Intelligent Design

Theos / Comres report – Intelligent Design supporters ‘highest educated’

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The Theos funded report on attitudes to evolution and creation in UK society has now been published. It gives a confusing picture, although that didn’t stop the Guardian taking one figure out of context to give the spin required by the paper. Guardian news item Theos news item

The report, Faith and Darwin written by Comres not Theos to avoid bias, commented on page 102.

“Despite the decrease of religious practice in the UK and the recent media coverage of issues of science and faith, there is still a core of people who hold to Young Earth Creationism. However, interestingly, the youngest generations and highest educated people show inclinations towards believing in Intelligent Design. Could this be a pointer towards the dominant trend of tomorrow?”

Elsewhere, on pages 18-19, it gave a profile of a typical intelligent design supporter.

“[He is typically] 25 has just completed a master’s degree, believes that the complexity of life on earth can only be explained by Intelligent Design. He believes there is a God or higher power of some sort, though is unwilling to be drawn on whether that is the God his grandmother believes in or some other force. Evolution, he says, is still just a theory that is waiting to be proved or disproved by the evidence. It doesn’t offer a serious challenge to the question of ultimate purpose in life, and does not contradict his view that humans have unique value and significance. He thinks science challenges religious faith, but is happy to live with this tension and remains open-minded about how evolutionary theory and Christianity relate to each other. Unlike his father, he thinks children should be introduced to Intelligent Design in school, but while his grandmother would like to see it taught in science lessons as an alternative to evolution, he agrees with his mother that it is a more appropriate subject for discussion in subjects such as RE.”

However, Paul Wolley of Theos continues to promote his belief in theistic evolution, calling on people to carefully weigh the evidence for evolution. It would seem though that many of the best educated have concluded that Darwinian explanations cannot explain all of life.

Furthermore, Theos continue to assert that Darwin’s ides have little consequence for theistic belief despite the fact that Darwin’s writing, correspondence and acquaintances are complicated and Darwin seemed to have had feet in a number of camps. Darwin for instance seemed to give tacit approval to the activity of T.H. Huxley who was developing a sense of conflict between science and faith while promoting Darwin’s work; at least there is little evidence that Darwin did anything to question Huxley.
Science and Values

52 Replies to “Theos / Comres report – Intelligent Design supporters ‘highest educated’

  1. 1
    nullasalus says:

    I think one large part of this is because the successes of science mean that, whatever one may think about the past, the future of biological development is ‘intelligent design’. And the fact that we can exert control over biological development now, and will increase that capability in the future, it continues to encourage us to look at the past with an eye for or expectation of design being at work.

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    Prominent anti-ID crusaders (Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, et. al.) would have people believe that ID proponents are a bunch of poorly educated “creationist” dolts with low IQ’s and no ability to think rationally, and who believe silly ideas based on blind faith and fantasy.

    However, I’ve observed just the opposite. Most of the ID people I know are well-educated and bright, and a disproportionate percentage of them seem to be engineers, especially software engineers. There is a reason for this in my opinion. Software engineers recognize a digital information-processing system when they encounter one, and know that such engines require design, and lots of it.

    I’m a software engineer in aerospace R&D. I’d be interested to discover in which fields the most frequent ID-proponent UD contributors are involved. You all know who you are. How about posting that information in this thread, just to satisfy curiosity?

  3. 3
    Stephen Morris says:

    To reply to GilDodgen @2;

    I’m just an occasional poster here, but for what it’s worth my field is optical instrumentation, with a specific emphasis on using advanced optimization algorithms on complex optical data. I guess that fits.

  4. 4
    Arthur Smith says:

    My grandfather fought for England in the First World War. Like many others, he returned disillusioned with Christianity. I suspect England was set on a course of Godlessness from that time.

  5. 5
    bFast says:

    Software engineers recognize a digital information-processing system when they encounter one, and know that such engines require design, and lots of it.

    You’ve got my number.

    I’ve developed advanced image enhancement technology for which I have been awarded 7 patents. Though I only have a bachelor’s degree, The U.S. INS has formally declared that I have the equivelant of an advanced degree in computer science. Though I am Christian, it is the programmer in me, much more than the Christian, that sees neo-Darwinism as unbelievable.

  6. 6
    sxussd13 says:

    Software engineers recognize a digital information-processing system when they encounter one, and know that such engines require design, and lots of it.

    Add me to the list! Even though I am mostly into web development and application engineering, graphic design and reverse engineering is my second passion.

    Though I am Christian, it is the programmer in me, much more than the Christian, that sees neo-Darwinism as unbelievable.

    I second that bfast!

  7. 7
    uoflcard says:

    Mechanical Engineer, about to complete Master’s degree, almost 24 (the article nailed that). I think the reason Engineers are more likely to side with ID is because they realize a complex system has to WORK, and it is challenging to do so. Evolving from a simple system to a complex one (or even worse, a complex system to a different complex system) via slight, successive, but progressively beneficial mutations would be an incredible challenge for a team of engineers. That is why we have such a difficult time believing that life randomly bumped its way to developing much of anything, much less the incredible machinery found all throughout biology.

