Skip to comments.Hello, I'm starting "slow": Intelligent Design and its implications
Posted on 08/25/2005 10:11:22 PM PDT by Rurudyne
Hi! I'm new here and this is my first post here so I'm starting "slow".
My topic is "intellegent design" as it relates to evolution. A topic which has appeared in the news recently in the wake of the President's commented that it should be taught in public schools.
I have posted on this topic in the Hannity boards and have found some of misunderstanding there (at least on the part of a number of forumites) as to what intelligent design is and what its scientific merits are.
The short, short version is that intelligent design is not scientific (in any sense of rigor) because it is philosophical in nature: it is either the belief or the acquiescence to the possibility that a creator may be responsible for all that we see. Also, intelligent design accepts the theory of evolution and the long view of pre-history as valid.
But if intelligent design accepts evolution then why is there such a fuss about it?
It is because intelligent design is not the foil of evolution but, rather, the foil of naturalism.
Naturalism is the belief that everything in the universe exist, and would have existed, either apart from any supernatural cause or without the continued intervention of any supernatural cause. It is the philosophical construct that relates applied science to athiesm or diesm respectively (which are forms of and approaches to "theological" truth). The first principals of naturalism are not scientifically testable because they relate to a belief about God as a nonentity or as an uninvolved observer.
Naturalism, like intelligent design, is not scientific. This is where I've come to loggerheads with other forumites in Hannity ... one actually going so far as to suggest that athiesm is scientific.
But, and here's the rub, naturalist have based their hopes on the science proving their world view correct. They cannot allow evolution to be neutral to their cause and accepting even the possibility of intelligent design accomplishes just that.
Ummm ... that was the preamble, folks.
Now for the meat.
And please forgive me for any improprieties or inaccuracies of fact, since I'm a mere "standup philosopher" after all.
I suppose before I can go about comparing naturalism and intelligent design, and asserting that both are unscientific, I should establish a basis for my contention (as I understand it) that these are, in fact philosophies if rigorous, but mere world views otherwise.
I'll start by opining how science and inquiry as we know it grew out of classical and Christian/Jewish philosophy, how in it's inception it was a valueridden approach to the world.
The basic idea is that truth about the physical world can be reasoned out and the scientific method is the tool in the hands of men to perform this task.
For this to be a true statement human reason must be valid. This is part of why C.S.Lewis said that you cannot use reason to debunk reason. If human reason is deemed invalid then the basis for deeming it invalid is itself invalid, meaning (for one) we can't know anything in a scientific sense. Such a transformation of understanding humans would give rise to a supercilious form of skepticism and invites rational madmen and civil-like savages into humanity's midst.
Back up a bit, philosophy and theology are actually deemed sciences (just not applied sciences) because these deal with the subject of human reason itself, its validity and its relation to the universe and any potential source for that universe. Theology in particular is focused on the question of, to borrow Pilate's words, "What is truth?"
Naturalism takes on a number of specific views of ultimate truth which may vary depending upon the base theology behind the naturalist's philosophy. In short, people are naturalist because they sanely believe the things that they believethey have a reason to think as they do.
But not all naturalist, indeed not most of all people, are aware of their beliefs in the rigorous sense. This is because not many humans are what the Greeks called "philosophos" ... a term that needs some explaining ("just enough" should do).
"Sophos" is the word used to describe the full knowledge of what it means to be a man. "Sophist" were a class of moral teachers who believed that a man could indeed know the full measure of what it means to be a man (full and accurate self knowledge). These were opposed by a second group of teachers who, noting the spotty and often disasterous results of the Sophist's teachings, decided to break the elements of human reason and communication into forms ... they were chiefely known as grammarians and included the likes of Socrates. Among their "accomplishments" was the separation of human virtue (or excellence) into ethics-less morals and moral-less ethics which could be learned by rote.
Side note: I would suggest the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Piersig (sp?). It doesn't have much to do with either Zen or motorcycle maintenance but it is a good read with useful insights here and there into the distinctions between sophist and grammerians.
This meant that the grammerians could never promise a patron that their student would become "sophos" (that was deemed impossible anyway); but, they could reasonably assert that their student could become a "philosophos" ... in short they aimed lower to get more consistant results.
Now, the world "philosophos" was coined out of respect for the term "logos" (knowledge of truth or word of knowledge) as it relates to a specific time and place, the town Pilus where the latter term was said to have been coined. Thus "philosophos" is a limited knowledge of self, an attainable knowledge of what it means to be man. A philosopher is one who applys his reason to this goal.
