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Intelligent design “horrifying”

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File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Starting our day’s coverage off right, we note a letter to the editor of the Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), warning a disbelieving world:

In his Feb. 12 letter to the Argus Leader asserting “intelligent design is evidence-based and is science,” Bill Harris tells us he is a “Ph.D., professor of medicine, Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota and president of OmegaQuant Analytics.” Apparently, we mere mortals are supposed to be impressed.

Goodness. Some of us would think the doc did right to tell us other mere mortals where he is coming from. As in, Hi, I’m Denyse O’Leary, a news hack from Ottawa… So we’d expect him to know something about medicine the way you’d expect me to know something about Canada.

With or without evidence, I find the implications of his assertion horrifying. If there is an intelligent creator, the nature of the universe — violent and random — suggests such a being is either malevolent, a buffoon, or both, and the moral implications are staggering.

The earth has experienced five mass extinctions. What kind of designer makes a system that periodically wipes out species for no apparent reason? Are these extinctions simply an “oops” moment on the part of the creator? More.

Yeh.

Worse still, my laptop’s operating system is so old that it no longer supports Chrome. And the old cars in the Canada Day Antiques highway parade aren’t made anymore…

It would be interesting to see a serious argument that an intelligent creator could never allow something based in time and space to obsolesce and disappear.

But meanwhile, we must make do with frantic letters to the editor.

See also: BioLogos distances itself from views of founder?

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9 Replies to “Intelligent design “horrifying”

  1. 1
    OldArmy94 says:

    It amazes me that this guy would write such a letter. Insulting the Creator, especially one he imagines as morally-bankrupt, is surely not a good way to ingratiate himself.

  2. 2
    John S says:

    As usual, the creator-hater reveals his hand, shows his goal to be judgment of the motives and performance of the non-existent designer. All while deflecting the discussion at hand regarding observable evidence for design, and neglecting to consider any possible answers to his questions other than the one he came up with.

    Once again the Bible provides the cleared stated answer to his question, and the only one that makes sense of reality. Here’s betting he could not articulate it, let alone understand it.

  3. 3
    DonaldM says:

    Its another example of a classic anti-ID argument. The basic argument goes something like this.

    Premise 1: We observe phenomenon X in nature, where “X” is some sub-optimal (supposedly) design.
    Premise 2: No wise (or loving) creator would have done it that way
    Conclusion: thus the system is the result of undirected, natural causes and not intelligent design.

    This was the late Stephen J. Gould’s main argument in his book “The Panda’s Thumb”. The book is one long argument that because we see sub-optimal designs throughout nature, only evolution can explain it. Thus he drives home the point that “…odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread, but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce”.

    This guy’s letter in response to the more thoughtful one by Dr. Bill Harris is the same kind of argument. The question that needs to be asked in the face of this type of argument is: how do you know “scientifically” what a creator would or wouldn’t do?

    There’s an even deeper problem, though, with the letter. First consider Dr. Harris’s original letter to the editor, which is short, so I’ll reproduce it in full here:

    “Of the many concerns I have about the Feb. 1 article written by Argus Leader reporter Patrick Anderson, “Intelligent design in science class?” – space permits comment on only two: the term “rogue teachers” and the mischaracterization of the theory of intelligent design. Teachers who dare to explore theories that would challenge “consensus” views on any topic are referred to as rogues – defined as either “a deceitful, unprincipled or unreliable person” and “an organism that shows an unfavorable deviation from a standard.” The epithet is ungracious, and the reasoning is unscientific. “We” define X as true – teacher shows students contradictory evidence to X – teacher is branded a rogue and silenced. Old “truths” die hard.

    In the medical world, hand washing between cases was considered a waste of time, even after Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis presented clear evidence that it eliminated “childbed” fever. It was not accepted as “true” until years after his death. As a credentialed scientist myself, I predict that the mountain of evidence accumulating against Darwin’s grand theory of evolution by natural selection acting on random variations will collapse, and the obvious evidence for design in nature will be recognized. Contra the assertion by the Mitchell area high school science teacher, Julie Olson, intelligent design is evidence-based and is science.”

    Notice what’s missing in Harris’s comments? Harris doesn’t say anything about a creator, intelligent or otherwise. He only states that ID is evidenced based science. Yet Bucklin (the writer of the letter referred to in the OP) jumps right at that, and judging from the way he writes, I think its a fair bet he has God in mind as the creator.

    In short, there’s nothing new here. We’ve seen this same type of argument used over and over and over again ad nauseum.

  4. 4
    vjtorley says:

    Hi News. In his work, The Edge of Evolution (New York: Free Press, 2007), Intelligent Design advocate Professor Michael Behe discussed this flawed argument against Intelligent Design (which was invoked repeatedly by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species). The following quote is taken from a section in chapter 10 of Behe’s book, titled, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” (pp. 237-239):

    Here’s something to ponder long and hard: Malaria was intentionally designed. The molecular machinery with which the parasite invades red blood cells is an exquisitely purposeful arrangement of parts…

    Did a hateful, malign being make intelligent life in order to torture it? One who relishes cries of pain?

    Maybe. Maybe not. A torrent of pain indisputably swirls through the world – not only the world of humans but also the world of sentient animal life as well. Yet just as undeniably, much that is good graces nature. Many children die, yet many other thrive. Some people languish, but others savor full lives. Does one outweigh the other? If so, which outweighs which? Or are pleasure and pain, good and evil, incommensurable? Are viruses and parasites part of some brilliant, as-yet-unappreciated economy of nature, or do they reflect the bungling of an incompetent, fallible designer?