  8. 8
    uoflcard says:

    I found this very interesting article from July 2006 about the amazing functions of fish in extreme conditions. One section is about the Crucian Carp, which is able to live for months without oxygen. Check out this gem of a quote:

    “Anoxia related diseases are the major causes of death in the industrialized world. We have here a situation where evolution has solved the problem of anoxic survival millions of years ago, something that medical science has struggled with for decades with limited success”, said Professor Nilsson.

    So decades of the smartest people in the world dedicating their lives to it can barely scratch the surface, yet of course random + selection did it. FACT.

    The researchers hope that understanding how some animals cope with anoxia might give clues as to how to solve this problem in humans.

    I’m sure this is thought by some to be proof of the usefulness of neoD, when really it’s a use of ID. They’re reverse engineering a wildly complex and brilliant system, not tracing the evolutionary increments for how it came to be.

  9. 9
    JDH says:

    Me too.

    Only an occasional commenter here, but I am a Ph.D. physicist who moved over into software engineering in the ’90s. I have worked both in digital imaging and software security fields.

  10. 10
    Tim says:

    A sporadic poster . . . and I hope this doesn’t skew us too much toward stupid, but I am not degreed in any scientific or engineering area. However, I routinely do the N. Y. Times Sunday crossword puzzle — and in pen! Is that a field?
    ((“I have a M. Ed.,” he said in a hushed tone.))

  11. 11
    SCheesman says:

    …undergrad in engineering, then geophysics, now doing software development in the earth sciences.

  12. 12
    Borne says:

    Another software dude here.

    I only have a Bachelors in computer science too.
    Not sure any of the following counts but : I used to be a flight instructor – light aircraft – taught theory as well ;navigation, aerodynamics, meteorology, propulsion systems etc..

    I’ve also done a lot of theological studies (at least equivalent to a masters) and pastoral work. Speak, read & write 2 languages fluently – english, french (a little spanish) and I can translate Hebrew if given a good dictionary 😉 haha

    Did some pro photography a long time back too.
    I’m also a professional musician (when time allows)- guitar – mostly rock, shred, blues etc.

    ID is the only scientific game left in town where biology is concerned, afaic. Darwinism, no matter what form it takes, just doesn’t cut it at all – neither logically or experimentally.

    Whatever … for what it’s worth… 🙂

  13. 13
    Atom says:

    Software engineer as well, as many on here know.

    uoflcard said it best:

    Evolving from a simple system to a complex one (or even worse, a complex system to a different complex system) via slight, successive, but progressively beneficial mutations would be an incredible challenge for a team of engineers. That is why we have such a difficult time believing that life randomly bumped its way to developing much of anything, much less the incredible machinery found all throughout biology.

    We build info-processing machines; we know the effort it takes every time we transform them, while retaining functionality. Good luck random walk.

  14. 14
    Matteo says:

    I’m not a frequent commenter, but: hardware/software engineer (BSEE from Berkeley, 1987, emphasis on integrated circuits), with lots of chip/system level work under my belt. Everything from new silicon/board debug, through writing simulators, compilers, and other system-level tools from scratch. Maybe a quarter million lines of code, from assembly level up through abstract object-oriented systems. And 5 patents. In short, a total idiot, lacking any right to opine on the question of design in biological systems, and too deluded to see that Darwinism has the same logical force as the Theorem of Pythagoras.

    Also, an instrument-rated pilot working on being a flight instructor.

    Ah well, being this dumb is its own punishment…

  15. 15
    Avonwatches says:

    Not a frequent poster but forever reading UD.

    Currently in my 4th year (out of 5) of Veterinary Science at Sydney Uni.

    By the by, Darwinism has *no* value within the course, not even from theory (and our curriculum is U.S. + U.K. accredited). Despite being the ‘foundation of biology’, in just over a year I’ll be certified to treat any animal under the sun (bar humans) without knowing a thing about the all-important Darwin picture. Crazy world, huh?

  16. 16
    Thomas Cudworth says:

    Sorry, too old to match the ideal “25” of the survey, but put me down for a year of science and an “arts” Ph.D. Cannot boast of any accomplishment in crossword puzzles. No religious motivation involved in rejecting Darwinism as ludicrously improbable and suspiciously short on detailed descriptions of purported mechanisms.

  17. 17
    bFast says:

    Thomas Cudworth, “No religious motivation involved in rejecting Darwinism”

    In this you are not all that uncommon, and are the ultimate proof of the falsehood of the ID = religion canard.

  18. 18
    pharmgirl says:

    I just found this site a few weeks ago, but everything I’ve learned in molecular bio, biochem, etc. has pointed toward intelligent design. I’m 2 years from completing my PharmD.

  19. 19
    Berceuse says:

    B.S. in Electrical Engineering – emphasis in DSP and Communications

  20. 20
    tribune7 says:

    I remember thinking that evo was B.S. while in high school without any religious prompting.

