Monday, December 12, 2005

Philosopher Forgets What Metaphysics Means

Below is my annotated version of an op-ed piece by Douglas Groothius, professor of philosophy at the Denver Seminary; originally published in the Rocky Mountain News December 10.

Design critics often employ straw men.

Ever since President Bush advocated that the intelligent design critique of Darwinism be allowed in public schools, a riot of public pronouncements has condemned the design perspective as retrograde, unscientific and downright ominous. A number of logical fallacies are routinely employed in efforts to debunk intelligent design. In such cases, intelligent design is criticized and dismissed on the basis of an argument that is illogical and therefore false. One need not be an expert in Darwinian biology to sniff out these basic blunders. In this brief space I will note just one: the straw man argument. In the straw man argument a position is made to look ridiculous and then the caricature is knocked down. Intelligent design is repeatedly presented as a plan to institute religious and unscientific dogma in the public schools. The facts, however, speak otherwise. Intelligent design's think tank, The Discovery Institute, says this: "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." The controlling premise is the effort to discern the best explanation for a natural phenomenon, given the available empirical evidence: a fundamental precept of scientific investigation.

[Since the best explanation for any phenomenon -- i.e., the one that has nothing that itself is not falseifiable -- can never have a posited first cause, a designer is not part of such an explanation. The unnecessary introduction of a metaphysical agent (the designer) means you are trying to explain a natural phenomenon with a supernatural cause.]

Unlike creationism, intelligent design makes no appeal to religious texts, but invokes empirical evidence, as well as the principles of design detection, which are already used in sciences such as cryptography, archaeology, forensics, and in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

[This is plain false. What is looked for in most of the above fields are patterns that MAY be suggestive of artificiality. When natural patterns mimic these, they are never proclaimed by these fields to be anything but natural. This is a begged question fallacy. The fact of nature mimicking artificiality is taken not as evidence, but as PROOF, by God, that Old Nobodaddy did it.]

Groothius's appeal to SETI research is particularly egregious, pointing either to ignorance of the field or the outright mendacity that permeates Intelligent Design. Seti is not looking for Carl Sagan and Jodi Foster's series of primes. All they need is a continuous radio signal on a single frequency from a single point. Such signals are not known to occur in nature, and thus would have to be built by some one.]Mathematician and philosopher William Dembski argues that certain features of the natural world exhibit patterns that are best explained on the basis of design (or intelligent causes), rather than on the basis of mindless nature (or unintelligent causes).

[Not much of a mathematician. Let's see: I have one apple, go to the tree and pick another apple, and now I have two apples. That state of being in which I have two apples simply by picking another is way too deep to be anything but by some one's design! All levels of complexity are simply variations and extensions on the act of picking a second apple.]


For example, even if we didn't know from history that an eccentric artist was responsible, we would identify the presidential faces carved into Mount Rushmore as designed because natural patterns of erosion cannot explain them. The complexity of the phenomenon fits a specifiable pattern: the faces of the presidents, which we recognize from other sources. Similarly, archaeologists distinguish ancient artifacts from naturally occurring objects on the basis of design detection. The complexity discovered in certain objects fits a specifiable pattern indicating that intelligent causation was at work. Intelligent design proponents argue that some organisms indicate specified complexity, and that these organisms are better explained by intelligent causes than by natural law and chance alone. The DNA code is an example of specified complexity. It contains a language that is not reducible to the laws of chemistry and physics, which do not specify its content. The odds against all the factors required for DNA to come together through the operations of mere matter and chance are vanishingly small.

[Bullshit. The formation of DNA is a chemical reaction, like any other. It is not even unique in being self-replicating. If one chemical reaction is evidence for a designer, then all are. Singling out DNA is meaningless in advancing the argument from design.]

Similarly, biochemist Michael Behe argues in Darwin's Black Box that certain molecular machines are irreducibly complex, which means that all of its basic parts are required for its function, as with a mousetrap. The bacterial flagellum, for example, is a highly complex outboard motor attached to a bacterium. A gradual process of mere chance and natural law is insufficient to explain this irreducible complexity, Behe argues, since the motor function could not exist in evolutionary predecessors that lacked any of the many necessary parts. However, Darwinists insist that intelligent design invokes God to cover ignorance of natural processes. This is exactly wrong. The design inference is not based on ignorance, but on increased knowledge of the microscopic realm and on the well-established principles of design detection.

[Sad. He's a professor of philosophy, yet has no understanding of the argument from design or refutations of it from Hume on.]

When Darwinists refuse to admit intelligent cause as a possible explanation for specified complexity, this only reveals that they define science such that intelligent causes are disallowed in principle.

[Who says refuse? The question is not whether such an explanation is a possibility, but whether such an explanation is 1) necessary; and 2) valid as science. It is incredible to me how some people keep their jobs.]

But this approach is not a discovery of science itself. It is rather a philosophical commitment to materialism (the belief that reality is reducible to impersonal physical laws).

