Intelligent Design

What do Materialism and Santa Claus Have in Common?

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In my prior post UD News commented regarding someone who has denied that the difference between a random string of text and a string of text that consists of English sentences is that the latter conforms to a specification, i.e., the conventions of the English language. She said:

It is hard to believe anyone doesn’t know this.

My initial impulse was to write that I would modify her observation to: “It is impossible to believe anyone doesn’t know this; it is hard to believe anyone would not admit they know what they must know.”

Upon reflection, however, I decided it is not really hard to believe after all. I remember very vividly when my friends told me Santa Claus was not real. I distinctly remember resisting them with all my might. I said, “If that is right, then my parents have been lying to me,” and my young mind could not fathom a universe in which my parents would lie to me. Turns out they were lying about Santa Claus, and I had to make some painful worldview adjustments. And because of that experience, when my children were young, while we still did the whole Santa Clause thing, I always made sure they understood Santa was just a fun story, not a real person. I did not want them to go through what I went through.

Materialist metaphysics is for some grownups what belief in Santa Claus was for me when I was a child. I believed in Santa very strongly and was extremely reluctant to turn loose of that belief, even when I was confronted with some pretty powerful evidence that the belief was false. I suppose it is a natural human tendency to resist evidence when it contradicts our strongly held beliefs. This tendency is not confined to materialists or atheists of course. But it is a fact that on these pages we see it displayed prominently and often by materialists.

Once again, here are the two strings of text:

Group 1:
OipaFJPSDIOVJN;XDLVMK:DOIFHw;ZD
VZX;Vxsd;ijdgiojadoidfaf;asdfj;asdj[ije888
Sdf;dj;Zsjvo;ai;divn;vkn;dfasdo;gfijSd;fiojsa
dfviojasdgviojao’gijSd’gvijsdsd;ja;dfksdasd
XKLZVsda2398R3495687OipaFJPSDIOVJN
;XDLVMK:DOIFHw;ZDVZX;Vxsd;ijdgiojadoi
Sdf;dj;Zsjvo;ai;divn;vkn;dfasdo;gfijSd;fiojsadfvi
ojasdgviojao’gijSd’gvijssdv.kasd994834234908u
XKLZVsda2398R34956873ACKLVJD;asdkjad
Sd;fjwepuJWEPFIhfasd;asdjf;asdfj;adfjasd;ifj
;asdjaiojaijeriJADOAJSD;FLVJASD;FJASDF;
DOAD;ADFJAdkdkas;489468503-202395ui34
Group 2:
To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

For what possible reason would a materialist deny knowing what he plainly must know – that we can know the second string is not a group of random letters because it is highly complex and also conforms to a specification?

The only answer I can think of is that the materialist denies this because admitting it is a point for ID, and he cannot bear to give any points to ID because to do so would call into question his belief in his Santa Claus substitute.

27 Replies to “What do Materialism and Santa Claus Have in Common?

  1. 1
    ppolish says:

    When my kid found out that Santa was really me, I think she was ok with it. She actually thanked me:) News, if your parents are still alive you should thank them too;)

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    ppolish, I was devastated at the time, but I grew up. I have enormous love and respect for my parents (who are still alive) and cherish them dearly. I think they were mistaken, but I came to know any mistake they made was wholly without malice and indeed committed in love. I would say I forgive them for the mistake, but really there is nothing to forgive.

  3. 3
    ppolish says:

    Barry, my Mom used to put shreds of cotton in the heat vents in our house every now and then – and tell us kids it was pieces of Santa’s beard. Yes, Santa was watching us. I never went that far with my kid;)

    I do remember vividly the last Christmas Eve that I was Santa. I knew my kid would recognize my handwriting, so I was cutting out letters from a magazine to spell out her name on presents. Tricky Santa.

    So I cut out a big “M” out of a Sunset magazine and when I went to glue it on, I saw
    the word “Santa” was on the reverse.

    Now I know it was a coincidence, Sunset mag is full of Santa. Seems half the cities out here are named after Saints, men (San Jose) and women (Santa Barbara). But the coincidence still made me gasp. A Christmas Miracle;)

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Barry:

    My dad refused to pull the Santa yarn.

    I remember, about 4, noticing the bearded red suit character in a store window . . . or was it a window display of a local cigarette factory (the powder blue wall in the backdrop of my visual recollection points that way, otherwise it may have been a local Dept store).

    Who’s that?

    I was told of the myth as a myth.

    (Christmas was always, celebration of Jesus’ birth in our home.)

    But then St Nick has some real history, it seems.

    If people cannot bring themselves to admit the blatantly undeniable evident to any eight year old, then some sober re-thinking is in order.