    All life comes from as single cell? I couldn’t buy it and I was right. And a tree of life with just two kingdoms? I should have written it up and I would have had a Nobel prize at age 14.

  21. 21
    Ferdi Tern says:

    Hi!
    This will be my first post. I’ve been a regular visitor/reader of UD for 3 years now. I have a degree in Computer Science majoring in Information Systems, specializing in Data Structures, Systems Analysis and Design, and Programming. I also am a graduate of ID (Industrial Design , that is) Currently, I am a software tester.

  22. 22
    Platonist says:

    This is a very interesting post. Thanks Mr. Sibley.

  23. 23
    CannuckianYankee says:

    I am probably the least formally credentialed lurker here, and perhaps the most ideologically oriented. I am interested in ID because I am a Christian. ID allows me to be an intellectually fulfilled theist.

    I don’t have a formal degree. My college background is in sociology, philosophy and psychology.

    I have interests in philosophy and psychology, and the New York Times crossword. No, just kidding.

    However, what I have discovered about ID has practical applications in my field.

    I am currently a Program Director for a Specialized Behavioral / Special Treatment Program for adults with mental illnesses and/or developmental disabilities.

    A few observations I have made in the field over the years are in the area of behaviorism vs. self-determination / free-will. Thus, I have been greatly interested in the blog entries of Neoroscientist, Dr. Michael Egnor over at Evolution News And Views.

    In the field of behavioral health there appear to be some contradictions between those who study psychology and the practical application of behavioral therapy. In my job I have been required to attend various county mentl health trainings in the area of what is commonly referred to as the “Recovery Model.” The Recovery Model is clearly based in non-materialist notions of free-will and self-determination. The basis of the Recovery Model is the well researched discovery that when patients are allowed to make their own decisions regarding recovery from the chronic symptoms of their mental illness that deem them “gravely disabled,” their progrnosis is more promising. Hence, the common belief among those who treat mental illness is that a person can make decisions regarding their recovery, and it is not completely determined by chemical imbalances in the brain, or by social conditions (although there is evidence that these factors contribute to the illness).

    The brain / mind distinctions that Dr. Egnor illuminates gives power to the self-determination models that psychologists are currently supporting, although I’m not certain that most practicing psychologists are aware of, nor support the ramifications of these distinctions.

    There is much more to discuss here, but I’ll leave it at that. I think the most important point here, and in relation to all the other responses that appear to be mainly steming from a degree or an experience with engineering, is that people who accept ID do so from their intellectual/experiential/observational backgrounds, and not necessarily from a-priori ideological assumptions or a lack of education.

  24. 24
    GilDodgen says:

    Tim:

    A sporadic poster . . . and I hope this doesn’t skew us too much toward stupid, but I am not degreed in any scientific or engineering area. However, I routinely do the N. Y. Times Sunday crossword puzzle — and in pen! Is that a field?

    I am not degreed in any scientific or engineering area. I just figure out stuff on my own, as the need arises, which is how I got my job in aerospace R&D (as a result of my artificial-intelligence research, with which I demonstrated that I could do original work in innovative software engineering). Anyone who can do the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in pen would certainly not qualify as a Eugenie Scott/Richard Dawkins mindless dolt, and I must confess to some jealously concerning your talents and intellect.

    Who are the people, in the ID versus blind-watchmaker debate, who have abandoned rational thinking, and who believe silly ideas based on blind faith and fantasy? I think the answer is obvious.

    The attempt by anti-ID propagandists to characterize us as rubes with nefarious theocratic intentions is a sure sign of desperation on their part. Is this not obvious as well?

  25. 25
    vjtorley says:

    I have a checkered academic background: a B.Sc. with a pure maths major; a B.A. with majors in philosophy and computer science; a B.Ec. with economics and accounting majors; an M.A. in philosophy; and a Ph.D. in philosophy. Also a Dip.Ed.

    I’ve never been a software engineer, so I cannot claim to know as much about how information is created and conserved as people who work in that field. However, I did work as a computer programmer and analyst/programmer in the insurance industry for ten years, before becoming a language teacher.

    Regarding ID: I read a lot of my late grandfather’s old books when I was growing up, which made me lean strongly towards evolution: H. G. Wells’ “Outline of History” (1926 edition), Will Durant’s “The Mansions of Philosophy” and E. Griffith-Jones’ “The Dominion of Man.” Books in the school library also pushed me in that direction, and I developed a passion for astronomy, geology and physical anthropology in my teens, which left me in little doubt that the earth was very old and that evolution was true. As I was raised Catholic, at a time when Teilhard de Chardin’s ideas were being popularized among the laity, evolution was not a big theological problem, except for the “Adam and Eve” question – and even there, I learned that there was latitude of opinion among theologians.

    I encountered Melvin Cook’s “Prehistory and Earth Models” at university, but a chat with the head of the Geology department convinced me that Cook’s arguments for YEC were based on poorly understood phenomena, and therefore of dubious value. When I encountered creationist writings in the 1980s, their claims struck me as easy to refute, on scientific grounds. Arthur Strahler’s “Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy” (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Press, 1987) boosted my confidence in the evolutionary account.

