Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

People’s Choice Awards: Our most read stories October 2013


(Top three in January (here), February here), March here), April (here), May (here), June here, July here, August here, September here.)

1. Barry Arrington: Please Take the Time to Understand Our Arguments Before You Attack Them (runaway favourite, 856 comments) Near as the News Desk can make out, Darwin’s followers think that consciousness is an adaptive illusion, so it’s unclear what Arrington means here by “understand” arguments. Isn’t this the way it’s supposed to work, in their view?: They listen until they hear something that happens to trigger the “Shut UP!” gene that triggers the development of the “Shut UP!” neuron? Isn’t that the reason Evolution News & Views is holding a “Censor of the Year” contest? Anyway, he says,

For what seems like the ten thousandth time: ID does not posit that the existence of complex specified information and irreducibly complex structures within living systems compels “act of an intelligent agent” as a matter of logical necessity. ID posits that given our universal experience concerning complex specified information and irreducibly complex structures where the provenance of such has been actually observed, the best explanation of the existence of these same things in living structures is “act of intelligent agent.”

If we cared to write a paper, we could demonstrate that some people make a living from not recognizing that fact and keeping others from recognizing it.

2. Barry Arrington: TEs Must Say the Explanation of an Illusion is Itself an Illusion as the Price of Admission to the “Cool Kids” Club Cool Kids, meet the Cold Showers Club. Where atheist cosmologies do not get a Free Lunch and Darwinian biology must pass probability tests. And prior commitments must be acknowledged, a stumbling block for many.

Why do YECs reject uniformitarianism? Because they are devoted to a particular interpretation of the Biblical creation account. They believe the Bible says the universe was created in six days a few thousand years ago, and if they are going to believe the Bible is true they must therefore believe the universe was created in six days a few thousand years ago. It does no good to appeal to logic or evidence. As I have demonstrated above, a young universe is not a logical impossibility and no matter what evidence you adduce that, to you, indicates the universe is very old, the YEC will have an answer (e.g., “light has slowed down”).

I was thinking about this yesterday when we were discussing the theistic evolutionists (TEs) over at BioLogos. TEs are like YECs in this respect — they cling to a scientific view that runs counter to the obvious evidence because of their prior commitments.

Let me explain what I mean. Just as it is “obvious” that the universe appears to be several billion years old, it is “obvious” that living things appear to have been designed for a purpose. That statement is not based on my religious beliefs; even the atheists believe that living things appear to have been designed for a purpose. Arch-atheist Richard Dawkins famously said that “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Surely our friends at BioLogos will go as far as atheist Dawkins and admit that living things “appear” to have been designed for a purpose.

Now notice the similarity between TEs and YECs: Everyone concedes that the universe appears to be billions of years old; everyone concedes that living things appear to have been designed for a purpose. YECs say the first appearance is an illusion. TEs say the second appearance is an illusion.

3. kairosfocus: Is the design inference fatally flawed because our uniform, repeated experience shows that a designing mind is based on or requires a brain?

In essence, without responsible freedom (the very opposite of what would be implied by mechanical processing and chance) there is no basis for rationality, responsibility and capacity to think beyond the determination of the accidents of our programming. No to mention, there is no empirically based demonstration of the capability of blind chance and mechanical necessity to incrementally write the required complex software through incremental chance variations and differential reproductive success. All that is simply assumed, explicitly or implicitly in a frame of thought controlled by evolutionary materialism as an a priori. So, we have a lack of demonstrated causal adequacy problem right at the outset. (Not that that will be more than a speed-bump for those determined to proceed under the materialist reigning orthodoxy. But we should note that the vera causa principle has been violated, we do not have empirically demonstrated causal adequacy here. By contrast such brain software as is doubtless there, is blatantly chock full of FSCO/I, and the hardware involved is likewise chock full of the same. The only empirically warranted cause adequate to create such — whether or not RDF likes to bury it in irrelevancies — is design. We must not forget that inconvenient fact. [And we will in due course again speak to the issue as to whether empirical evidence warrants the conclusion that designing minds must be based on or require brains.])

A good second point is a clip from Malcolm Nicholson’s review of the eminent philosopher Nagel’s recent Mind and Cosmos:

If we’re to believe [materialism dominated] science, we’re made of organs and cells. These cells are made up of organic matter. Organic matter is made up chemicals. This goes all the way down to strange entities like quarks and Higgs bosons. We’re also conscious, thinking things. You’re reading these words and making sense of them. We have the capacity to reason abstractly and grapple with various desires and values. It is the fact that we’re conscious and rational that led us to believe in things like Higgs bosons in the first place.

But what if [materialism-dominated] science is fundamentally incapable of explaining our own existence as thinking things? What if it proves impossible to fit human beings neatly into the world of subatomic particles and laws of motion that [materialism-dominated] science describes? In Mind and Cosmos (Oxford University Press), the prominent philosopher Thomas Nagel’s latest book, he argues that science alone will never be able to explain a reality that includes human beings. What is needed is a new way of looking at and explaining reality; one which makes mind and value as fundamental as atoms and evolution . . . . More.

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