Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Does intelligent design theory oppose atheism as such?


File:Wild Pig KSC02pd0873.jpg No. Here’s one way of looking at it:

Philosophy begins when a man chooses to take seriously the fact that he is not a pig.

The pig does not learn that he is a pig, he just is one and it works, end of story.

The man learns that he is a man. He can make whatever he wants of being a man, but he cannot be a pig, even if he would prefer it.

Almost everything Darwin’s latter day followers despise about ID actually arises after that discovery but before we even consider religion. We might say that the man has discovered that he is not wholly a natural (material) phenomenon. He knows his discovery is correct because if he were a wholly natural phenomenon, he would not have discovered the fact. Even if everything else is a wholly natural phenomenon (i.e., nature is all there is), he and his fellows are not.

There is, however, one other possibility: He (and they) evolved in such a way as to undergo the illusions of consciousness, morality, free will, self, etc, because these illusions help spread selfish genes. The illusions do not necessarily correspond to anything else in nature.

All the issues around the origin and development of life, humans, consciousness, and free will, and most of the issues around the multiverse will proceed roughly the same if you believe any widely accepted non-naturalist account of origins and differently if you believe the naturalist (Darwinian) one in the paragraph above

For example, if you believe the naturalist account, you will interpret the Big Bang and fine-tuning by postulating infinitely many never-observed universes that flopped (and ours was an accidental survivor). That will be science for you. How do we know an infinity of flopped universes exists? Because that is the only naturalist explanation of our own universe looking designed and only a naturalist explanation – however absurd – can be accepted.

File:Phoenician waw.svg To the non-naturalist, it looks like nonsense, spouted to avoid drawing an obvious conclusion. But that is because the non-naturalist does not think that nature is all there is. He is prepared to accept design as real, at least in principle, and meaning and purpose as possible. From there, paths diverge. If you picture the mental geography as a forked road, the non-naturalist fork in the road (the left one, for pictorial convenience) breaks up shortly afterward into many smaller roads. But they are all roads branching out from the non-naturalist fork, not the naturalist one on the right.

All naturalist accounts explain away the mind because they must. The naturalist is forced to adopt ridiculous explanations, as long as they are naturalist (for example, the proposal that consciousness might be ”perceptronium,” a hypothetical state of matter).

All non-naturalist accounts, by contrast, reject modern naturalism as incoherent. That is to say, they reject any account beginning with “Your brain evolved so as to be unable to accept what I am about to tell you.”

At minimum, the non-naturalist believes that getting the right handle on questions is what the brain evolved to do. And the most likely reason for not believing in the selfish gene or perceptronium is that they are nonsense concepts that do not assist with the matters in hand.

Non-naturalists do not attempt to explain away the mind even if they are atheists. As David Snoke notes, in his review of Thomas Nagel’s Mind & Cosmos, naturalist accounts of the mind are the focus of Nagel’s dissent from Darwin. Other atheists, along with theists and pantheists, reach their tolerance limit over other issues, usually an issue where we are commanded to believe a woefully inadequate naturalist dictum.

If you choose the non-naturalist fork, you will end up having to follow one of the branches. But all those branches are off a road that leads in a different direction from the naturalist one.

So non-materialist atheists are not a problem for the ID community as such. The community is united mainly by the fact that we all live along the same fork of the road, so we are affected by the same neighbourhood issues. While we may differ on the answers to some questions, there are solutions we simply won’t accept because there would be no point living here if we did. Most of the atheists we find ourselves in conflict with live on the other, naturalist branch of the road. – O’Leary for News

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology) and The Science Fictions series fingertips (origin of life)