    I wasn’t persuaded by the very earliest ID books, and my reaction to “Darwin on Trial” was hostile: I thought it presented the case for evolution very unfairly. I was much more impressed with “Darwin’s Black Box” by Michael Behe. The book caused me to have real doubts about the Just-so stories I’d been fed in my earlier years – e.g. Pelger and Nilsson’s computer simulation of the evolution of the eye over a mere 500,000 years. (By the way, the Website http://www.detectingdesign.com/humaneye.html offers an excellent account of the evolution of the eye, from an ID perspective.) If nothing else, I realized that the cell was where the battle over evolution would be won or lost. However, the vociferous scientific response to Behe’s book, and the accusations that he’d gotten his facts wrong, made me leery of supporting ID.

    What has tipped the balance for me in the last year or two has been the gradual realization that the kind of programming that our DNA exhibits is much more sophisticated than anything our best programmers could come up with. That, combined with the discovery that our DNA also contains vast volumes of meta-information, has made me realize that blind processes could not have created such a magnificent structure. So I guess you could call me a front-loader.

  26. 26

    My own background is in meteorology, with a focus on understanding the chaos of weather forecasting. It has given me a strong sense of the limits of scientific knowledge, especially relating to the age of the earth. But I have experience in environmental modelling and use of numerical weather prediction techniques. The science of weather forecasting has improved because it takes seriously the levels of uncertainty in nature. A lesson there for Darwinian biologists I would suggest.

  27. 27
    Paul Giem says:

    For your statistics, I’m not a software engineer, but I do have a double major in college, theology and chemistry, and finished medical school in 3 1/4 years (top of my class) while getting a M.A. in religion (4.0 average, [univ.] President’s Award). I am board certified in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine. I have recertified twice in EM, (IM was permanent at the time), which makes me a bit older than 25, but then, I’m not just ID but YEC.

    Interestingly, I got my EM boards without having gone through a residency. I got in on the ground floor (“grandfathered” is the term). What do they do when the teachers didn’t take a residency? They require time in the emergency department in lieu of formal training, and give partial credit for other training, and require one to pass the test. They eventually shut down the “practice track” (it survived a lawsuit challenge). But what it means is that EM can theoretically be learned on the job.

    In fact, any field of knowledge can be learned on the job. If it does not require actual practice, but knowledge, any field can be learned by independent study. So the claim that only evolutionary biologists can understand evolutionary biology and therefore only they are qualified to comment on it, is poppycock.

    My own belief in ID started in my senior year in college, in 1972-3. Given my two majors, in chemistry seminar class I presented a paper on the origin of life. My believing chemistry professors cautioned that science could not prove theology, and they are still technically right. But when I looked at the chemistry involved, and the experiments that were actually done, it became apparent that the spontaneous origin of life was so highly improbable given the then current knowledge that its happening even once under ideal conditions was for practical purposes a miracle. The situation hasn’t changed much since that time.

    This left me with several reasonable conclusions:
    1. There is a God. Whether He/She/It/They was/were Christian, or even noticed me, could be debated, but whether He[…] existed was not debatable unless and until someone showed that OoL research had made significant strides.
    2. Scientific inference could sometimes support a theological conclusion. It was worth looking to see if there were other areas where the same was true.
    3. You can’t trust the popular presentations, or even the textbooks. If you really want to know, you have to go back to the original research to find out. Press releases on OoL were much more favorable to spontaneous generation than were the results of the original experiments.
    4. Special training may be helpful, but is not necessary to understand a field. All it takes is special study, with enough background information.

    I had one computer class, in FORTRAN. I did this on a machine which occupied most of a room and had 16K of memory. We learned all kinds of ways to shoehorn programs into it. I gave up writing DO loops, because it took too much memory for the compiler. Instead I used counters and IF … THEN statements. I also taught myself BASIC and wrote software for a lab that was still being used 20 years later. It was intended to be idiot-proof, and came pretty close.

    So although my training, or experience, in computer programming was not as extensive as some here, it is enough to have thoroughly disabused me of any notion that code can arise by accident. In fact, even with careful attention, code can go haywire. The idea that even one of my relatively simple programs can be written without foresight strikes me as absurd, let alone the programs that run life.

    In studying any subject, and especially controversial ones, I am an experimentalist. That is why I made the second half of my comment here
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-306225
    and why I have pushed for experiments to be done in, among other places, carbon-14 research.

  28. 28
    Borne says:

    CannuckianYankee:

    “ID allows me to be an intellectually fulfilled theist.”

    🙂
    Good one.
    Tell it to Dick Dawkins!