Now notice what the grammerian philosophers actually did, they broke reality apart into forms and ideas which could be construed, compared and tested. They gave birth to (essentially) the first non-mystical science of recorded history.
However, their pagan world view was at loggerheads with the reason they sought to bring to bear. This is because the pagan religions were hardly ethical, or moral, or even reasonable. The gods of their myths were, if anything, super-men prone to excesses of personality relative to regular men in proportion to their attributed power in comparison to a man. In short they, and by extention the universe they created, were round the bend bonkers at times. Thus the universe these early scientist studied was itself deemed somewhat irrational, which helped to give rise to a number of odd views (everything from stoicism and its foil epicuranism (sp?) to a belief that common knowledge of the dodecahedronthe familiar d20 to gamerscould cause a breakdown of civilization).
In a related matter, rational men believing in irrational gods also gave rise to new forms of skepticism and dualism too.
Thus far the classical contribution to the rise of the scientific method (and the limits of that contribution).
Into the classical world strode the Christians with a very different and Jewish view of divinity. God is holy, a view that roughly parallels the Sophist idea of excellence with no division between moral and ethic, and what's more, God is reasonable. In a thread on the Hannity forums I have used the term "Deusophos" to attempt to describe the claims and implications of the incarnation, i.e. "God fully Man."
A rational God creates a rational universe. When Christianity exploded into the ancient world it did pull some of the old irrationality of paganism into its wake; however, there still was an emergent realization that the basis for nature was rational (because God was rational) waiting in the wings. In time this idea transformed the somewhat tottery classical philosophies and sciences in to the forms we know of today.
The birth of the scientific method came about as men sought to study their rational world in an applied way, thus the applied sciences.
Now, modern science, once born, did not expressly need religion in order to test the various proposed hypothesises that came along. Scientist are rationalist, they don't need to seek out a higher authority when they do their thing. But saying that a scientist doesn't need religion to be a scientist is not the same thing as saying he doesn't draw from the theology he accepts and that his world view doesn't shape the questions he ask or the answers he gets.
Remember the ancient scientist, how an irrational world shaped irrational and yet reasonable beliefs, for comparison.
So there is no sense that even applied science can be value-less since men are not without values. The beauty of the scientific method is that the values brought to the table are, at best, mere seasoning. That the underlying reason remains valid no matter if the person in question is a thiest or an athiest.
This leads into other assertions I have made about evolution: that saddling the science of evolution with the requirement that it prove a contention about ultimate origins of life is both a disservice to science and an impediment to drafting evolutionary laws which, in theory, could be construed.
But philosophical naturalist cannot allow evolution to be neutral to their cause. With them the science is subbordinated to a belief.
But is it really just a belief?
Well, to again borrow from Lewis: you can't put God in the dock. The fundamental aspects of naturalism is an assumption about origins of life (if not the universe). Where is the laborotory test for the composition of ooze or the timescale needed to demonstrate or disprove this contention?
The problem is that even the most strident naturalist/evolutionist admit that the transformation of Earth's atmosphere from a reducing form to an oxidizing form led to the wholescale elimination of evidince (not that simple cells, bacterium and viruses leave much evidence behind after billions of years anyway). This is because their theory requires Earth's early atmosphere to be chemically friendly to organic compounds in what is called chemical evolution.
This means we can't test the hypothesis in the same sense that we can compare the DNA of various breeds of cats (all of which have 38 chromosomes) or the domestic horse (64C) to Petawalski's (sp?) Horse (66C). This introduces at least one distinction into evolutionary theory: micro-evolution vs macro-evolution.
Micro-evolution could be considered the mere diversification of lifeforms without one kind of life (or unlife) evolving into another kind or life. Given the taxonomical record (which includes the fossil record) this is the only "observed" form of evolution.
Macro-evolution, on the other hand, deals with the transformations of all sorts which have only been speculated about. Taxonomy is almost meaningless to macro-evolution (especially that part dealing with origins of life itself) because there is a literal gap of billions of years of "nothing" from the time the Earth formed to a relative moment in time that life existed everywhere on the planet.
So even if we can test for the possibility of "chemical evolution" in the lab we can never demonstrate how life actually beganthat we have to take as a matter of belief.
A hypothesis that cannot be tested is hardly "scientific."