    Whether on balance one thinks life was a worthwhile project or not – whether the designer of life was a dope, a demon, or a deity – that’s a topic on which opinions over the millennia have differed considerably. Each argument has some merit. Of the many possible opinions, only one is really indefensible, the one held by Darwin…. He decided – based on squeamishness – that no designer existed. Maybe the designer isn’t all that beneficent or omnipotent. Science can’t answer questions like that. But denying design merely because it can cause terrible pain is a failure.
    (2007, pp. 237-239. Emphases mine – VJT.)

  5. 5
    vjtorley says:

    Hi News. The author of the anti-ID letter to the Argus Leader also argues: “Design implies intent, so in a designed universe, fear, pain and suffering are intentional, not accidental, component parts.”

    But that doesn’t follow. The evidence for design comes from biological structures exhibiting a high degree of functional complex specified information, and not from the “fear, pain and suffering” of animals (which may be either unintended by the Designer, or intentionally added by some other agent). Ditto for the five mass extinctions in the fossil record: they may have been foreseen, but not necessarily intended.

    With regard to the pain allegedly felt by animals being eaten alive, the following quote by the explorer David Livingstone, describing his close encounter with a lion, is pertinent (italics mine – VJT):

    In going round the end of the hill I saw a lion sitting on a piece of rock about thirty yards off with a little bush in front of him. I took a good aim at him through the bush and fired both barrels into it. The men called out. “He is shot, he is shot.” Others cried, “He has been shot by another man too, let us go to him.” I saw the lion’s tail erected in anger and turning to the people said, “Stop a little till I load again.” When in the act of ramming down the bullets I heard a shout and looking half round I saw the lion in the act of springing upon me. He caught me by the shoulder and we both came to the ground together. Growling horribly he shook me as a terrier dog does a rat. The shock produced a stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse after the first gripe of the cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess in which there was no sense of pain nor feeling of terror though I was quite conscious of all that was happening. It was like what patients partially under the influence of chloroform describe: they see the operation but do not feel the knife. This placidity is probably produced in all animals killed by the carnivora and if so is a merciful provision of Creator for lessening the pain of death. As he had one paw on the back of my head I turned round to relieve myself of the weight and saw his eyes directed to Mebalwe who was aiming at him from a distance of ten or fifteen yards. His gun which was a flint one missed fire in both barrels. The animal immediately left me to attack him and bit his thigh. Another man whose life I had saved after he had been tossed by a buffalo attempted to spear the lion upon which he turned from Mebalwe and seized this fresh foe by the shoulder. At that moment the bullets the beast had received took effect and he fell down dead.

    [David Livingstone (1857). Missionary Travels (pp. 11-12). London: EW Cole.]

  6. 6
    mw says:

    ‘In his book The Greatest Show on Earth Dawkins asserts that the retina, the light sensitive layer in the back of the eye, is “back to front”. He then goes on to explain: “… suppose I tell you that the eye’s photocells are pointing backwards, away from the scene being looked at. The “wires” connecting the photocells to the brain run all over the surface of the retina, so the light has to pass through a carpet of massed wires before they hit the photocells.” He goes on to conclude. “Once again, send it back, is not just bad design, it’s the design of a complete idiot.”’
    Richard Dawkins, (2009) The Greatest Show on Earth, Bantam Press, pp353-354. See the following link for a reply: http://askjohnmackay.com/dawki.....d-dawkins/

    What minute: the eye is the process a of “a complete idiot,” – Darwinian natural selection! Horrors of horrors.

    Preservation, is Darwin’s word he gave to his meaning of natural selection; that is after his first attempt at designing by intent to make natural selection god-like failed. Indeed, Darwin put much effort in his many designed editions of Origin in order to get a designless, none intelligent theory. At one point, he did design a God to his liking to accommodate dissent, but it was not the Judaeo-Christian God;and he believed Christianity was not divinely revealed.

    Darwinism in general is full of theoretically ‘evolved’ intelligent brains world wide hell bent on maintaining a designless, none intelligent theory by redesigning it every day to suit every objection for evidence of designs through life forms, life units and life components.

  7. 7
    News says:

    vjtorley at 4 and 5:

    4. As you are a philosopher maybe you can help me out with something here. I do not understand why, in a world governed by time and space, finitude and mortality, species might not go extinct even if they show evidence of design.

    Anything in this type of universe must be bounded by time. If no species ever went extinct, what would the world be like now?

    5: I offer no defense in principle of the sufferings of animals but would note this: Most of the mice I have picked up dead in the basement, where cats roam at night, had unmarked bodies, suggesting they died of cardiac arrest.

    I know that birds captured by cats often die that way. The bird’s heart beats so wildly that one senses this cannot go on for long. One can sometimes save such a rescued bird by putting it in a box, at which point it falls asleep. One can open the box later and find it is either alive (and will fly away) or dead.

    In any event, I doubt that wild creatures who feed themselves by their catches can usually pause a long time to torment their prey. Last summer I saw a seagull swallow a whole chipmunk. It acted quickly because it looked aside and saw another gull eyeing the same prize. The chipmunk happened to be dead, probably dropped by a passing raven. But even if it were not dead, it would soon be in the gull’s crop.

    Crop of seagull:

    http://10000birds.com/what-is-a-birds-crop.htm.

  8. 8
    News says:

    Also, it is unclear that extinction is a form of suffering. If not, under what circumstances and in what sense is it an evil?

  9. 9
    Robert Byers says:

    A doctor finds ID horrific? I guess he is trying to stress the dearth and decay.
    Yet the bible explains this and why Christ was to experience death and decay and he was the creator!!
    Attacking a creator outside the christian story is already a great statement on the boundaries of these matters.

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