  29. 29
    pharmgirl says:

    A quote from Dr. Jonathan Wells’ book “Icons of Evolution”:
    “In a surprising number of instances, however, the average person is probably as competent to make a judgment as the most highly trained scientist. If a theory of gravity predicts that heavy objects will fall upwards, it doesn’t take an astrophysicist to see that the theory is wrong. And if a picture of an embryo doesn’t look like the real thing, it doesn’t take an embryologist to see that the picture is false. So an average person with access to the evidence should be able to understand and evaluate many scientific claims.”

    When something isn’t adding up it doesn’t necessarily take an expert to spot the discrepancy.

  30. 30
    skynetx says:

    @GilDodgen

    +1 for a pre-grad software developer right here! 😀

  31. 31
    Greg Hughes says:

    I have a Baccalaureate in Computer Engineering, studying for my Masters. I work in software, but I am not allowed to call myself a software engineer. I don’t fit the age demographic. Apologies, Gil, but I am an atheist.

  32. 32
    Greg Hughes says:

    CannuckianYankee, can you please help me understand something. You say that “ID allows you to be an intellectually fulfiled theist”. When Dawkins says that about Darwin, I think that he is referring to the fact that after Darwin life can be explained without invoking the supernatural. ID too proclaims this. If this so, how fulfiling can this be please, as it leaves so much to question? I ask this respectfully, as a fellow Cannuckian . . .

  33. 33
    Berceuse says:

    It’s interesting to get a glimpse of the backgrounds of everyone here, but there’s a little bit of horn tooting going on. Let’s tone it down 🙂

  34. 34
    Berceuse says:

    Greg Hughes wrote:
    Apologies, Gil, but I am an atheist

    Why?

  35. 35
    Greg Hughes says:

    Hello, Berceuse@34.
    I reckon I was being polite and apologising for not fitting with Gil’s hypothesis.

  36. 36
    Berceuse says:

    Sorry, I meant: Why are you an atheist?

  37. 37
    Greg Hughes says:

    Hello everyone.
    Harking back to to something uoflcard said “Evolving from a simple system to a complex one (or even worse, a complex system to a different complex system) via slight, successive, but progressively beneficial mutations would be an incredible challenge for a team of engineers”, has anyone here investigated agile methods? My company has and does, and I would say that it is closely aligned to evolutionary concepts, albeit with the intelligence of a) a developer providing the random mutations, and b) a customer (or proxy) providing the role of mother nature. Through the process of (relatively) small, incremental changes over short timeframes, we add, remove or change existing functionality, in an almost darwininian manner. Any of the ‘geers here want to comment?

  38. 38
    jerry says:

    “but I am an atheist.”

    Then you can choose to figure out where all this complexity came from or you can choose not to. If you choose to explain it then we can see how coherent your approach is. So far no one that has ever come here has been able to give a coherent account for the organized complexity in life that does not include design.

    If you are so inclined, try and be the first. But if you cannot then you have to hold that up to your beliefs as an atheist.

    There is the possibility that some form of intelligent life arose on another planet somewhere in the universe and is responsible for life here. If so, you are an ID advocate but one of the rare atheist ID advocates.

    But after that, then you have to figure out how all the fine tuning of the universe happened. Good luck, it is tough being an intellectually honest atheist. I never met one but look forward to some day.

  39. 39
    golfsullivan says:

    “Software engineers recognize a digital information-processing system when they encounter one, and know that such engines require design, and lots of it.”

    While not a software engineer, I have been in the software business for over 20 years. I did write the prototype for ACT! some 25 years ago.

    The software analogy is right on. It is one of the main reasons I find it obvious that Life was designed!

    A few times, when we were deeply involved in the design process for ACT! and later SalesLogix, where we argued about various trade offs in the design, I found myself saying, “so that is how God designed this whole thing.” He had to make decisions about His design that involved trade offs. (Thus providing monday morning quarterbacking)

    I could just hear Him saying, “hmmm, I think I’ll give em 2 kidneys but only 1 liver because the liver needs to take up a lot of room. And I’ll make it so the liver can regenerate itself. That way there will be backups for both the kidneys and the liver. But this free will thing? I’m going to have to give that some more thought!” 🙂

    Pat Sullivan
    http://www.patsullivan.com

  40. 40
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Greg Hughes,

    “CannuckianYankee, can you please help me understand something. You say that “ID allows you to be an intellectually fulfiled theist”. When Dawkins says that about Darwin, I think that he is referring to the fact that after Darwin life can be explained without invoking the supernatural. ID too proclaims this. If this so, how fulfiling can this be please, as it leaves so much to question? I ask this respectfully, as a fellow Cannuckian . . .”

    Well I must say, it is a wallop of a question, and I’m not sure if I can thank you for asking it. lol. It really is a dissertation level question, and I’m not even a grad student, But here goes:

    “God-of-the-gaps” is a common accusation among Darwinists in their distaste for any theologically-based answer to existential questions. I think you will see in my explanation that the “God-of-the-gaps” argument is a rather shallow understanding of what theists mean by the existence of beings allegedly outside of the natural realm.

