Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design

It astounds me to see how many theist blindly punt intelligent design as “Evidence” for the existence of their God(s). It seems of paramount importance to reiterate its fallibility for those who are oblivious to the issues of invoking design. So here in no particular order are my biggest gripes with the issue of design.

What is design anyway

One of the main arguments for design is complexity in nature, supporters of design argue that complexity in the universe could not have occurred through random events. The analogy they like using is that of a painting, in which the painting implies the existence of the artist that must have produced it. Even Isaac Newton, one of the pioneers of physics fell victim to the design problem when trying to reconcile the complex motion and stable orbits of heavenly bodies, this is what he wrote:

This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.

Another common practice of theist who are not familiar with basic concepts of philosophy or physics is to replace the word complexity with elegance or beauty. How can you say there is no God after observing a beautiful sunset or when walking through a tranquil forest, surely some one must be responsible for such elegance. These theists rarely dig into the core of what they saying, but their reasoning fundamentally boils down to an argument for design.

Irreducible Complexity

There are a few big problems with the premise of design. The most important is with the problem of irreducible complexity, a prerequisite of intelligent design. The complexity required to ratify design is simply not the kind that we see in nature. The universe is not irreducibly complex, natural systems simplify as one extrapolates back through time. This slow system of gradual changes over billions of years is enough to produce the complexity we observe today, thus muting the need for a designer. There is a mountain of observational evidence in astrophysics, geology, paleontology, biology and virtually every other field of science that support’s this.

The un-created creator

The teleological argument also has another gaping hole, if design is a law of nature; and we are to accept that the complexity of nature has to be as a result of a designer, then it surely follows that the entity responsible for designing the universe is at least as complex, if not more so than the designed universe. And if that entity is complex then surely it must also have been designed by a another complex entity, and so on. This is referred to as an infinite regress, and I was once very creatively accused of committing a categorical error by pointing that out. This is a typical ploy by theist to defend this position, they assert that “being designed” is not a property of our designer which terminates the infinite regress. This type of designer is referred to as “The Un-created creator”.  Theist love this kind of supposedly deductive reasoning in which they just haphazardly assert premises as being true: In order for B to be valid, condition A must be met… There for A is true, and B valid.  This could read as follows when applied to the un-created creator: In order for a creator to exist; the creator must be uncreated; therefore the creator is uncreated and so exists. This statement reeks of fallacies, and is worsened by the fact that they do not provide any evidence for how the creator is uncreated other than for saying: “It simply has to be”

The Creation Story

All religions have their own creation that involve it’s own flavour of radical world forging. I’m not going to dig into the children stories of creation, because we now know that the earth was not created in 7 days, or by snakes, or the mating of the water and the sky. We now understand the processes of steller and planetary formation that gave rise to the Earth. Anyone who subscribes to a biblical or religious account of creation is simply wrong.

The un-caused cause

Theist who don’t subscribe to biblical accounts of design or creation like to inject God at The Big Bang. Our reality is governed by cause and effect, like most of us theist rightly cannot fathom existence springing forth from nothing. This is usually where they come up with another poetic buzz name for a designer: “The Un-caused cause”.  This argument states that God is the ultimate cause of the universe coming into existence, the entity that caused the big bang. The argument runs into the same presumptuous issues as “The Un-created creator”, but it goes one step further in its grand stupidity by trying to assert that physics is somehow consistent with this concept. This is a wild leap of faith when our best and most precise instruments cannot make observations about the early nature of the universe. Our fundamental understanding of reality cannot even begin to describe nature before t=0. To inject God there is literally the embodiment of an argumentum ad ignorantiam! This argument translates to: We currently cannot understand the “events” before the big bang, therefore god must have caused it. We’re not even sure the concept of a cause makes sense at the big bang, theist must have some incredible insight into the early nature of the universe to be making such fallacious claims.

Un-intelligent design

There is nothing intelligent about intelligent design. Theist are too quick to make these meaningless philosophical arguments devoid of any evidence, then they make quantum leaps to connect these arguments to God or Allah. There is simply no compelling arguments or evidence that support the existence of a god. This kind of deductive reasoning tells us nothing about reality, and falls horribly short of qualifying as evidence for proving the existence of your personal God.

2 thoughts on “Intelligent Design

  1. Dear Skeptic

    I am a person that at my very core, respects the beliefs of those around me. Religion has, is and I foresee will for thousands of decades into to future be one of those topics that will never be agreed on by humanity. As you seem to have invited people to respond to your writings I want to take to time to convey somewhat of a non conflicting thought. The thought and belief is quite simple and does not takes sides, so I would like to apologize in advice if you were hoping for either supportive or defensive commentary to your rather well written and stimulating article.

    The simple thought : Someone for Everyone

    Now, I know that this heading makes no sense but please bare with me. Some one for everyone was a piece originally written about love, however it did turn out to be somewhat of a broader philosophy and that simple thought is that everyone needs something to believe.

