Intelligent Design

I hope that the Legacy Code post doesn’t imply that I am any kind of fan of the Intelligent Design movement. As someone who finds value in both faith and science, a movement which so horribly distorts the things I find wonderful about both is pretty unappealing to me except in the context perhaps of having some fun.

In that spirit I want to relate a conversation I had with a representative of the Discovery Institute. If you are not familiar with them they are one of the preeminent think tanks behind the whole Intelligent Design thing. Basically I walked up to him at the coffee shop and asked him what their goals are. He talked non stop for at least 30 minutes giving me the whole spiel about how Darwin’s ideas have poisoned western thought and taken us away from God so that we are now living under the false doctrine of Materialism (where we view that matter and energy are all that exist), how irreducibly complex biological structures prove that evolution is impossible, how Materialism (understood as his definition above) is responsible for the socialism that is ruining our country starting with the Income tax. How people that believe in this doctrine are all socialists or communists because they don’t believe wealth can be created. He had power point and everything.

It was riveting in that “you can’t turn you head away from a train wreck” kind of way. In a real sense it was beautiful because his world view explained everything so well to his satisfaction.

I did my best to participate. But It was hard.

I tried to point out that I think there are lots of people who don’t believe in God or anything other than atoms and energy and yet are quite entrepreneurial. One might consider the world’s richest man as a good example.

This got me nowhere of course since I was clearly missing the point that its not the individual examples that matter but its the corruption of the “intellectuals” that is really the problem and this permeates and corrupts society in nefarious ways that might not be apparent. I assumed by that he meant that teenage girls have abortions because some academic at Harvard thinks its ok and not because they don’t want to be mothers.

I thought about trying to challenge his position on irreducible complexity but as a computer programmer I know way too much about complexity to have a discussion with someone so enamored of their own fiction.

So I settled on saying that I agreed with him that Materialism was the biggest problem in our country but I wanted to define it as people’s desire for things rather than for each other. I shared with him my experience in El Salvador and how I felt that our obsession with wealth and security in this country was in fact one of the biggest factors leading people away from God. I don’t think I really made an impression on him, but I did finally get him to stop talking.

All in all it was an interesting way to spend a few hours.

4 Replies to “Intelligent Design”

  1. You spend a lot of time berating Intelligent Design, but provide not one shred of logical refutation of its tenents. You also seem obsessed with getting that man to “stop talking”. Do you want to suppress his right to speech?

    Finally, I still don’t get why all supporters of the THEORY of Evolution are so worked up about it, seeing as it is merely a theory…a best explanation of something we do not understand? From, here is one definition of a theory: “a proposed explanation of something, usu. based on abstract reasoning.”

    So, evolutionists are enthusiastic about a concept that is not even A FACT, rather it is merely a “proposed explanation”, out of which has grown up an entire movement based on half-truth.

  2. First of all I dont think I was trying to really elaborate about ID. I think I was just trying to recount my experience with this one person’s world view. I also don’t think I can be accused of suppressing someone’s right to speech if I listen without interrupting for half an hour. For the record he did way more of the talking during the rest of the time too. It was only at the end where I felt like I got to say anything. Maybe he was just tired.

    As for the whole theory vs fact thing. Let me give you my view of how this whole “science” thing works. This theory vs Fact thing is actually pretty meaningless. In Science people propose theories to try to explain obsevered phenomenon and the theories which do the best job of explaining things tend to win. Its not unheard of or even that unusual for things which were at one point thought to be true to turn out to not be. I call this progress.

    The ID people are convinced that their theory does a better job of explaining the world than Evolution does. For thier theory to win they have to accomplish two things in my view. 1) They have to actually state a real theory instead of just alluding to the idea that things look too complicated to be made by accident. 2) they have to demostrate that thier theory explains the way the world is better than evolution does.

    Maybe they will be able to do that. But so far they have not so that is why evolution is on top.

    In the end I don’t really care. I am just looking for reason and objectivity both in faith and in science.

    Just to show there’s no hard feelings here’s a good joke which I think makes the point.

    Man: Hey God, I think I have discovered the secret of life and I can make it just as well as you.

    God: Oh really lets have a go.

    Man: Ok lets each take a handful of dirt and see what we can make from it.

    God: No way, you get your own dirt.

  3. I believe the entire argument is a side effect of each camp mistakenly trying to own something they can’t possibly. Science should stick to doing science and stop trying to prove/disprove the existence of God, and religion shouldn’t try to control the rules of the physical world. Historically, we’ve repeatedly seen the church fail at owning the rules of the physical world. They just don’t conform to the rules of faith. Because religion is reaching out and trying to control the physical world on its own terms, eventually the strain between scientific fact and internal truth breaks and we have an event where religion must reconcile with science. You cannot change anything by arguing with solid, proven scientific facts. Your arguments won’t change the measurements taken by people. You can always argue with solid faith since all internal truths are changeable, since in this realm it is a personal choice on what is true. For instance: a person can convert to another faith and their newly adopted set of truths is now valid for them. How can the realms of science and religion possibly overlap if the fundamental tenet of what validates science doesn’t matter in the realm of religion and vice-versa?

    That paragraph seemed to favor science, but I want to emphasize that both are valid. Said another way: God is part of our “internal” world. In a common denominator sense, the God concept is one of a body that transcends and includes everything, and is the ultimate source of everything. It automatically accepts everything because it *is* everything. Of course a common denominator isn’t possible; there are exceptions. There are many variations of what God is in our world and all are true since it is ultimately a completely personal decision on what is “true” in this internal realm. This *not* how the realm of science works. In science, if I measure something, anyone in the world can check my work and if we all agree, we have found something that is “true” in the external world of atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, gravitational fields, etc. Both realms are valid and important, and they don’t overlap anywhere. Neither one can be reduced to the other. Both have their own measure of truth, and must respect each other in this way. If this bind between them – this overstretching of authority – where to somehow be unbound, and if each could know the natural boundaries of their realm, then both could flourish and coexist, even help each other on occasion!

    Here’s a funny dialog:

    Religion: The sun orbits the Earth because humans are way too special to have evolved from monkeys!

    Science: The Earth orbits the Sun, we proved it.

    Religion: Well, people didn’t come from monkeys!

    Science: It looks like they did; we’re still working out the details.

    Religion: Ha! You haven’t proved it yet!

    (Some years pass)

    Science: Ok, we proved it, and we have it on film. I imagine you’ll need to adjust your verbiage accordingly.

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