Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Four Metaphors for the Cosmos: A Story about a Watch, a Lute, a Recipe and a Symphony

In the past, Intelligent Design has been accused of being tied to a “watchmaker” model of the cosmos. In today’s post, I’m going to look at four different metaphors for the cosmos, all of which are highly relevant for Intelligent Design, and discuss their strengths and limitations. 1. Why Professor Dembski considers Paley’s watch to be a bad metaphor for the world, and why he thinks the lute is a better one Left: A Renaissance-era lute. Unlike a watch, a lute does not do anything unless a human being is playing it. For this reason, Professor William Dembski, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, thinks that the lute is a much better metaphor for the world than a watch. Right: Read More ›

Intelligent Design and mechanism: laying a myth to rest

In a recent post, entitled, Was Paley a mechanist?, I argued that Paley’s argument from design in no way presupposes a mechanistic philosophy of life, and that Paley’s philosophy of Nature was much closer to that of Aristotle than is commonly supposed. In today’s post, which is a follow-up of my latest essay, Building a bridge between Scholastic philosophy and Intelligent Design, I shall attempt to lay to rest a long-standing myth: the myth that the Intelligent Design movement is tied to a mechanistic view of life. I propose to lay the evidence before my readers, and let them draw their own conclusions. 1. What is a mechanist, and why does Professor Feser think that Professor Dembski is one? Left: Read More ›

Is Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

First, I’d like to thank Mr. Arrington for granting me posting privileges.  I consider it quite an honor, and I hope this post (and any future posts) warrants this trust. Second, the following is an argument I think will help us to focus on a fundamental issue that lies behind ever so many of the debates here at Uncommon Descent, and elsewhere.  That is, is the sort of implicit or even explicit atheism that is so often built in on the ground floor of a “scientific” mindset truly rationally justifiable? Such cannot be assumed, it needs to be shown. I’ll begin by defining some terms for the sake of this argument: Definition of God (for the purpose of this thread): Read More ›

New Research Elucidates Directed Mutation Mechanisms

It has been known for years that organisms and populations adapt to environmental challenges by mutating DNA nucleotides that are particularly exposed during transcription. In other words, when faced with an environmental challenge a cell identifies certain genes which can help meet the challenge. But the gene might require some modification. And so when the DNA double helix is unwound (in order to make a copy of the gene) the exposed single stranded DNA is subject to mutation. Therefore mutations don’t occur randomly in the genome, but rather in the genes where they can help to address the challenge. But there is more. The gene’s single stranded DNA has certain coils and loops which expose only some of the gene’s Read More ›

Just Too Simple

For me, the real argument for intelligent design has always been extremely simple, and doesn’t require any advanced mathematics or microbiology to grasp. The video below makes this argument in the simplest, clearest way I can make it. My uncle Harry and aunt Martha like the video, and can’t understand why so many intelligent scientists aren’t impressed by this very simple argument. Of course the problem is, the argument is just too simple, most scientists aren’t interested in arguments that their uncle Harry and aunt Martha can understand, they are looking for arguments that require some advanced technology, that show some understanding of evolutionary theory or microbiology that sets them apart from uncle Harry and aunt Martha. And indeed, most Read More ›

Building a bridge between Scholastic philosophy and Intelligent Design

This post is written for two groups of people: first, those who don’t know much about the philosophy of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) or the Scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages (which was influenced by his thinking) and who would like a clear, jargon-free introduction; and second, those who would like to understand why some Thomist philosophers have a problem with Intelligent Design. As my principal aim is clarity of exposition, I have endeavored to keep this post as free from polemics as possible. It is my contention that the philosophy of the Intelligent Design movement fits squarely within the broad tradition of Scholastic philosophy. If you’d like to learn why, please read on. What prompted me to write this post Read More ›

Wiki’s F – – on ID, 4: Correcting a widely circulated propagandistic false history of the origins of intelligent design as a scientific school of thought

(To comment cf. here) Just now, I see where an objector to ID was saying that I a am tilting at windmills to take time to take apart the introduction to Wikipedia’s anti-ID hit piece presented as a NPOV review of ID from significant and credible sources. It bears remembering, then, that by Wiki’s admission in a promotional and fund raising appeal, they are the number 5 most popular site in the world. Other evaluations vary, but it is quite plain that Wiki is arguably the most commonly resorted to popular reference and education site in the world. That is a lot of reach and influence, so they have an even more intense duty of care to truth, accuracy, credibility Read More ›

What makes a thing a thing? Why reality has to be built from the bottom up as well as from the top down

In this post, I shall attempt to get to the nub of a vital but often overlooked point of difference between Intelligent Design theory and some of its Thomist critics. The issue relates to precisely what it is that makes a thing a thing, and not just a virtual imitation of a thing. I’m also going to talk about Harry Potter, so stay tuned. What I shall attempt to argue is that the concept of “top-down creation” is unintelligible. Things have to also be made from the bottom up: in order to create something, de novo, you have to fully specify what it is that you’re creating. That means filling in all the details. More generally, what I’m claiming is Read More ›

Materialist find themselves between the Scylla of denying the patently obvious existence of the mind and the Charybdis of emergentism poofery.

Edward Feser reviews Michael Gazzaniga’s Who’s in Charge?  Free Will and the Science of the Brain in this quarter’s Claremont Review of Books (hard copy only available for now):  For those beholden to scientism, the only alternative to reductionism is ‘eliminativism,’ the view that if some apparent feature of the world cannot be reduced to scientific categories, it should be eliminated altogether. Hence the willingness of some advocates of scientism seriously to entertain the suggestion that free will, consciousness, and thought might simply be illusions. The trouble with Gazzaniga is that while he admirably resists such extreme conclusions, he is no less beholden than reductionists and eliminativists are to the fallacy that leads to them: the tendency to ‘reify’ abstractions, Read More ›

Wiki’s F – – on ID, 3: The pseudoscience false accusation vs the demarcation challenge for origins sciences

(To comment, go here) As we continue to mark up the Wikipedia introductory remarks on ID in its dismissive article, the next focal issue on failure to achieve the vaunted NPOV or carry out responsibilities of truthfulness, warrant and fairness,  is: Intelligent design is viewed as a pseudoscience by the scientific community, because it lacks empirical support, offers no tenable hypotheses, and aims to describe natural history in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural causes. I will contend  — as can be seen from last time — that: a: on the contrary, the design inference on tested and reliable empirical signs such as FSCO/I is empirically credible and well supported, thus b: it is itself a tenable hypothesis (all laws of Read More ›

Was Paley a classical theist, and does his design argument lead us to a false God?

My intention in writing this post is to clear Rev. William Paley of two charges that have been leveled against him: first, that the God he argues for is different in certain vital respects from the God of classical theism, and second, that Paley’s design argument leads us to a false God: not a Creator, but a mere cosmic architect, who is a powerful but finite being, differing from us merely in degree. Both of these charges have been hurled against Paley by Associate Professor Edward Feser (who surely needs no introduction here) and by Professor Christopher F. J. Martin, of the University of St. Thomas, Department of Philosophy and Center for Thomistic Studies, in Houston, Texas. These are grave Read More ›