibility all rests on the person arguing for “something”. In the absence of evidence being produced for “something”, the person arguing “nothing” does not even have to advance an argument or provide proof of any kind.””””

    Bingo

    If you claim something is true it is your responsibility to offer proof, not the opponent’s responsibility to prove you wrong.

    In attempting to prove knowledge of logic, JJ is proving a lack of knowledge of critical thinking.

    Nothing personal jj, but knowing you must offer proof of your claim is arguments 101.

  143. I’m rubbing my balls

  144. He also apparently believes in evolution

    He doesn’t. In a talk recently he claimed there was no evidence for speciation and repeated the “micro/macroevolution” creationist talking point. (I wish I had the link handy, I’ll look for it).

    And it gets worse:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihYq2dGa29M

    He is a transparent fuckwit. I would never have imagined Ben Stein would ever say something like “Science leads you to killing people.” with a straight face.

  145. “”””I love how the ID debate immediately turns into atheism vs theism, instead of science vs pseudo-science.””””

    That’s because people who back ID are really trying to promote religion. If they were serious about ID as a topic, they would debate various types of creators, including the universe as a type of science project for a greater being.

  146. Bingo,

    The Wolfram article is very interesting, thanks for the link NM!

    Article is an interesting way to characterize a 1200 page long book, but I found it to be a thought provoking read.

    Be sure to track down some of the critical reviews that take Wolfram to task for some weaknesses in his argument.

    He side-stepped peer-review and self-published.
    Peer-review happened anyway.

    A particularly harsh critique by a sharp guy:
    http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/reviews/wolfram/

  147. I dunno, I really don’t have a dog in this fight, today, but when you believe that the bible is the unfiltered word of God, you have to make everything else around you fit into that. I think the conundrum religious folks get into is at some point, you have to decide whether the bible is the unfiltered word of god. If you decide it’s not, then everything else god ‘teaches’ you is in question because, the bible is now just a big Wikipedia article.

  148. awesome picture

  149. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars or that a cat should play with mice…

    But not all cats play with mice – some of them don’t even like mice. Those kind of cats are usually refered to as women.

  150. JJ;

    Most honest atheists will admit to the -possibility- of a Prime Mover. However, with a nod toward Occam, when you push that line of thought you are really positing more complexity in the creation process, not less. Instead of starting with atoms, we are now “starting” with a very complex being, all powerful and able to create the universe with a wave of the wand (twitch of the nose?) Of course, “starting” is in quotes because we then must ask what created the Prime Mover? JJ, are you suggesting that it’s turtles all the way down?

  151. you guys with long memories can answer me this, but why the reverence for ben stein? before all this went down, i mean.

  152. I think it’s time for the Gnostics to make a comeback. In the context of this article, their theology is nearly perfect.

    The world is imperfect because the creator of Earth is Satan. The world was given some pleasant aspects in order to entice souls into this trap but it’s essentially a broken and evil place. The snake in the garden was the good guy (God) trying to lead people to knowledge and liberation.

    This makes so much more sense than the accepted Biblical version where a believer would have to constantly make excuses as to why God would permit suffering in the world. The Gnostics seem to believe that God has given us an escape route but he’s basically ambivalent about whether or not we take him up on the offer. And he has a prime directive about not interfering much in the universe created by the evil one. Apparently he has bigger fish to fry than stopping Evil Junior from screwing up his SimEarth game.

  153. you guys with long memories can answer me this, but why the reverence for ben stein?

    He seemed like a cool guy, a long time ago. He’s funny and bright. But I guess either he went downhill, or he showed his full hand?

  154. The world is imperfect because the creator of Earth is Satan. The world was given some pleasant aspects in order to entice souls into this trap but it’s essentially a broken and evil place.

    “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” ????

  155. I think it’s time for the Gnostics to make a comeback.

    I don’t think they can do it, cs. The Gnostics have had a weak defensive line since Terebinthus was traded to the Buddhists. Now, if they could get some of the big guys that are coming out of the Eastern Orthodox Church, lately.

  156. cs, not to mention that Gnostics have the Matrix.

  157. Silly JJ. Fallen? From where? Are you honestly suggesting that midges are a result of some apple picking, and the all-powerful deity doesn’t care to clean up the mess? Of course that IS the silliness one would expect from “a sunday school child.” But not a grown adult with common sense and two eyes.

  158. I don’t know, Jim Bob.

    Blessed are the meek, for they shall…

    Show us the dinosaur!!!

    …er…for they shall inherit…

    C’mon, show us the dinosaur!

    …inherit the earth.

    I don’t think you even have a fire-breathing dinosaur.

    That’s it! *Zap* Uh oh.

  159. cs – that is awesome. I’m a big fan of fringe philosophies that advocate supernatural (and therefore clearly untestable) explanations to things, mostly because religioous fundamentalists spend all their time coming up with arguments against atheism as if they win by disproving it. Then you just throw something like that at them and watch the wheels start turning.

    As an agnostic, I’ve heard the term gnostic thrown around but never really explored it before, i guess i have to now.

  160. And to my original post – i hear the “documentary” really sucks. I thought i heard Ben Stein say he thought Darwin was brilliant, and probably right, but maybe i was wrong.

    He’s going to be on Glenn Beck’s show, i’d like to see what he says but i can’t stand Beck and feel dirty if i watch him for even a short time.

  161. “religioous fundamentalists spend all their time coming up with arguments against atheism as if they win by disproving it. Then you just throw something like that at them and watch the wheels start turning.”

    Yes, that should throw them. Christians have never dealt with Gnosticism before – it will be something totally unexpected.

  162. My mum is deeply fundamentalist and was thrown for a loop when I started discussing Gnostic theology with her. She immediately dismissed it as heresy but she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Don’t think she’ll ever go for that belief system but it shook her worldview.

    Sure, Christianity dealt with the Gnostics harshly a long time ago, but the antibodies have long since atrophied. With the right packaging, it could infect the host and force it to evolve into a new direction. This obscure ancient theology is much better suited for the modern dystopian world than the head-in-the-sand fundie system.

  163. Doesn’t ID reify rather than deify God. And isn’t that blasphemy (or maybe heresy or idolatry – they’re easy to confuse)? The God imagined by ID proponents seems pretty earthbound to me.

  164. Consider, he said, that at least 20 percent of pregnancies are known to end in spontaneous abortion. If that results from divinely inspired anatomy, Dr. Ayala said, “God is the greatest abortionist of them all.”

    And 100% of those humans who survive pregnancy, and whose lives are not ended prematurely by injury or human agency, are known to end spontaneously of natural causes. I guess that makes God the greatest killer of them all.

  165. probably a dead thread…but here is some interesting news from Nature

    http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080430//full/453015e.html

    Headline: Creationists fail in bid to offer science degree.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.