    Religious beliefs in a creator and creation are no different. Having said that the belief in the Big Bang or sience is the same.

    Science as a Belief System.

    “As humans we are born into this world without any preexisting knowledge about our universe. … At first glance one might be inclined to state that a science is a system where beliefs are derived from objective methodologies and that a religion is a system of beliefs based on faith.”

    Science and Religion as belief systems
    “One of the greatest features of science is that it works as an algorithmic process of belief revision. No scientific belief being held can be said to be absolutely true, no matter how convincing it is. This is how science compensates for the small amount of faith it requires. All scientific beliefs are wrapped in a protective condition: A scientific belief can only be true if the basic assumptions of science are true, and absolute certainty cannot be obtained due to the problems inherited from subjectivity. All scientific statements have a built in emergency exit! Beliefs are able to change in light of new evidence or ideas.
    Religion in this regard, is a polar opposite. Beliefs are dictated and taken on faith. Belief revision is not encouraged. Indeed, religion has difficulty changing its dogma when pressured. Take for example, Christianity’s recent struggles to keep up with the rapidly changing times. Changes in the Christian belief system have had to been made with regards to the equality of women, homosexuality, and other social changes in our modern cultures. Belief systems which are based around faith change painfully and slowly.”

    Hofstadter, D.R. 1979. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. New York: Vintage Books
    Dawkins, R. 1976 The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press
    Minksy, Marvin. 1985. The Society of Mind. New York: Simon & Shuster

    All of the above indicate that not only are these belief systems the opposite of each other but also that they exist out of humanities necessity to believe in something. “From birth, formulating a belief system is essential to our survival, and perhaps even to our consciousness. Although all that exists for the individual is one’s subjective experiences, an external objective reality must be assumed in order to function on a level beyond your average garden vegetable.” Aaron Davidson

    So we know that we need to something to believe in but why
    I do not know. I think that humanity is in all its glory is young even after 315 000 years on an earth that has existed for 4.54 billion years old give or take 50 000 years. Complex creation is no more evidence of a creator that it is of the fact the we are such a young, naive, fragile species that has just begun to understand itself. Someone once asked me if i would cryogenically freeze myself if the opportunity was offered to me. I said yes without a second thought. For the simply that the we as a species are beautifully complex but we have yet to understand things as simple as our beliefs.

    We require time and growth in order to but scratch the surface of what we can be and become that.

    So then, some believe is a creator because they want to be the created and form part of the grand creation, others believe in the evolution of life and the algorithmic process that created and continues to evolve humanity, others believe in the simple things such as life, love and time. In the end no matter who you are or what side of the fence you are on, we all want to, have to or end up believing in something.

    The collector

    1. Hi Collector,

      Thanks for this incredibly dense response and kind of off topic response 🙂

      Based on your comments I would be very interested to know where you personally draw the distinction between things of the Objective Order and things that are of the Subjective order.
      As this is what I’ve come to understand to be the fundamental purpose of Science. For this reason, I would probably disagree with you in equating science to a belief system. It certainly does have a degree of “Guess Work”, which those who subscribe to belief repeatedly point out in saying: “Science cannot prove anything with absolute certainty” which is true, but this hardly qualifies it for a belief system.

      The study of history is my favourite in example regarding this, it is physically impossible to directly observe historical events which doesn’t seem to deter historians form making assertion with respects events that occurred in the past. Be that as it may I think equating the last mile of scientific inquiry to belief/faith grossly undermines the entire process.
      In the interest of at least trying not take sides, I can see how one might reasonably draw this conclusion. I my self am willing to concede the creation of belief systems is at the very least a crude and primitive form of science i.e early human beings saw the sun disappear at night (lets call that an observation) and then try to attach an explanation (not sure what to call this). They for lack of better tools and understanding just arbitrarily prescribed explanations to naturally occurring phenomena without any supporting evidence.

      And this is the key distinction for me, and why science cant be considered to be belief or contain elements of faith. Belief is accepting something as true in the absence of evidence, and often in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. This is a doctrine that science simply does not subscribe to. There is a very big difference in basing your conclusion on a leap of faith vs available evidence. Science is a process not a belief system.

      I agree that this is all one big attempt to make sense of the world i.e we wall need to believe in something. But science attempts to establish facts, belief has no bearing on facts, you can believe what ever you want… It has absolutely zero impact on the nature of reality.

      As to what the means for common experience, I would say that we all entitled to live in whatever fantasy we choose to. Living in a make-believe world probably helps us deal with a lot of anxiety when facing things like finality of death. But that’s exactly what it is, a fantasy world… It has no practical value other than to make us feel good about things that we are ignorant of. This is not long term sustainable.

      Also keep hanging out with your pro cryo friend, you obviously have excellent taste in company.

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