Repeated And Failed Arguments To Intelligent DesignMay 12, 2010
Here are a number of repeated challenges which have been circulating for decades.
1. “Science only deals with the material (physical, natural) realm and only seeks material causes.”
(a) ID (intelligent design) is a natural cause. I am intelligently designing these sentences and I am natural. When we look at Stone Hendge we don’t infer that it was made by the “supernatural”, nor do we infer that it was caused by natural processes of wind and erosion, etc. Rather, we infer the natural cause of intelligence. We don’t entirely know who the intelligent agents were, but that does not preclude us from still accepting ID. That would be illogical. Rationality tells us that ID is a natural phenomenon. If aliens did it, then it’s natural. If God did it, then that means that God is natural. Whatever reality is we have to accept as being “natural”. We don’t fully know what all of reality is, thus must still be open to what is considered “natural”.
(b) ID can absolutely be inferred by methodological naturalism (=observation and using the scientific method). However, ID comports less with philosophical naturalism (=ultimate reality is mindless matter). Intelligence is a reality that supersedes mindless matter. This does not necessarily appeal to the supernatural, however; it just means that we could posit intelligence as being natural — leaving philosophical naturalism as not being natural, but a false paradigm. Science does not, and cannot prove or disprove philosophical naturalism, yet this is the paradigm that has been the cult of personality for the last 200 years. It began, not by scientists, but by philosophers, and was promulgated by Darwinian Evolution. But since science can’t prove or disprove it, it’s interesting that it’s treated as a-priori within the scientific community, creating a confirmation bias. To truly be scientific we must look to methodological naturalism, not philosophical naturalism.
(c) This puts a limitation on “science”. It limits the causes we can infer to account for things. This is an arbitrary limitation on what otherwise could be possible explanations for effects within the universe, or even the universe itself. If you call yourself a scientist, why would you want to limit possible causes for things? That’s actually VERY un-scientific.
(d) It assumes what the “material realm” is. People who say “science only studies natural phenomenon and looks for natural causes” do not know what they’re saying. Literally, they don’t know what they’re saying because no one knows what the “natural” is ultimately comprised of. The most basic components of the atom are quarks (which make up the nucleus) and leptons which are said to make up the electrons (which orbit the nucleus from a very far distance). Everything else is empty space, while the most basic components (quarks and leptons) are said to be made up of the “string” (string theory). The string is said to not even take up space, which goes against the classical definition of “matter”. We don’t exhaustively know what the “string” is. Therefore, “nature” = “?”. When people try to limit science to only to the “natural” realm, they’re basically saying “science only studies the ‘?’ realm”. No one knows what the realm ultimately entails, yet it can’t be allowed to entail intentional design or intelligence for some arbitrary reason.
Therefore, when “naturalistic” scientists assume that super-natural explanations cannot be allowed within “science”, they have already revealed their bias. If you don’t know what the “natural” realm ultimately entails then you have no basis to assume anything beyond it is “super-natural”. You can’t exclude “super-natural” causes until you first exhaustively know what is “natural”. You can’t say something is beyond this realm when you don’t even know where this realm begins and ends.
(e) What you refer to as “super-natural” now you may someday refer to as “natural” once you learn more about it. The problem is no one knows what is “natural”, therefore when you say “super-natural” it may be “natural” all along. Take the Big Bang theory for example. It was first rejected for having “religious” and “meta-physical” undertones, yet is a theory now widely accepted among naturalists. (We throw the terms “natural” and “super-natural” around a lot without second thought, but the lines between these are very blurred in many ways. It’s just that no one ever questions they’re assumptions about what the “natural” ultimately is. Naturalists just assume they know what they’re talking about when they say “natural” but they have no idea.)
2. “If you’re saying there is an intelligent designer, then who/what is the designer?”
(a) Ignorance of who/what the designer is doesn’t preclude an intelligent designer from being a possible cause. People who raise this point are so zombie-ish and glossy-eyed. Let me ask the “naturalist”… “if you say the world was caused by the Big Bang, then who/what caused the Big Bang to take place?” What?! You don’t know! Haha! I gotcha. Since you don’t know, according to your own logic you’re not allowed to infer that the universe even had a first cause outside of itself. Does this type of reasoning really work? Of course not! The Big Bang theory is still a theory EVEN though empirical science can’t prove to us who/what caused it. But the silly double standard is that ID can’t be a theory for this reason according to some. What amazing and consistent reasoning!
