Intelligent Design

How to be a Materialist

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Hint:  Don’t think very hard about the conclusions that are logically compelled by your metaphysical premises.

Today, frequent commenter Seversky gave us an example of a materialist employing this stratagem.  UD News posted about Professor Granville Sewell’s observation that the materialist account of the origin of life is a provably unprovable proposition.  In advancing this proposition, Dr. Sewell states:

All one needs to do is realize that if a solution were found, we would have proved something obviously false, that a few (four, apparently) fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into libraries full of science texts and encyclopedias, computers connected to monitors, keyboards, laser printers and the Internet, cars, trucks, airplanes, nuclear power plants and Apple iPhones.

Is this really a valid proof? It seems perfectly valid to me, as I cannot think of anything in all of science that can be stated with more confidence than that a few unintelligent forces of physics alone could not have rearranged the basic particles of physics into Apple iPhones

To which Sev responded “I agree . . .”

Wow, this is amazing.  An inveterate materialist who has been advancing the materialist line literally night and day for 13 years has given up on the proposition that material forces, by themselves, can account for the origin of life.  With this stunning admission Sev has just given away the materialist evolutionary store.  Cause for celebration, no? 

Not so fast.  As ellipses often do, I have elided the actual substance of the quotation.  Allow me to set it out in full.  Sev, actually said:

I agree, but then that is not what is being claimed, is it? The claim is that life-forms arose from inanimate chemical precursors and they evolved into increasingly complex creatures that could eventually design and build Apple iPhones.

So Sev agrees 100% with Dr. Sewell that by themselves a few fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone could not have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into Apple iPhones.  But wait.  He thinks he has an answer to this objection.  The fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone did not rearrange the fundamental particles of physics into Apple iPhones.  Nope, not at all.  Instead, Sev avers, the fundamental forces only arranged the fundamental particles into “inanimate chemical precursors.”  And from those “inanimate chemical precursors,” increasingly complex life forms arose that eventually could design and build Apple iPhones.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.

Here is where we get to the part where it is revealed that after years of debating the topic, it is glaringly obvious that Sev has not thought very hard about the conclusions that are logically compelled by his metaphysical premises.  Let’s tease out the logic underlying Sev’s rejoinder to Dr. Sewell.

Sewell:  The claim that the fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone cannot rearrange the fundamental particles of physics into Apple iPhones is provably unprovable. 

Sev:  I agree. But that is not the claim.  The claim is that that the fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into “inanimate chemical precursors” of life forms.  Then life forms arose from these chemical precursors and evolved into increasingly complex creatures.  And it was these creatures – not the fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics – that eventually designed and built Apple iPhones.

In summary, Sev argued that the fundamental forces of physics had to carry the causal ball only so far.  Those forces only had to rearrange the fundamental particles to the point where life forms arose.  Then, those life forms evolved into intelligent agents, and those intelligent agents picked up the causal ball that resulted in Apple iPhones.

Where did Sev’s logic go off the rails?  Sev blundered when he introduced the (unspoken) premise that there was a fundamental ontological discontinuity between “inanimate chemical precursors” and the lifeforms that arise from those precursors.  Nothing should be clearer than that under materialist metaphysics there was not any such discontinuity.  Indeed, the whole point of materialism is that there can never be such a discontinuity.

The most fundamental premise of materialism – the premise from which everything else follows – is that everything that exists, without exception, can be explained in reductionist terms.  In other words, the cause of everything that exists can be traced back in purely material terms to the interaction of the fundamental forces with the fundamental particles.  There can be no exception to this causal chain, because if there were even one exception the whole materialist house of cards would come tumbling down.

So, Sev, it really is the claim under materialism that Apple iPhones were caused by nothing but the fundamental forces of nature rearranging the fundamental particles.  And if, as you say, you agree with Dr. Sewell that that is provably unprovable, then you have conceded his argument.