This is where "intelligent design" enters into the picture. Rather than dogmaticly adhere to the naturalist's conventional wisdom, intelligent design "fixes" the science of evolution by allowing that the science need not answer the ultimate questions of life, the universe and everything.
(It's "42" BTW.)
The universe is still billions of years old and evolution is still the mechanism for the diversification of life ... but by accepting the idea that we don't really know (though we may suspect) we allow scientist to concentrate on what they know and can observe rather on what they can't know or observe.
(Incidentally, intelligent design as I've presented it here is lousy Christian theology. That said, there is nothing in the Genesis account that disallows micro-evolution since all such evolution would occur within a common "kind".)
Of course this means that the science would be "broken" as an agency to prove the naturalist's world view.
Why is this a political concern?
Well, part of what is at stake is the rigorous form of secularism fomented during the early 20th century in this country. The secular idea is not just that the state should be impartial and uninvolved in matters of faith but rather that it should also promote a scientific understanding of the world through education as part of its duty to promote the general welfare.
But if naturalism is revealed as an unscientific philosophy as a result of the possibility of intelligent design being allowed for, then the basis for assuming secularism to be, well, secular is undermined too.
So instead of seeing their world view exposed, naturalist have redoubled their assertion that they arbitrate what is or is not scientific. It's life or death to them.
And President Bush, wiley Texan that he is, seems to understand that that dog won't hunt anymore.
A long vanity post is a very bad start. Good luck, though.
is a christian, i have no problem reconciling that god in his omnipotence, omnivoyance, omniscience, created in detail every single building block of matter and energy and set it forth using the big bang as the instrument of the dispersal of that matter and energy into the newly created medium of the ether/universe... i also have no problem in reconciling that evolution in it's infinite complexity is the manifestation of that creation...
And just in case...
Bad starts are not good. Rurudyne, you are going to get some interesting replies.
The truth is I lost interest around the time that the author finished his preamble.
If there is a sure sign of a dull writer, it's one who is compelled to provide color commentary of his (or her) own work within the work itself. So that 'preamble' and 'meat' commentary sent me into slumberland.
A very poor first post, though not a bad topic at all.
What Methadras says.
Also check out http://www.reasons.org/
True, not really a bad first post, if a little on the long side, but the old adage rings true - - "less is more".
"So instead of seeing their world view exposed, naturalist have redoubled their assertion that they arbitrate what is or is not scientific. It's life or death to them."
In their minds, science is the only form of knowledge. And they have replaced the priests as the new clerisy. Began to do so about the time of Darwin. Professional scientistst were rare before that time, plentiful thereafter. Darwin himself was one of the last "amateurs," even though it was his life's work, he did not make a living from it. Evolution brought poiwer and prestige not only to th naturalist but to every other sort of scientist. They became the dominant force in the universities. War brought them into government. Industry has also thrived on their work. So Darwinism DOES have a powerful symbolic meaning to them.
Yes it is. Science considers only what can be physically observed and can be demonstrated to exist.
If you can't demonstrate that something exists, so that anyone can examine it, it's not a proper subject of science. It belongs in religion, phil, or psych.
ME...non science minded. Heard that the chances of evolution occuring as described would be on par with shooting a bullet across the known universe and hitting a one foot or less target. Thus, intelligent design.
Pick your poison. Live right and die forever with no worries or live badly with nagging doubt and dread that you may die and live forever in a neighborhood not of your choosing. Seems like a pretty easy choice.
To even call God "intelligent" is human nonsense.
It is reducing the perfect mystery to something both human and imperfect.
Intelligence requires a system of thought, one prone to error and uncertainty, contrary to His omniscience and omnipotence.
ID, in essence, is a statement that the universe represents God's brain, not the product of any such brain, but God's brain itself. You may as well worship Gaia, or for that matter, your favorite book of chemistry and physics equations.
The Theory of Evolution is a theory and as such may or may not be true. But, this theory says nothing about the start of life and does not contradict the concept of Intelligent Design.
The concept of Intelligent Design (first conceived by St Augustine) contains nothing that contradicts the Theory of Evolution.
The concepts of Creationism and Naturalism as regards this planet both have a time problem in my opinion, the Earth is too old for the former and too young for the latter.
Gonna bookmark this one to follow the bloody fray.
Of course you must be joking.
Of course you must be joking.
because the opposite is not true...
Evolution theory abhors Intelligent Design.
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