(b) No one knows who built Stone Hendge. However, we still infer that it was designed and wasn’t an accident with the appearance of design. Yet, according to the silly logic above we’d be forced to conclude that Stone Hendge was an accident merely because we don’t know who made it! What amazing intellectualism!
3. “But if you say God did it, then that’s a curiosity stopper.”
(a) How is that a curiosity stopper? It wasn’t for Galileo, Copernicus, and Newton whom were all Deists. Why is your curiosity stopped so easily?
(b) In what way is your curiosity being stopped? Your curiosity isn’t really stopped. Your curiosity should seek to come to terms with any given possible cause, even God. If you don’t want God to be a cause, then that’s not a problem with your curiosity being stopped, but a problem with you not allowing God to be entered into your curiosity. Maybe some day you could watch God make more matter and let Him show you the finer details of how it works. That would still be empirical observation which does not subtract from the definition of science whatsoever.
(c) Why does God being a possible scientific cause limit one’s curiosity any more than any other possible cause? A cause is simply just a cause! You can still learn about all the details of how something works, regardless of what the cause is! Further, let’s say star dust best accounts for everything. In fact, that’s what the guy on the Discovery Channel said, namely, “the stars are our ancestors”. So instead of saying “God did it” we now get to say “star dust did it”. Congratulations! Isn’t your curiosity so much more peaked now?! If someone is going to mope around and say “I don’t want to do science now, boo boo boo, because I know that God caused everything”, then to be consistent all “naturalistic” scientists need to also mope around and say “I don’t want to do science now, boo boo boo, because I know that star dust caused everything, boo boo boo.”
(d) Some don’t like to think of God as a “cause” for any scientific explanation because it’s “too boring”. But star dust as a final cause is even more boring if you think about it. One major reason why is because star dust is lifeless and doesn’t have a glorious purpose for all that happens in history and all which will take place in the future. With star dust you can only go so far and ask “what is” or “how does this work”. With Christ we can ask this, but ALSO ask more, namely, “why is this” or “why is it this way”. That’s way more exciting, especially if the “why” question I’m asking is in accordance to an eternal, beautiful, and glorious purpose!
4. “But if God is the designer then who designed God?”
(a) This would be a fine question… for a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon! It depends on which theistic worldview you’re addressing. JW’s believe that God created Jesus whom then created the universe, and Mormons believe that the universe is eternal and that Jesus is simply one god in the chain of an infinite regress of gods. However, the Christian worldview would say that Jesus is God and is an un-caused cause. He is an un-created creator. Christ is eternal. He is outside of time. He created the finite universe by commanding it, and he holds it together within his own being. So the answer for the Christian is “nothing created God”. He is eternally self-sufficient.
(b) This type of repetitious questioning, i.e. “then what caused the designer” can be just as easily asked about an impersonal cause. Naturalists assume an impersonal cause which caused the Big Bang. Therefore, I can ask the same repetitious question, “what caused the Big Bang? And what caused that, and what caused that, etc.” Philosophically speaking, one eventually realizes that they need a “prime cause”, or, a cause which is un-created (eternal). Yet, by definition, that’s what the first cause of the universe should be assumed to be anyways, hence why it’s outside of time, space, matter, and energy (as we know it) – while then causing it all. When the Christian says God is the designer, all this needs to be kept in mind by “naturalists” (but for some reason never is – which indicates either ignorance of dishonesty on their part). That’s why it’s pointless to ask “who caused God” in the Christian worldview. Since he’s Biblically the prime cause, we can’t point to any gods who created God, because then we’d call that God. We skip to the chase and say “God”, the un-caused cause.
(c) Let’s assume a Mormon was answering this. They would have to tell you that there is an infinite causal chain of designers. God was created by a god, whom was created by a god, whom was created by god, unto infinity. Philosophically speaking, that is impossible. You can’t have an infinite causal chain within time. By definition, infinity within time can never be reached, it can only be in progress. Nevertheless, let’s assume Mr. Mormon is asked this question: “who designed the designer?”. Even though their answer would not make any philosophical sense, the question still does not preclude an intelligent cause! Even if the designer was designed (in such a way which is or isn’t a philosophical possibility) this does not mean that intelligence can’t be inferred. It’s one thing to ask “is this phenomenon best accounted for by an intelligent cause” and it’s an entirely different thing to ask “what made that cause” (if anything). These are two separate issues.