Here is the grand irony of Sev’s argument.  It is a DESIGN ARGUMENT.  In its most basic terms, the ID argument boils down to this: It is unlikely that the fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone can rearrange the fundamental particles of physics into complex specified information and irreducibly complex artifacts. This has certainly never been observed to have happened. On the other hand, there are countless trillions of examples of intelligent agents creating complex specified information and irreducibly complex artifacts.  Therefore, we make an abductive inference. The best explanation for the existence of any particular instance of complex specified information or an irreducibly complex artifact (such as an iPhone) is “act of intelligent agent.”  It turns out that Sev agrees with this line of thinking even as he frenetically tries to undermine it.

Back to the title of this post.  Materialists must work very had to avert their gaze from the logical conclusions compelled by their metaphysical premises.  One of those conclusions is that genocide and sacrificial love are equally meaningless, because there is no objective moral standard by which to judge the difference between them.  Another is that blind unguided physical forces are competent to produce iPhones, because under their premises there is no other candidate for the job.

As I have often said before, no sane person acts as if materialism is actually true.  No one believes that genocide and sacrificial love are equally meaningless.  No one believes that blind unguided physical forces can produce iPhones.  And occasionally the façade slips and a materialist will admit as much, as Sev unwittingly did today.

5 Replies to “How to be a Materialist

  1. 1

    Materialism is better explained by psychology.

    People like to fundamentally conceive of making a choice in terms of figuring out the best option. And if you look up the verb “choose” on google search, then you can see the word is defined in those terms.

    This definition of choice is psychologically appealing, for many reasons. Maybe the same reasons that the computer game Candy Crush is appealing. You do your best, you pick the best, you are rewarded psychologically.

    So then, because obviously there is no physics of the “best”, choice must therefore be a cultural fantasy, and not a reality of physics.

    Then choice becomes to be understood as like a chesscomputer calculating a move, in a forced way. This is the same as the original sin of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What is good and evil are established as facts, and then an optimal options is calculated, using the facts of good and evil to evaluate the options with.

    Defining choice that way, it means materialists have done away with the entire spirtual domain, and that therefore everything must be material.

    So materialism is a consequence of the psychological appeal to define making a choice in terms of what is best, and there is really no intellectual reason that people come up with it as a good working explanation.

    The proper fundamental understanding of making a choice is in terms of spontaneous expression of emotion. In science that is then called randomness. The emotion part is cut in science, because emotions are inherently subjective, meaning they can only be identified with a chosen opinion. This definition of choice is scientific, this choice is a reality of physics.

    To choose in terms of what is best is still valid, but only as a complex way of choosing, based on the correct fundamental definition of choice in terms of spontaneity. The error only occurs when to choose in terms of what is best, is made the fundamental definition of making a choice.

    Creationist conceptual scheme:
    1. Creator / chooses / spiritual / subjective / opinion
    2. Creation / chosen / material / objective / fact

    Emotions would be in category number 1, together with personal character, feelings, the spirit, the soul, God.

    The materialist uses the following conceptual scheme:
    1. Material / fact
    2. see 1.

    So really the materialist has no proper validation for choice, and personal opinion.

    It is very obviously true that this is so.

    Materialists are generally all fact obsessed. They always go on and on about the facts and science. Hardly ever do they mention personal opinion.

    Materialists generally have problems with free will. Indeed they redefine free will to make it use the logic of being forced.

    Materialists always improperly use subjective terminology in an objectified sense. As like to state as “fact” that a painting is beautiful. State as fact what emotions are in someone’s “brain”. State as fact of biology what the personal character of someone is.

    Someone like Dawkins, with his “selfish gene” theory. The sole reason that Dawkins is popular, is because the word “selfish” is ordinarily used as a subjective word, while he co-opted the word as objective terminology. If Dawkins had written some book proposing the gene as the unit of selection, using neutral terminology, Dawkins would not be popular.