[The professor forgets that there are two ways to view the world, and science is one of them. Nothing that is not science is a fit subject for science. Michael Behe famously declared astrology to be science while under oath.]

May these few considerations spur readers to assess rationally intelligent design's actual arguments and to avoid the logical fallacies so often employed in place of intelligent thought about life's origins.

18 Comments:

Blogger Paul Adams said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NSU - 4efer, 5210 - rulez

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:23 AM  
Blogger EmmaAnderson said...

But I began to investigate for the source of this incongruous expression of the solicitude felt during the day, and analysis http://startso11.info/archidiecezja+drohiczy%C5%84ska.html revealed the connection.. I can http://startso11.info/na+rynku+++++hulajnogi++++akumulatorem.html build up a person by borrowing one feature from one person and one from another, or by giving to the form of one the name of another in my dream.. He didn't realize how dangerous it was until he had got so far into it that he couldn't back out; and he didn't tell her, because he'd left her here, you see, and under the circumstances---- http://startso11.info/stenaline.se.html Left her here! cried my wife.. Morland, and with what pleasure I need http://startso11.info/www.wiersze+.pl.html not assure you.. A girl of nineteen months was made to go without food for a day because she http://startso11.info/s%2Fpdif.html had been sick in the morning, and, according to nurse, had made herself ill through eating strawberries.. She possessed a thrifty common sense, and it was she who handled the http://startso11.info/www.wsz-iko.html finances of the family, and met all comers when there were bills to pay.. And if you do make them wait awhile, where's the harm? They've a http://startso11.info/akwarium.html dry roof over their heads, and I warrant it's not the first waiting they've ever had in their lives; and it won't be the last neither.. Wet as I am, it's ghastly! http://rebestal.info/bus.html Encouraged by his master's voice, and by the feeling of the familiar hand upon his bit, the horse moved bravely on.. I can thus describe these phenomena: During the dream work the psychical http://startso11.info/pakowanie+dokument%C3%B3w.html intensity of those thoughts and conceptions to which it properly pertains flows to others which, in my judgment, have no claim to such emphasis.. Before that http://startso11.info/Chmiest.html hour we can receive no visitors, and we never have company to tea, as that would interfere too much with our duties.. No, I said, I would not speak, http://startso11.info/wojtyra.html if ten Governors presided.. Mars' Ross--Mars' Ross! Head 'em off! http://startso11.info/diatus.pl.html sounded a yell, and Babe, the house-boy, came around the porch in pursuit of two half-grown chickens.. H'm, Reverend Le--well, there was a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of '49--or may be it was the spring of '50--I don't recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flume warn't finished when he first came to the camp; but any way, he was the curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned http://startso11.info/huta+szk%C5%82a.html up you ever see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side; and if he couldn't he'd change sides.. , and follow the detours of the unconscious excitations. http://rebestal.info/cropp.html. I will not pursue http://startso11.info/penelope+cruz+nago.html the further result of the thought.. By the aid of analysis it can be shown that every dream, without any exception, is linked up with our impression http://startso11.info/www.kamasutra+.pl.html of the day, or perhaps it would be more correct to say of the day previous to the dream.. A predisposing influence for the origin of the cerebral condition http://startso11.info/gra+skrable.html of the boy may be attributed to heredity and to the father's chronic syphilitic state.. For the pulling off, which serves to represent commercial http://startso11.info/2lo+chojnice.html dishonesty, the dreamer himself gives a second explanation--namely, onanism.. The horse seemed to be going faster than ever. http://rebestal.info/bk24.html. Seems foolish, I know, but http://startso11.info/moda.com.pl.html it do' seem as if a good po'k-chop, fried jes right, would he'p consid'able to disumpate this misery feelin' that's crawlin' and creepin' round my sperit...

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check this link, GWGaudtj [URL=http://www.adjustable--dumbbells.com/]bowflex selecttech[/URL] for gift NmtIHglq [URL=http://www.adjustable--dumbbells.com/ ] http://www.adjustable--dumbbells.com/ [/URL]

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you will like MyGyXDRO [URL=http://www.adjustable--dumbbells.com/]bowflex selecttech 552 dumbbells[/URL] for more detail YKPNbGoZ [URL=http://www.adjustable--dumbbells.com/ ] http://www.adjustable--dumbbells.com/ [/URL]

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its such as you read my mind! You appear to know a lot approximately this, like you wrote the book in
it or something. I think that you simply could do with a
few % to force the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I'll certainly be back.

Here is my web site: herbal party pills

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not know whether it's just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering problems with your site. It seems like some of the text within your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This may be a problem with my web browser because I've had this happen before.
Thanks

My page: Cheap Party Pills

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello there, You have done an incredible job. I'll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I'm confident they
will be benefited from this website.

Have a look at my blog :: orquesta atraccion

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

certainly like your website but you need to check the spelling on
quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues
and I find it very bothersome to tell the reality however I will definitely come again again.



Visit my site ... rockstar landing page

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible points. Sound reasons. Continue the good work.


Here is my webpage :: tree service

2:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home