    Also, if ever there was a genuine nothing, that is what always would follow. As, non-being has no causal powers . . . oops, here comes the biggest poof-magic of all!

    Where, nope, for the same reason one cannot count up to the transfinite in succession, you cannot count down from it to a zero-point then up from say the big bang to now.

    That is an infinite regress of contingent beings in causal succession is seriously problematic.

    We are looking at a necessary being as best candidate to explain our world. Steady State failed, multiverse is phil in a lab coat. And does not give a good answer on fine tuning.

    A fine tuned observed cosmos — the only observed one — points to designing mind of great power. Beginning of observed cosmos per observations and reasonable inferences points to begin-ner.

    A necessary, intelligent designing being of power adequate to make a cosmos sounds rather familiar. And very unwelcome in certain circles.

    Poof magic, multiverse magic, or designer.

    The set of alternatives begins to look rather scanty beyond that point.

    Something beyond the ordinary in any case.

    And, in any case, we are overlapping into worldviews foundations territory, where materialists tend to be very uncomfortable as the lab coat confers no special privileges.

    And phil analysis per comparative difficulties can be pretty ruthless with ideological a prioris, even those that are dressed up in the lab coat.

    KF

  5. 5
    nightlight says:

    “while we still did the whole Santa Clause thing, I always made sure they understood Santa was just a fun story”

    It seems, you have still got one phase of growing up ahead of you on that topic to realize that Santa is actually a real, live conscious being, just made of cells that are human beings. It’s one of few instances of successful application of the ancient immortality recipe carried out in this case by Saint Nicholas.

    The idea is to relinquish ‘self’ during life (die for all practical purposes before biological death) and encode its essential pattern into a wider social network where it can come to life of its own and persist (if done properly) well beyond the biological existence of the seed pattern, in this case the long dead human Saint Nicholas.

    The original biological organism has a role analogous to that of DNA in a fertilized egg, that unfolds into a much larger live, conscious being, using the human social network as its (computing) substratum.

    There were few others who have carried it out successfully, and you probably, like most people, worship one of them. The Saint Nicholas case provides a very nice example as to how it is done.

  6. 6
    ppolish says:

    Nightlight, so maybe it WAS a Christmas miracle for me? I like that.

    I consider Easter to be the most important Holy Day / holiday. The Church making Winter Solstice celebrations “Christmas” was a bad move in my book. We should celebrate Birth of Jesus in August or so – make it a Holy Day. Let Santa keep December 25th.

  7. 7
    humbled says:

    When I was old enough to ask, my parents explained how there used to exist a man resembling Santa Claus or father Christmas as we call him, and that he did in fact give presents away. His actions were admired by many and we continue his tradition to this day.

    I thought this was a nice sentiment, one I’ve used on my kids since.

  8. 8
    ppolish says:

    Good point Humbled, Saint Nicholas was a very fine fellow. My kid is older now and a “”Reason for the Season” defender, but I think I will give her an early present on.St. Nick’s Feastday (12/6) for good measure.

    Enough Santa talk from me, hope I did not distract from the point in the OP.

  9. 9
    bb says:

    Santa was a fun side show when my kids were young. We always read from Hebrews 1 on Christmas Eve to put the focus on Christ, but there were a couple minor presents from Santa on Christmas morning. When my kids asked me if Santa was real I said yes and told them the history of Saint Nick the bishop of Myra. That he’s enjoying his afterlife with Christ and that’s as real as it gets.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    But Barry, there are characters in your first group that do not appear in your second group, therefore the first group must be more complex.

  11. 11
    bb says:

    To be clear, I made the point that he was no longer on this earth, never lived at the north pole and doesn’t deliver presents.

  12. 12
    william spearshake says:

    But what if Santa is the intelligent designer? You may argue that I am simply being a pain in the ass (Barry’s word, not mine). But, if ID is real, what evidence do you have that Santa isn’t responsible?

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    BS: But what if Santa is the intelligent designer?

    But what if Santa is the intelligent designer of what?

  14. 14
    bb says:

    My story about the reality of St. Nicholas doesn’t detract from the point. As Nicholas was a very real historical individual, evolution does happen. But the reality is very different from the mythical exaggerations. Nicholas doesn’t have flying reindeer and evolution doesn’t do much outside of minor variation and damage to the genome.

  15. 15
    Paul Giem says:

    Say, Spearshake,

    Barry Arrington asked you a question in comment 4 here:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....in-common/
    We can see that you are still posting. Are you going to
    (1) show why string B is more complex than string A
    (2) agree that string A is more complex than string B
    (3) disappear without a trace, or
    (4) try to change the subject?
    Are you a real live person or a debate machine without any regard for truth ([irony] whatever that is [/irony])?

