Squid ink: Tyson’s rhetorical trick
|November 10, 2015||Posted by News under Design inference, Intelligent Design|
Further to: Neil deGrasse Tyson on why he thinks ID must be wrong, he is relying on a rhetorical trick that works mainly among shallow people who watch smart-ass TV: Thinking about these questions as if they had no real world components.
“I think of, like, the human body, and I look at what’s going on between our legs,” Tyson said. “There’s like a sewage system and entertainment complex intermingling. No engineer of any intelligence would have designed it that way.”
Let us begin by positing what Tyson seem concerned to refute, that there is a God, who is perfect. “Immortal, invisible, God only wise,” as the hymn puts it. He is eternal and unchangeable, and can therefore BE perfect.
Life forms that exist in time, place, and circumstance cannot, of course, be perfect; we are always adapting to new circumstances.
Even if we were created by a perfect being, we could not ourselves be perfect. Every adaptation we make is due to imperfection, and we survive by adapting, until we cannot survive any more. We have a history as well, and we cannot just escape it.
So thoughtful people aim for a different standard: What is optimal, given the circumstances?
As a thoughtful person asked of Tyson’s basic thesis, where would he have put the wastewater system, given the vertebrate body design? The fingernails? Why would that be any better?
I tried to express something of this in my “tale of the closet,” a tale in which a well-organized and functional (= optimal) closet exhibits many features not present in the “perfect” closet— which could have no function in this frame of reality anyway.
But, using Tyson’s argument, one could proclaim that the optimal closet is not neat or well-organized because it is not perfect. I guess that goes down well on TV. The audience gladly confuses the concept of “perfect” with that of “optional,” then the canned applause, then the commercials…
Note: Christian Darwinists are sometimes heard to encourage this sort of misdirection: “An almighty and perfect God wouldn’t do it that way… so it must have just somehow happened via Darwinian evolution’s random walk … God didn’t really know what was going to happen; his very ignorance is a stunning example of his greatness … ”
Believe me, I heard it all when I spent time discussing such questions with stalwarts of the American Scientific Affiliation. If you want more of it, join and fund such groups. Otherwise, catch the new waves.
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