5. “There’s no need to assume the super-natural or an intelligent designer. Scientists are working on explaining how DNA and the fine tuning of the universe can be naturally explained.”
(a) We’ve already looked at why science is limited when only “natural” explanations are allowed, and how the “natural” can’t even be exhaustively defined. But what is the proper response to this promissory note that “naturalism” will someday answer these problems? How about this: “Thanks for the promissory note!” Now here’s mine: naturalistic atheists wont be able to find “natural” causes (un-intentional causes) which satisfactory explain the complexity and specificity within the universe. They presented their promissory note and I presented mine. None of this does anything but reveal what our biases and traditions are.
6. “Why don’t intelligent design advocates question other theories, i.e. gravity or relativity?”
(a) These theories don’t assume “naturalism”. That’s the major reason! In fact, finely tuned gravitational forces all the more disprove “naturalism”. Further, one is only revealing the double standard which exists within high school classrooms when they make this rhetorical argument. The reason is because theories of gravity and relativity can be freely, openly, and continuously challenged by scientists, especially within the classroom (as all students of science are scientists). And even Newton said that “God controls gravity” when asked about it. Newton understood that his laws merely described the uniformity and proportional aspect of nature, yet attributed such finely tuned induction ultimately to God.
7. “Intelligent design, if it were to be taught in public schools, goes against the 1st amendment or separation of church and state.”
(a) It does not go against the 1st amendment which states, “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” If one can scientifically infer that Stone Hendge was built by intelligent agents and if competing theories are allowed for who actually built it, then it should be no different with ID. No single establishment of religion is being respected over and above all others. Believing that intentionality best accounts for complexity and specificity (especially at the cellular level) does not establish a certain religion over another. The science might favor a certain worldview as opposed to another worldview in this case, but that is not the same as respecting an establishment of religion.
(b) The Constitution is actually being violated when “naturalism” can’t be challenged, especially in the public classroom because the 1st amendment also states “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The religion of “naturalism” is established and ID is prohibited. Even if ID is said to be “religious”, then public schools should not be allowed to prohibit it. The major reason is, like I’ve already pointed out in (a) above, is that ID is not being established as a religion but is only suggested as a possible scientific worldview, among others, within the public school. Multiple scientific worldviews should be let into public schools. This should be expected and should not be considered a violation of the 1st amendment.
(c) The phrase “separation of church and state” is not even in the Constitution, but was something Jefferson wrote in a letter to Baptists whom didn’t want the state of Connecticut to force them to pay taxes to support the majority religion (the Congregationalists). The Baptists called on Jefferson and he advocated the 1st amendment, which wasn’t yet binding to states at the time. There was to be a wall between church and state for the sake of one not controlling the other. It’s one thing for the state to control religion, or for religion to control the state, and an entirely different thing for the state to posit God or a god as a possible prime cause to all things. The problem is that many people repeatedly chant, “separation of church and state!” as though it somehow meant “we’re required by law to only assume natural causes.” Anyone who looks at the context of separation of church and state can easily see this wasn’t the case.
(d) The term “church” or “religion” cannot be exhaustively defined. In its basic definition “religious” can mean to firmly believe a set of principles. In this sense, even “naturalists” are religious because they firmly believe in “naturalism” even though they don’t ultimately know what “nature” even is. Nevertheless, “naturalism” is the predominant religion (or worldview with given principles firmly held) within public schools. If the 1st amendment and separation of church and state were really being enforced, then “naturalism” would be allowed to be challenged freely and openly among teachers and students. In a world where there really was no separation of church and state, teachers wouldn’t be fired if they challenged “naturalism” and public schools would still get science funds even if some of their teaches challenged “naturalism”. But that type of free thinking is the “naturalists” worst nightmare.
7. “ID isn’t falsifiable.”
(a) The problem with saying that something can only be known if it is falsifiable is a statement which cannot be falsified itself. It’s like in Star Wars when Obi Won Kenobi says “only the dark-side believes in absolutes”, yet the Jedi just made an absolute statement himself! Yet, I digress because particular scientific methods request that things are falsifiable, especially when such scientific methods are being peer-reviewed in order to be published in modern scientific journals.
