A Materialist Gets It (Almost)
|March 22, 2018||Posted by Barry Arrington under Intelligent Design|
A recent exchange with Allan Keith illustrates how materialists have allowed their intellect to become literally enslaved to their metaphysical commitments. Allan proves one can understand the logic fully and even accept the logic. And then turn right around and deny the conclusions compelled by the logic. Let’s see how:
We will pick up the exchange where Allan has admitted that we have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity caused by humans.
You admit that we have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity from humans. So far so good.
What is it about humans that enables them to cause those things Allan? Intelligence.
So now we have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity from humans on account of their intelligence.
We have observed exactly ZERO instances of any other cause accounting for functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.
Put it together Allan. Human intelligence is the only certainly known source of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.
Therefore, when we see functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity whose origins we do not know, we have a choice:
1 Attribute it to the only cause known with certainty to produce it, i.e. intelligence.
2 Attribute it to causes that have never been observed producing it.
Answer 1 is obviously best.
Option 1 does not follow from your logic. The logical option 1 would be: Attribute it to the only cause known with certainty to produce it, i.e. Human intelligence.
I understand Allan’s metaphysical commitments prevent him from following the logic beyond a certain point, but his response is still very sad. I wonder if he ever gets tired of wearing those blinkers.
What is wrong with Allan’s reply? It steadfastly ignores the glaringly obvious fact that intelligence (not the more narrow “human intelligence”) is the causal factor.
In other words, the thing about humans that makes them a special case is not that they are a member of the Animalia kingdom, or the Chordata phylum, or the Mammalia class, or the Primate order, or the Homo genus or the Homo sapiens species. The thing that distinguishes humans is reflected in the name of the species. (“Homo sapiens” means literally “wise man.”) The distinguishing characteristic of the species is intelligence.
It is that characteristic and nothing else that accounts for the ability of Homo sapiens to cause functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.*
Now it is certainly true that the species Homo sapiens is the only species of which we have observational evidence that it causes functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity. Allan seems to believe that fact compels the conclusion that we can infer only “human design” from an observed instance of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.
Nonsense. Not even Allan’s fellow materialists agree with him:
BEN STEIN: What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in Darwinian evolution.
DAWKINS: Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer. . . . And that Designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe. But that higher intelligence would itself have had to have come about by some explicable, or ultimately explicable process. It couldn’t have just jumped into existence spontaneously. That’s the point
Dawkins understands, as Allan apparently does not, that it is the intelligence, not its instantiation in any particular species, that is important when it comes to inferring design.
To his credit, Allan now admits the obvious:
Design inference is based almost solely on a comparison to human design. This can certainly be used to infer design in biology . . .
But he cannot resist adding an unwarranted disclaimer:
. . . but with only one known source of intelligence as a frame of reference, the inference is weak. That is statistical reality speaking, not me. But even a weak inference can strengthen support for ID if there were other avenues of examination that support ID.
Why does Allan consider the inference weak? Because his metaphysical commitments, not logic, compel that conclusion. Again, here is the logic:
- Object X exhibits functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.
- The ONLY KNOWN CAUSE of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity is design by an intelligent agent.
- Inferring to best explanation, the only known cause of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity (i.e., intelligent design) is the cause of the functional complexity, semiosis or irreducible complexity in Object X.
Allan insists the inference is “weak,” even though he admits the inference as to cause is to the only known cause of the phenomenon. Why? Statistics. Nonsense. It is not a statistical analysis. It is a logical analysis.
*Let’s not get bogged down with beavers and bees. The international space station is obviously different in kind and not merely degree from a beaver dam. Anyone who denies this disqualifies themselves from being considered serious.