    What materialists do is throw out all emotions, all subjectivity, together with throwing out God. It’s a total holocaust horrorshow, it is totally anti-human, as well as anti-God. Materialists are total and utter monsters.

    But, only their intellectual persona is horrific. The materialists still has a common persona, which is much normal, because creationist logic of choice is inherent in common discourse.

    A materialist is very much two persons. In dealing with a materialist, they always have that monstrous intellectual persona hanging in the back, looking over their shoulder, apart from their common persona.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    And to make Seversky’s materialistic dilemma all the more acute, the simplest life ever found on earth is far, far, more complex than an Apple iPhone. 🙂

    To Model the Simplest Microbe in the World, You Need 128 Computers – July 2012
    Excerpt: Mycoplasma genitalium has one of the smallest genomes of any free-living organism in the world, clocking in at a mere 525 genes. That’s a fraction of the size of even another bacterium like E. coli, which has 4,288 genes.,,,
    The bioengineers, led by Stanford’s Markus Covert, succeeded in modeling the bacterium, and published their work last week in the journal Cell. What’s fascinating is how much horsepower they needed to partially simulate this simple organism. It took a cluster of 128 computers running for 9 to 10 hours to actually generate the data on the 25 categories of molecules that are involved in the cell’s lifecycle processes.,,,
    ,,the depth and breadth of cellular complexity has turned out to be nearly unbelievable, and difficult to manage, even given Moore’s Law. The M. genitalium model required 28 subsystems to be individually modeled and integrated, and many critics of the work have been complaining on Twitter that’s only a fraction of what will eventually be required to consider the simulation realistic.,,,
    http://www.theatlantic.com/tec.....rs/260198/

    Minimal Cell Challenges Naturalism – March 26, 2016
    Excerpt: “If we’re already playing God, we’re not doing a particularly good job of it,” Elfick says. “Simply streamlining what’s already in nature doesn’t seem very God-like and, if anything, is a very humbling exercise.”
    Venter also felt the humility vibes, according to Live Science:
    “We’re showing how complex life is even in the simplest of organisms,” said Craig Venter, founder and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), where the study was completed. “These findings are very humbling in that regard.”
    http://crev.info/2016/03/minim.....aturalism/

  3. 3
    Sandy says:

    Bornagain77
    To Model the Simplest Microbe in the World, You Need 128 Computers – July 2012

    …and to produce the Simplest Microbe in the World, You Need [ 🙂 how many ] Computers?

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, I find it interesting to observe that the so-called simplest cell based life form vastly exceeds the complexity of iPhones etc. In short, to sidestep the design inference on FSCO/I, Sev pointed to a vastly more complex design challenge. But somehow the perception has been created and spread that cell based life is simple to get to from a Darwin pond or whatever, and so poof the issue disappears. We need to notice that, in a context where we have taken time over and over again to address the OOL challenge and origin of body plan challenge. It seems clear there is a deeply institutionalised narrative blinding many to the patent realities of the cell. KF

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    Isn’t seversky’s Response just a way to skirt the question

    I’ve dealt with this before and that’s how I was able to actually refuted

    It’s a skirt move you really can’t answer the question so you mention the obvious and it is an obvious fact that we created cell phones

    It doesn’t answer the question why cell phones didn’t evolve on their own

    It doesn’t answer the question why computers which are more simplistic than human brains didn’t involve on their own

    All of these things had to have assistance for them to come into existence

    But he can avoid the question by stating an obvious fact and just saying that’s how evolution did it

    The sad thing is it’s just a tactic to avoid actually answering the question

    Because it never really answered the question in the first place

    It also uses the anthropomorphic principal to try to get away from the question

    Which in itself becomes a God of gaps argument

    That’s how evolution did it

    So why didn’t the toaster evolve on its own even though evolution can totally explain it

    Well because evolution evolve humans which created toasters and that’s just how evolution did it

    That is God of gaps

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