    Now there are some terms that you used in your question that I would like to clarify my perspective on before I can adequately answer you:

    the first term is “supernatural.” In my respectful debates with atheists online over the years, there seems to be some contrary distinctions between atheists and theists as to what that term means. I wouldn’t presume to dictate for the atheist what that means, but I do think that it is important for an atheist to undstand exactly what a theist means when he/she talks of supernatural phenomenon.

    Quite often I come across very simplistic notions of what the supernatural means among atheists, and it always seems to be a point of contention on both sides; negated often by the atheist, and not sufficiently counter-explained by the theist.

    For example, Dawkins is fond of talking about fairies and goblins – (clearly mythical beings that can find some historical origination), as a point of comparison when describing what theists mean by the supernatural. It’s not that simple with a deity, and Dawkins is often way off base in his assessment of what theists believe, and as such, given his understanding of, or his insistence upon this narrow view of the supernatural, I can see why he would choose not to believe it.

    Many theists counter that argument simply by stating that it is a “strawman” without explaining exactly why it is so. I’m not going to go into eplaining it here due to space limitations, but I can point you in the right direction. See William Lane Craig over at “Reasons To Believe.”

    Let me just say that as a theist, belief in God (the one and only as opposed to many deities) satisfies the desire for and explanation of ultimate and eternal questions, such as why there must be an essential first cause for everything that exists,the “necessary being,” on the one hand and the problem with infinite regresses on the other. Darwinist materialism does not offer a satisfying explanation to these problems.

    The second term you used is “invoke” as in “invoke the supernatural.” I don’t believe that any thinking person really invokes the supernatural dryly without understanding a particular paradigm by which the supernatural is invoked. The monotheistic paradigm of the supernatural is something specific, and it does not include all popular notions of what is metaphysically possible. For example, monotheists of the Judeo-Christian tradition accept the existence of angels and demons, but for the most part, do not believe that such beings physically impact the world in any noticeable fashion (as is common in fictional accounts of the supernatural in popular media), without some experiential understanding of what to look for. So for all intents and purposes, the physical / natural world is the realm in which we experience existence, and angels, ghosts, demons, etc exist in a reality that is separate from the natural, not negating the possibility that they may also in some unseen or undetectable way, impact the natural / physical world.

    Supernatural beings apart from God are “contingent beings,” in that they have no existence apart from God. So if God does not exist, then ghosts, demons, angels, goblins, fairies, flying spaghetti monsters, or whatnot, cannot exist.

    Humans and all other animals are also contingent beings.

    And this is the point – evolution, if it is true in the Darwinian sense, is contingent. It is contingent because it cannot avoid the problem of the infinite regress.

    So when you say that people invoke the supernatural, it means something very specific. It does not mean that we invoke contingent beings such as ghosts and angels to explain our existence, as Dawkins seems to believe we theists do. It means that we invoke something that is necessary in order to satisfy a desire to negate the absurdities inherent in infinite regresses.

    ID simply detects the nature of physical contingent phenomenon as originating from something that is necessary, and not something that is physically infinite, which is what Darwinism ultimately states.

    Now the reason ID advocates do not invoke the supernatural is that they don’t need to. The existence of natural contingent beings and/or natural contingent evolution if you will, infers something that is beyond the finiteness of the natural. We don’t need to explain what that is. All we need to do is to understand the complexities that indicate something was planned as opposed to unplanned. The implications of design lead to the necessary being, whose existence is already philosophically sound.

    Now you state that you are an atheist. Not to insult you in any way, but in light of the absurdity of evolution occurring necessarily from an infinite point in time, why is it irrational then to invoke something that erases the problem of infinite regresses? I see the existence of God as an ultimate explanation, erasing all absurd metaphysical notions.

    Now before you go in the direction of insisting that evolution started somewhere in time, let me just remind you that you have still not dealt with the problem of a necessary first cause in order to cancel out the absurdity of an infinite regress. You can state, “well, there’s always transpermia,” or you could go the absurd route of infinite parallel universes, but those ideas also imply contingency. The necessary first cause, or necessary being must therefore, be supernatural, and must exist in order for anything that is contingent to exist. Any natural being or cause is necessarily contingent.

    So Dawkins may be satisfied with a Darwinian explanation, but I doubt if Dawkins has fully dealt with the inherent philosophical contradictions of his position.

    In that, I am happy to say that I am an intellectually fulfilled theist. ID supports the logical theistic paradigm from a scitific standpoint. It is not surprising then, that ID is not limited to biology. Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez can attest to that.

  41. 41
    Oramus says:

    Cannuckian Yankee, fantastic post @40.

    BTW, when I’m thrown a God-of-the-Gaps wrench, I like to send back a ‘chance-in-the gaps’ drill (gift-wrapped).

  42. 42
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Oramus,

    Drill away, baby.

  43. 43
    Oramus says:

    OK here me. I have no formal education, just a semester of college. I’m a Christian sailboat, and currently docked in Taiwan. I work in the technical textile industry.

