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The Logic of Anti-ID Arguments

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10 comments to The Logic of Anti-ID Arguments

  • While the infinite regression argument is an interesting one, I still get a kick out of when Ken Ham says, “Evolution can’t explain the planet Neptune.” That always cracks me up.

  • Good question Paul,

    However it is not the same thing. See as Steven pointed out Evolution picks up AFTER life originated. It is not a theory of the origins of life as its enemies like to brand it, but it is a theory of life’s development after it originated.

    The main difference between the two arguments is that ID proponents assume the existence of an Intelligent Designer, who must be just as, if not more, complex as it’s creation (otherwise you have some sort of evolution, something more complex being created by something less complex). Evolution must assume the existence of a basic living unit, a cell for example, which is much less complex than life today. The first one adds no information and offers no solution. It can’t be verified, doesn’t make predictions, has no explanatory power.

    If you’re willing to assume that an Intelligent Designer just existed, then you must be equally ready to assume that life just existed. As such the ID answers eliminates the need to ask the question. It is logically self destructive, it makes the question it is trying to answer, unnecessary to answer.

  • ID is a flimsy attempt to push the ‘Creator’ back in time to defeat the problems inherent in the Creationist ‘recent earth’ argument. I don’t believe anyone argues ‘that ID is silly because it doesn’t explain the origin of the proposed creative intelligence’, and it would be naive to argue that science is silly if it fails to do the same.

    ID is silly because it tries to deny that complexity can come into being without any creative guidance. And we know, plainly, and from ample evidence, that it can. In fact ID is a kind of bluff move on the part of Creationists to divert attention from the absurd proposition that everything suddenly appeared as it is now, fully formed and operational 6000 years ago just like it says in the Bible. ID people have no choice but to accept the fact that humans can change God’s handiwork – just look at the hybridization of orchids, say – but their claim is that ultimately God is still in control. In other words, maybe God didn’t make the gadgets but he definitely made the parts. When it becomes clearer, as it is now, that humans can make the parts too, then God must have made the Rules. When science puts some good arguments together for the Rules, then ID/Creationism says yes, but it can’t explain how the Rules got there!

    To then advance the proposition that this means that therefore science is on the same footing as ID is completely erroneous. ID is not attempting to explain anything. It is doing the opposite in fact- it’s just saying ‘God did it’. That’s not an explanation – that’s an avoidance tactic. You could just as easily, and just as convincingly use the argument that ‘God created everything fully-formed – you & I and all our memories – yesterday!’ How could science ever ‘prove’ that wasn’t the case?

    I once gave some examples on my blog of the kinds of mistakes in thinking that Creationists and ID proponents make, I’ll spare you, but here is the one about complexity arising spontaneously:

    ‘Saying something like “What are the chances of the human eye arising entirely by chance? It’s a Miracle!!” is like pointing at a person on a bicycle and saying “Wow, what are the odds of seeing that particular guy, wearing that exact red scarf, on that exact model of bicycle riding down this exact street in London on a Tuesday in December?” Of course, they are ENORMOUS odds. You would not put a wager on such an event happening. Nevertheless, when you see that guy on his bicycle zip past, you don’t scream “It’s a miracle!” Why? Because it isn’t a miracle unless you consider it out of context and without all the relevant facts that led to that point.’

    Sorry, that was longer than I intended…

    Keep up the good work Rogues. I never miss the show.

  • medicated

    Want to have some fun when next you discuss this issue with a cdesign proponentist? Point out that if you can use the complexity of an object to imply the existence of a designer for that object, then you can also use the simplicity of an object to imply that it was not designed. Then ask if ID “theory” predicts that, say, a water molecule or a gram of silicon was not designed.
    In my experience, this eventually leads the IDer to reduce the complexity threshold for the implication of design, until eventually he/she/it/them gives up in disgust, or is forced to admit that every given object in the universe is so complex that it must have been designed. Once that point is reached, I find that explicitly religious arguments will shortly appear.
    As I said, this can be quite entertaining, especially if your cdesign propenentist claims to be approaching the issue from a scientific rather than a religious perspective.

  • BenjCano

    [quote]‘Saying something like “What are the chances of the human eye arising entirely by chance? It’s a Miracle!!” is like pointing at a person on a bicycle and saying “Wow, what are the odds of seeing that particular guy, wearing that exact red scarf, on that exact model of bicycle riding down this exact street in London on a Tuesday in December?” Of course, they are ENORMOUS odds. You would not put a wager on such an event happening. Nevertheless, when you see that guy on his bicycle zip past, you don’t scream “It’s a miracle!” Why? Because it isn’t a miracle unless you consider it out of context and without all the relevant facts that led to that point.’[/quote]

    I use a variation of that line of comment, but substitute license plates for “that guy in the red scarf,” mostly because people tend to have a better understanding of the cosmic odds involved with any particular combination of letters and numbers on a plate.

    I have yet to figure out how to work customized vanity tags into this analogy.

  • Yoo

    I would have a little respect for intelligent design proponents if they actually managed to scientifically explore and expand their ideas. E.g., let’s say that they manage to show that life has been designed (they haven’t even managed this first step), then the next step would be to find out attributes of the designer and how the design occurred with a mix of theory and experiments.

    They don’t even do the first step properly, though, and despite this they crow about how much intelligent design is a viable scientific theory. And this is despite the fact that they have absolutely no positive experimental evidence for their claims and that their usual approach is to poke the same supposed holes in evolutionary theory over and over again, even when said holes have been refuted or filled a long time ago.

    Intelligent design proponents don’t even manage to find new weaknesses in evolution that might point to new avenues of research for biologists (it feels like the last time this happened must have been a century ago, although I do wonder if there are any recent examples). No wonder I have no respect for intelligent design.

  • Jim Shaver

    BenjCano:

    By the way, the tags you want to use here for a block quote are <blockquote> and </blockquote>. Just trying to help with this internetty stuff. :)

  • mat alford

    Wouldn’t Paul’s question have been more subtle and more difficult to break down if he had ignored evolution and just concentrated on creation?

    The question as to the nature of the catalyst for the organic chemistry that resulted in ‘life’ is an awkward one. And whatever the force or energy for that reaction was, it certainly created something.

    For many sceptics, the only intellectually defensible position on the ‘deist question’ is one of agnosticism. This leaves room at least for the possibility of a creator that enabled that ‘first cell to form’. Evolution/natural selection then took over.

    This is why we should be careful to not always lump the creationists and the ID proponents together. ID is just dumb, and easy to pull apart. Creationism (depending on how you define it) maybe an acceptable position, although perhaps outside the realm of science.

  • Just as a further note to my previous comment… we can stick a fork in Creationism. She’s done. Evolution has been witnessed in the laboratory.

  • [...] Rogue’s Gallery talked about possible logical problems when criticizing intelligent design and does a good job of explaining why such criticisms are not illogical. I left a comment [...]

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