  16. 16
    Querius says:

    Paul,

    After being humiliated by incorrectly answering a simple math question involving probability, I don’t think a_b/ws is keen to commit to anything definitive. In the event, even wd400 was stunned and delicately suggested that he recheck his math.

    In case you missed it, this was a truly comic moment—sorta like one of those YouTube videos where some idiot tries to perform a stunt and ends up painfully emasculating himself! lol

    -Q

  17. 17
    Paul Giem says:

    Actually, Querius, I did miss it, as I don’t read this blog exhaustively. Do you have a reference?

    Assuming you are correct, it sounds like ws/a_b has had a habit in the past of reflexly disagreeing with ideas posted here without thinking it through. I guess one can always hope for a change.

  18. 18
    Querius says:

    Paul,

    Here you go:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com...../#comments

    Check out the following posts:

    43 Acartia_bogart makes typical unsubstantiated attack on Michael Behe’s math.

    47 Querius challenges a_b to support his statement.

    57 Querius repeats challenge.

    58 A_b makes an incorrect claim.

    61 Querius pops the question, a simple problem that can be solved using the binomial theorem.

    64 Anthropic gives it away.

    67 Querius repeats the challenge.

    68 A_b Tries to answer the question but crashes in flames. Notice the word “respectively” in the two-part answer.

    72 wd400 gently tries to rescue A_b, but it’s too late.

    74 Querius administers the coup de grâce.

    75 A_b claims it was a typo along with fallacious reasoning.

    This is turning into a feeding frenzy!

    78 Querius tries to explain to A_b what happened.

    85 A_b changes the example.

    87, 97 wd400 desperately tries to rescue A_b by obfuscation.

    98 A_b tries to hide behind the definition of “simultaneous.”

    105 Querius turns A_b into the mathematical equivalent of a piñata. A_b ignores the beating.

    etc.

    The entire exchange is reminiscent of
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRUe-gz690
    Starting at 2:29.

    -Q

  19. 19
  20. 20
    tjguy says:

    spearshake says:

    But what if Santa is the intelligent designer? You may argue that I am simply being a pain in the ass (Barry’s word, not mine). But, if ID is real, what evidence do you have that Santa isn’t responsible?

    Spearshake, you are only showing your ignorance here.

    You are not serious, are you?

    If so, it shows the “rationality” of the Materialist brain.

    If not, it doesn’t even deserve an answer!

    Neither option is looking too good for you, Bill!

  21. 21
    william spearshake says:

    tjguy, I know that I was being intentionally flippant but, based on current ID theory, Santa is as good an explanation as any. Not because I am seriously proposing Santa as the designer, but because ID does not propose anything about the nature of the designer.

  22. 22
    ppolish says:

    If Santa is the Intelligent Designer, how to you explain the Island of Misfit Toys?

  23. 23
    Tim says:

    First of all, let me say that I can’t believe I have allowed myself to take the bait, and my apologies to those of you who so often deal with ABWS . . .

    He writes . . .

    But, if ID is real. . .Santa is as good an explanation as any. . . because ID does not propose anything about the nature of the designer.

    Yes the ellipses cut out a lot (will this prove to be wiggle room later for ABWS? whatever)

    I might add that flippancy is no excuse. Nor is the offset “, based on current ID theory,” see @21. The thrust of the posts seem to be (see, two can play that game), to ridicule ID because Santa (a fun myth as attested to by many posts) could be an explanation based on ID theory, because ID does not rule him out.

    Remember, he also wrote this in @12 (not @21)

    But, if ID is real, what evidence do you have that Santa isn’t responsible?

    Ok, I’ll bite. One of the implications of ID is that living things were designed. Whether you are referring to the man or the myth told by men, Santa is disqualified because he is not prior to numerous living things.

    Yes, yes, yes, we KNOW that what I have just stated is not solely from WITHIN ID, it is a logical extension of it along with a simple philosophical truth. big deal.

    That ID leaves some lifting to other disciplines can hardly be a criticism. Simply put, what and where and how far ID goes in propositions concerning the designer’s nature is a philosophical question which can be considered in many interesting ways.

    ABWS’s false tu quoque is just not one of them.

  24. 24
    ppolish says:

    WS, not sure what you mean by “nature of the designer”, but as a Christian IDer I know God is the Designer. Combination of Faith and mountains of Scientific Evidence. Big Mountains.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ata_player

  25. 25
    william spearshake says:

    Paul Glem: “Barry Arrington asked you a question in comment 4 here:”

    Barry admitted that I was right and he was wrong so I didn’t think there was a need to respond.

  26. 26
    Joe says:

    Santa Claus giveth and materialism taketh away… 😉

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Reading the comments on Shallit’s blog demonstrates how clueless and desperate the anti-ID mob is. Even Piotr Gasbag is there conjuring up his strawman.

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