    I believe in ID as a rational, logical conclusion to observed reality. Belief in the unseen is, contrary to skeptics claims, a rational perception. As well, I believe the senses are necessarily a practical tool for mobility (with the added benefit of an experience of pleasure), but not tools for understanding reality.

    Some things that have affected my life:

    1) I belief I had an out of body experience. I thought I was dreaming that I flew to Asia. but when my dream stopped, my body shuddered so hard, I almost fell out of the top bunk I slept in with three other brothers. Later reading about the idea of out of body experiences led me to believe I had actually left by body and the jolt happened when I entered back in.

    2) Recently, I had the wonderful experience of actually feeling my life energy or Chi.(different from my soul). During a massage theraphy session (the therapist was using a lymph technique), something started throbbing in me. It felt as though an earthquake was taking place but the therapist said no the room was perfectly still. After the initial throbbing, there was this feeling of circular motion going from my head down the right side to my feet and then over to the left side and back up to my chest. There must have been at least 5-7 rotations before it subsided.

    That reminds me of a comment a poster made regarding Vitalism, which is, I hear, riciduled in the West. Well, Chi is real even if western science can’t isolate it, or can’t figure out how to anaylze it.

    3) A couple of months ago, I went to a funeral for a client’s father. I was sitting in a row of portable chairs in the middle right of the room, and suddenly a feeling when through and past me. The feeling was not unlike the experience of my Chi (described above). But in this case the feeling was not circulating within me, but when through me. Make of it what you will, but to me I can now understand what people past and present feel when they talk about sensing a presence. This is abjective reasoning to me. Knowing something is real from my experiencing it directly, even if it cannot be wielding, cut, and put on a glass plate for examination under a microscope.

  44. 44
    Oramus says:

    Correction, after reading my post just now, i see how comical a sentence in the first part would seem. It should’ve read “I almost fell out of the top bunk (in the room) I slept in with three other brothers.

    N0, we weren’t the four stooges.

  45. 45
    CannuckianYankee says:

    A point of clarification:

    All naturaistic science is concerned with contingent reality and not necessary reality. Necessary reality is either esoteric and philosophical, or it is revelatory. While it is true that religious questions are inerently unscientific because they are concerned with the realm and actions of a necessary being, who if eternal and infinite, is not measurable by contingent science.

    However, ID does not fit in that category, since its main concern is understanding contingent reality. ID is warranted in suggesting that contingent reality is purposeful and planned, since contingent reality arises out of the information needed for a necessary being to complete it. Information does not come out of nowhere. This is a keen observation.

    Theology assumes the existence of that necessary being, and therefore is not scientific in the naturalistic sense. However, it is an area where truth can be ascertained, given that realty is experienced logically and physically and metaphysically.

    When theologians insist that God created the universe from divine fiat, they are stating something that cannot be measured, but is nonetheless necessary. It’s similar to Big Bang cosmology, in that it has a grand thesis for how it must have started, but does not, and cannot give the immeasurable specifics of how it occured.

    I doubt if cosmologists will ever be able to explain how the Big Bang occurred, simply because it implies something out of nothing, which is exactly what divine fiat suggests. It is no surprise then, that the Jewish scriptures begin with that ultimate immeasurable explanation that comes right out of eternity: “In the beginning God….”

    The scriptures do not even give an elaborate theological argument for the existence of God. For the writers of scripture, God is given; self-evident. They were not ignorant of the necessariness of the first cause, and in that, I would have to say they were philosophically and logically superior to modern humans.

    We modern humans have to be taught about such things, while ancient humans were aware of and intimate with the eternal.

  46. 46
    CannuckianYankee says:

    For the software engineers in here:

    What is it about complex information (in light of the complex programs that make my computer function, for example), that makes undirected evolution an absurd improbability?

    2nd question:

    If evolution is not undirected, as some Darwinists claim, is there an example from software engineering that might make that seem plausibe, (still given the notion of complex information)?

    Another:

    In light of what I posted above on contingency, what aren’t the Darwinists getting – what can I talk about that might lead them in the right direction?

    And Lastly:

    There’s a lot of talk about artificial inteligence. Doesn’t the idea of ie stem from the function of biological organs like the brain and the eye? Does that not imply something similar to design, or is biology completely disconnected from engineering?

  47. 47
    sxussd13 says:

    http://vimeo.com/2285902

    Check out this nice music vid on engineering and complexity of our little lives in the western hemisphere.

    BTW why not start a social network for ID? ning.com Community etc? Would make interaction a bit easier and more interesting meeting all you smart people out there!

  48. 48
    Barb says:

    I work as a medical transcriptionist for a clinical laboratory specializing in dermatopathology and immunodermatology. I’m a student at Regis University (Denver, but I’m an online student) working on a bachelor’s in health information management.

  49. 49
    bFast says:

    CannuckianYankee, I am disappointed that noone has responded to your questions so far. That said, I have put some amount of though into my response. I hope you still catch it on this thread that’s getting a bit tired.

    What is it about complex information (in light of the complex programs that make my computer function, for example), that makes undirected evolution an absurd improbability?