(b) Nevertheless, ID is falsifiable. ID holds that there are particular criterion which can be consulted in order to infer whether something is designed or not designed, or whether something more likely came about by intention as opposed to non-intention. Granted, this assumes that the criterion for determining this is the best criterion. But even if the criterion to determine this is debated, so what? That’s how science works. What if we wanted to falsify whether something was a “species” or not? Well the criterion for “species” isn’t fixed and depends on whom you’re asking. But once a person accepts given criterion for how to determine this then they can falsify it. It would be no different with ID.
(c) Naturalsim isn’t falsifiable. Or if it is, then it hasn’t been falsified yet, nor explained how it can be. The philosopher David Hume is the one whom began emphasizing that scientific claims need to be falsified, thus this standard is only about 200 years old.
8. “If ID is true then the designer is tricking us because why would the designer make things which serve no function, i.e. junk DNA, etc.?”
(a) Besides the fact that junk DNA is said to have a function now, even if it didn’t this still wouldn’t preclude ID.
(b) “Naturalists” make claims like, “if there is a designer then it’s tricking us because some things appear to have no function or purpose”. However, things in this world which clearly have a specific and complex function, or a purpose, far outweigh complex things which have no function. Therefore, if “naturalism” is the case, it’s actually tricking us way more that there is a Designer (due to the inference of intention via purpose) than God supposedly is tricking us with “naturalism”. Thus, this argument doesn’t hold water whatsoever.
9. “If there is a designer then it did a crappy job, because my eye sight isn’t as good as an eagle’s.”
(a) Just because your eye sight sucks, doesn’t preclude ID. It just means you’re whiny about what the Designer gave you. Instead you should be thankful because if there is a Designer, it didn’t have to give you jack squat but did anyways.
(b) If you’re a “naturalist” and you really think it sucks then to be consistent you believe that “nature” made your eyes suck and that it did a crappy job. You’re really just mad at star dust. Those stupid stars! But mindless “nature” doesn’t care. It doesn’t even know what crappy eyes are. You’re then trying to go against “nature”, but you can’t, because even when you do, it’s part of nature too. This is turning into a ‘Love and Rockets’ song! (Love and Rockets – No New Tale to Tell)
(c) It’s being assumed that the Designer intended for your eyes to meet your whiny standards. This is more of a theological issue. Biblically speaking, this 2 second life does and will suck compared to glorification (receiving our new and indestructible bodies – which will also be void of a sin nature). After this happens our eyes should be even better than Adam and Eve’s were before sin.
10. “Just because you can poke holes in the Theory of Evolution doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
(a) Just because you can fit evidence into a purely naturalistic paradigm of the world does not mean that Darwinian Evolution is necessarily proven. Such evidence could fit into a non-naturalistic paradigm as well.
11. “ID is making our next generation dumber. If we want to advance our society and have hope for the future, we have to believe in biological Evolution.”
I hear this often by militant atheists, who happen to be the face of science to the public. Not all Evolutionists have a purely mechanistic view of the world, but many do. The ones that do tend to religiously speak out against theism meshing with science. I’ve written extensively already on this blog about why this is a false dichotomy, so I digress. Furthering science (a way of inquiry, not a body of knowledge), and furthering the betterment of society is not contingent upon the presupposition that we “naturally” evolved. One can do these things regardless of holding to the axiom that we came from nothing. Francis Crick has enomously contributed to society, especially the scientific community, and he is a theist and questions certain aspects of Darwinian Evolution.
In fact, philosophically speaking, one could all the more argue the opposite. If we come from nothing and return to nothing, then why kid ourselves that while living in the middle of it all we are of any value? Could this paradigm actually be hindering our future? Why are school shootings increasing? Could there be a correlation in unrepentant autonomous behavior and the predominant worldwide spiritual view of “Oneism” (a lack of the Creator/creation distinction)?
I also find it very odd that many militant atheists who think that our future is predicated upon an adherence to biological Evolution do so arbitrarily and never mention this in regard to any other theory, but only Evolution. Very strange. I suspect the reason is because, like I’ve also written about, no scientific theory bolsters Naturalism more than Darwinian Evolution does. If this theory is challenged, then Naturalism is challenged. If this happens then “Oneism” cannot prevail as easily.