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Denizens? "Good Christians"? Hate? Wedge? Yikes! "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Sorry, hate takes too much emotional energy. I'm groovin' on love, joy, peace, kindness, wisdom, did I mention joy? A typical anti/non-discrimination policy reads, ". . . to provide equal educational and employment opportunities and not to illegally discriminate on the basis of gender, race, national origin, religion, age, marital status, or disability." Sounds to me like you have a lot of anger against people of a certain religion. -Q Querius
Its all part of the deal. The denizens of this blog are all good Christians and all hate materialism. Its built in to the original wedge document. Graham2
Graham2, Believe it or not, at your suggestion I read the About statement for the first time, where the author of the blog puts forward a statement of his belief. Are you saying that the About statement is an example of being "viscerally opposed" to atheism? I'm not even sure that atheism is a precondition for materialism. Or maybe it's vice versa, I'm not sure. Or maybe we're just a gross science experiment in a lab refrigerator at a mechanistically inclined alien university. ;-) -Q Querius
Querius: You should hang around this blog a bit, you will soon get the idea. From the very first line of the site mission statement: Materialistic ideology has subverted the study of ... See ? Already decided. Graham2
Graham2, As a Christian, I'm not "viscerally opposed" to atheism. You can believe whatever you choose and do whatever your heart desires as far as I'm concerned. I have no mission to change your behavior. I do ache for those people who are dissatisfied with their lives and who are looking for a radical change. To those people, I have some good news to share, based on the Bible and my personal experiences. In contrast, many years ago I was invited to participate in an NPR program. I was contacted by an NPR representative who interviewed me over the phone. When in answer to one of her questions I revealed that I was a Christian, she angrily asked me why I hadn't told her that in the first place and ended the interview. And that was that. I was a bit surprised of course, but I wasn't angry or viscerally opposed to her. Besides, I was pretty busy and this would have been more like a favor. Oh well. -Q Querius
Whatever 'intelligent design theory' is, its not this that is so viscerally opposed to atheism, its the ID proponents. Graham2
OT: Scientists unlock a 'microbial Pompeii' - February 23, 2014 Excerpt: "...The researchers discovered that the ancient human oral microbiome already contained the basic genetic machinery for antibiotic resistance more than eight centuries before the invention of the first therapeutic antibiotics in the 1940s..." http://phys.org/news/2014-02-scientists-microbial-pompeii.html bornagain77
Interesting post. Just one problem.
For example, if you believe the naturalist account, you will interpret the Big Bang and fine-tuning by postulating infinitely many never-observed universes that flopped (and ours was an accidental survivor). That will be science for you. The evidence for the never-observed flopped universes is the apparent (but in your view, illusory) design of our own.
I think I can come up with two possible problems here, of a sort. First is Nick Bostrom's simulation hypothesis. This seems to be an ID concept, yet at the same time it (according to Nick) hinges on some form of materialism being true. Second, re: infinite universes - it would seem that if there are infinite universes, then at least some of those universes will have in them simulated universes (again, granting Bostrom.) Of course, I think 'naturalism' is vacuous, and that an infinite multiverse automatically puts one in the category of polytheist, not atheist. nullasalus
Don't agree with this 100%:
The man learns that he is a man. He can make whatever he wants of being a man, but he cannot be a pig, even if he would prefer it.
I know someone whose wife told him he's a pig ;-) Dionisio
The devastating flaw with the materialist's/atheist's contention that his mind is merely an illusion is that, courtesy of CS Lewis and Plantinga, obviously the atheist/materialist cannot then use the thoughts of his mind to try to establish that his mind is merely an illusion.
But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God." —C.S. Lewis
How come C.S. Lewis becomes more and more crystal clear the older I get? This line of 'thought' has been refined by Alvin Plantinga:
"Refuting Naturalism by Citing our own Consciousness" Dr. Alvin Plantinga (Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism) - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r34AIo-xBh8
Supplemental notes:
The Confidence of Jerry Coyne - Ross Douthat - January 6, 2014 Excerpt: then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant:,,) Read more here: http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/the-confidence-of-jerry-coyne/?_r=0 Alvin Plantinga and the Modal Argument (for the existence of the soul) - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOTn_wRwDE0
Here are six properties of the mind that are not properties of the brain. Thus, in keeping with the law of identity, the mind is not same thing as the brain:
Six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds - podcast and summary (Law of Identity: 6 properties of mind that are not identical to properties of the brain, thus the mind is not the brain) http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/six-reasons-why-you-should-believe-in-non-physical-minds/ The Mind and Materialist Superstition - Six "conditions of mind" that are irreconcilable with materialism: Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY, Stony Brook Excerpt: Intentionality,,, Qualia,,, Persistence of Self-Identity,,, Restricted Access,,, Incorrigibility,,, Free Will,,, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/11/the_mind_and_materialist_super.html Darwinism and Materialism: They Sink or Swim Together By Tom Bethell on Sept. 18, 2013 (Excellent Review Of Darwin's Doubt) Excerpt: Meyer also reviews the “Rules of Science” decreeing what is permitted if an investigation is to be called scientific. “Methodological naturalism” is the main one today: Only material causes are permitted. That rule is the basis for Darwinian accusations that ID is creationism. ID does admit non-material causes, thereby flouting the (recently imposed) rule obliging scientists to adhere to naturalism all the way. Yet science itself abounds with non-material entities. Information is non-material and if it is essential for building organisms, how is it transmitted to the three-dimensional world of matter? There’s an obvious parallel, Meyer points out. How are the decisions we make in our own conscious minds transmitted to the world of physical matter? We know every day that we can transform our mental decisions into physical acts. We choose to lift our arm, and it lifts. Neuroscience hopes to explain this materially — to show how the brain’s nerve endings translate into consciousness, thence into acts. But one may predict that they will keep looking for a long time, because the gulf separating matter and consciousness is greater than that separating us from the remotest galaxy. That doesn’t mean that mind is too remote, unreal, or can be excluded from science. Mind is within us and nothing can be closer. Without it, the very ideas, theories, and arguments of science wouldn’t exist. If our own minds can disturb matter in ways that cannot be explained by materialists, is it not possible that some larger or more encompassing Mind can impact the world of nature? No, say the materialists. Why not? Because, in their philosophy, matter is all that exists. That’s why they call themselves materialists. And that is why Thomas Nagel’s book is so significant. His book is subtitled “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.” Incidentally, Nagel has also gone out of his way to praise Stephen Meyer. http://spectator.org/archives/2013/09/18/darwinism-and-materialism-they/2 Anxiety May Shorten Your Cell Life - July 12, 2012 Excerpt: These studies had the advantage of large data sets involving thousands of participants. If the correlations remain robust in similar studies, it would indicate that mental states and lifestyle choices can produce epigenetic effects on our genes. http://crev.info/2012/07/anxiety-may-shorten-your-cell-life/ Scientists Finally Show How Your Thoughts Can Cause Specific Molecular Changes To Your Genes, - December 10, 2013 Excerpt: “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.,,, the researchers say, there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators following mindfulness practice. In addition, several other DNA-modifying genes showed no differences between groups, suggesting that the mindfulness practice specifically affected certain regulatory pathways. http://www.tunedbody.com/scientists-finally-show-thoughts-can-cause-specific-molecular-changes-genes/
This following video humorously reveals the bankruptcy that atheists/materialists have in trying to ground beliefs within a materialistic, genetic reductionism, worldview;
John Cleese – The Scientists – humorous video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

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