    As a software developer I periodically tweak a single keystroke of information. I may, for instance, fix a spelling error. I may also twiddle a value. Maybe I had a limit of ten characters for a field, and I need to change it to 20 characters. However, to get anything meaningful done, I must twiddle with a whole bunch of characters. As I do, the code that I am working on doesn’t run better each time I strike a key. For the most part, the program can’t run at all until I have completed what is often times a complex thought.

    The genome is huge! A human has about 3 gigabytes of data. As far as actual program code goes, I doubt if I have written three gig of actual code in my 25 year experience. The idea that every time any keystroke of change is made, the result must be at least as good as the predecessor code, and most usually better is absolutely rediculous.

    >> For Allen_MacNeill, I would consider hilighting a section of code, then hitting the delete button to be one keystroke. Highlighting, throwing into the clipboard, then copying it somewhere else — one keystroke. Copying from one program into another — one keystroke. Even with 47 power strokes available to me, the idea that each stroke must produce a program that is fully functional and in some way superior is unfathomable.

    If evolution is not undirected, as some Darwinists claim, is there an example from software engineering that might make that seem plausibe, (still given the notion of complex information)?

    I think I understand your question. If I do, let me rephraise it. Is universal common ancestry and software development compatible. Is there modern technology that is analogous to starting with a baby program, and, without abandoning what was, without stopping what was, adding bits to it to create a might, colossal program.

    If this is your question, the answer is yes. There is a technology that is growing in use referred to as “patching” technology. Back in the way back, we used to actually send end users addresses and hex codes to change in their programs and get them to manually patch the programs. This idea faded away almost entirely before new technology sprung up. In the new technology, I as a programmer make modifications to the master program that you have a copy of, then I run it through a “patch” program that creates a custom edit file. I send this very small file to you, the end user. The patch program follows the directions, and fixes your copy of the program.

    If you use a Windows based computer (probably any other as well) you use this technology all the time, though you don’t know it. Windows has an “automatic update” feature. This feature goes off to Microsoft headquarters, gets the necessary changes, and patches the programs on your computer. Sometimes it swaps out an entire file. Sometime it edits a file to make it right.

    With patch technology it would be quite reasonable for me to give you a very simple program, say a program that organizes names and addresses. Then, by just sending you patches that update that program, the program could, over the years, become a complex, multi-tasking, keep history logs for each of your clients, and bill by the minute for phonecalls, wonderprogram.

    In light of what I posted above on contingency, what aren’t the Darwinists getting – what can I talk about that might lead them in the right direction?

    I’m sorry, this is much to philosophical of a question for me to answer with my software developer’s hat on.

    There’s a lot of talk about artificial inteligence. Doesn’t the idea of ie stem from the function of biological organs like the brain and the eye? Does that not imply something similar to design, or is biology completely disconnected from engineering?

    AI has taken a lot from biology. The concept of the neural network is directly analogous to the human (or animal) brain. Genetic programming, another branch of AI, directly takes from the idea of simulating a gene-like structure, and playing “twiddle and test”games with it.

    When engineers figured out flight, they began by studying birds. Many other engineering wonders have been gleaned from biology. To an engineer, biology appears designed — most probably because it is.

    About AI, however. The field has promised vastly more than it has ever delivered. Simulating intelligence, and simulating the evolutionary process has produced a few interesting papers, it has found some usefulness in obscure applications, but it has hardly revolutionized technology.

    Hopefully that is useful to you.

  50. 50
    GilDodgen says:

    What is it about complex information (in light of the complex programs that make my computer function, for example), that makes undirected evolution an absurd improbability?

    Here’s an example of why this is an absurd improbability:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....selection/

  51. 51
    equinoxe says:

    I have a Ph.D. in computer science. I’m not sure whether I’d call myself “ID” or not. (Not in a job interview!) Unguided evolution is a random walk in the park as far as I’m concerned.

    The sole contender against ID is not Darwinism, as is often supposed, but some kind of “Everythingism”, i.e., multiverses, fractal universes and so on. Darwinism slipped down the league tables long ago in terms of its power to explain.

  52. 52
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Thanks for your input Gil and Bfast, now I’m going to chew on the responses for awhile. Wish there was another newer thread where we could discuss this more.

    Equinoxe, I think you are right on about “Everythingism.” Science has to broaden its all-out assault on religious notions of an eternal necessary being. It’s based in a philosophical distaste for anything to do with a Creator God. So what do they do? They manufacture an idea that supposedly erases the absurdity of an infinite regress, which is what theistic philosphcers have been telling them for centuries. But these ideas are not supported by any actual science whatsoever, and are therefore pseudo-scientific.

    ID implies the only rational alternative: an eternal Creator/Designer, who avoids the absurdities of eternal regress because He just is; not created, and therefore not contingent. It’s the most parsimonious option that anyone can think of, but it is still avoided on faulty philosophical grounds.

    And ID is able to imply design without the need for identifying the designer, and therefore remains completely scientific.

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