left biblioblography: Design Without A Designer - The Teleological Teat, Revisited.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Design Without A Designer - The Teleological Teat, Revisited.


Cross posted at God is for Suckers!

I've been perusing The Counter-Creationism Handbook by Mark Isaak - and it's a compilation of the plethora of casuistic counter-evolutionary claims, and it's a long, looonnnggg list of complaints lodged against evolutionary theory, most of them niggling little nuggets of nonsense.

More often than not, I am stunned by the addled idiocy of my fellow humans. When I was younger, I'd be stunned into silence by the utter stupidity of some verbal diversionary tactic of the mental midgets.

I seriously advise picking up this book. It gathers the commoner counter-claims, and lays them to rest in a rational, logical fashion, quite similar to the Talkorigins site.

As I've pointed out before, the teleological is the more difficult of these discussions, at least on a superficial level. Some simple investigation usually lays the majority of these items to rest.

Here's a few tasty little morsels:

Could life arise spontaneously? If you read How Cells Work, you can see that even a primitive cell like an E. coli bacteria -- one of the simplest life forms in existence today -- is amazingly complex.

This is a ridiculous comparison. A 'primitive' cell today is by far more complex than a primitive cell a billion years ago. Argument from incredulity. Try a different tack - I use the term 'compounded simplicity'.

The cosmos is fine-tuned to permit human life. If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, life would be impossible. (This claim is also known as the weak anthropic principle.)

The Talk Origins link covers this nicely:

The claim assumes life in its present form is a given; it applies not to life but to life only as we know it. The same outcome results if life is fine-tuned to the cosmos.
We do not know what fundamental conditions would rule out any possibility of any life. For all we know, there might be intelligent beings in another universe arguing that if fundamental constants were only slightly different, then the absence of free quarks and the extreme weakness of gravity would make life impossible.
Indeed, many examples of fine-tuning are evidence that life is fine-tuned to the cosmos, not vice versa. This is exactly what evolution proposes.

The argument from long odds:

...the odds calculated by Morowitz and Hoyle are staggering. The odds led Fred Hoyle to state that the probability of spontaneous generation 'is about the same as the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junk yard could assemble a Boeing 747 from the contents therein.' Mathematicians tell us that any event with an improbability greater than one chance in 1050 is in the realm of metaphysics -- i.e. a miracle.1

This is perhaps the most specious of arguments. We're here, and what criterion is used to generate this number? But really, how on earth do you calculate these odds? Do we have alternate universes that have these components misarranged for comparison? Yes, this is abiogenesis - but I've seen this concept applied to the argument from fine tuning, (see above) i.e., if select items were just a little bit off kilter, we wouldn't be here.

Of course, the (not-so) clever word play creeps in - "Hey, if you use the word 'design', it implies a designer!" Well, design is in the natural order of things, but it doesn't necessitate a supernatural first cause. Or the good ole "So everything was an accident!?!?", which I disemboweled here - because after all, language is a two-edged sword, is it not?

But we are. And everything just is. And we all make our own purpose, no?


Till the next post, then.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've had that book on my amazon list for a while. I think your recommendation will finally make me go buy it. :) Thanks!