Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Crazy Sense Is Tingling!

And this article is the reason. The author makes some amazingly nutty statements in his attempts to prove that the critics of intelligent design (ID) are "deceitful." Let us step through the looking glass and see what he has to say.

First of all, they allege that ID theorists failed to name the designer. The fundamental problem with this criticism is that intelligence in fact has been named as the designer--after all, the theory itself is called Intelligent Design. Thus the designer is intelligence. And because there is absolutely no demonstrable evidence that an intelligence above and beyond human intelligence exists, by default the credit for design in nature goes to human intelligence.

Huh? Wait a minute. Human intelligence is the "designer?" Humans designed themselves? That seems pretty incredible to believe. It's like the old list of dumb things that supposedly American high school students wrote on essay tests that includes, "Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin he built with his own hands." To quote Roger Zelazny, neat trick, that.

Oh, no wait, he's actually going somewhere with this, somewhere that he'd know he wasn't supposed to go if he'd read his ID talking points...

If ID critics want me to be even more specific, Christ identified himself as
that intelligence which created the universe to make reproductions of himself in
the form of human beings. In other words we find design in nature because Christ
constitutes the seed of the universe, or the cosmic system’s input and output.
As he disclosed it in Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First
and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Uh... okay. So, the universe is a giant photocopier making copies of Jesus? And now Jesus is not only a door (read your Bible!), he's also a "seed." But a seed doesn't design the tree or plant it turns into. The seed contains the plan, it contains the design of what will become the tree, but doesn't actually make the design. I fail to see how this analogy works.

Is he trying to say that Jesus is the "designer"? I think he is, but he's being a little new-Agey and squirrelly about it. But if he is saying Jesus is the "designer," then apparently the Discovery Institute, Dembski, Behe, and the other supporters of ID are misinformed, because they claim that the identity of the "designer" isn't part of ID and isn't necessary for the theory to work. Which, of course, makes the author at best disingenuous and at worst deceitful himself, because it's not just critics of ID who say ID doesn't name the "designer," it's the ID movement itself!

Why is the "designer" left unnamed? Because the only reason ID exists is because the teaching of creationism in US public schools was struck down because it was clearly religion, not science, thus violating the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment, and so ID was created as "religion in a scientific theory's clothes" to get past the 1st Amendment problem. (Which, of course, it did not when it got its day in Dover PA in the Kitzmiller case). So the author is making a big boo-boo here in naming the "designer," if, in fact, that's what he is doing.

He’s asking us to meditate on any kind of seed-bearing plant, and if we are able
to infer based on our observations that the universe exists, and we exist
because the parent seed of the universe needed a “manufacturing” plant for the
production of human beings in its own image, then we’ll gain enlightenment.

So... the universe is like the soil that a seed grows in or something? Well, that doesn't solve anything. Seeds come from trees. Where did the "seed" that is Jesus come from? Some would say God, the Father, even though most Christian theology contends that the Father and the Son have both always existed. But even if we say God, then where did God come from? Seeds don't come from nowhere. And, if God, being much greater than man, doesn't need a "designer," then why does man? If God can just exist, then why not the universe?

Second, ID critics allege that the theory fails to provide testable claims.
Again, this criticism is demonstrably false: ID is eminently testable, has been
tested, and is being tested constantly. As a matter of fact, ID needs no testing
at all. The fact that design is the basic quality of intelligence is so
self-evident that anyone who doubts it has to be exquisitely ignorant or
entirely delusional.

Well, great! That wraps it right up. It's obvious to the author, so it must be true! No further evidence required. Hey, I think it's pretty obvious that I am the reincarnation of Napoleon, too, and if you don't believe this obvious fact, then you are "exquisitely ignorant or entirely delusional." Ta-da!

I also like how the author says that the criticism that ID isn't falsifiable is "demonstrably false," but then, rather than demonstrating how ID could be falsified, he immediately jumps in with, "ID needs no testing at all." Great stuff.

"ID is true."
"How do you know? Have you tested it."
"I could."
"Have you?"
"Why not?"
"Don't need to."
"Why not?"
"It's obvious, unless you're ignorant or delusional."
"Ah. So unless I'm ignorant or delusional... ?"
"You believe it's true."
"How do I know it is true?"
"Because I said so."
"And how do you know?"
"Because it's obvious."

Well, that's certainly an air-tight argument.

But then, the author decides to throw logic out the window with this gem:

What needs to be demonstrated is not the fact that design is the basic quality
of intelligence, but the abysmal absurdity that the formation of systems in
nature—from atoms to the universe--is the basic quality of zero intelligence.
Needless to say, the burden is on the critics of Intelligent Design to
demonstrate that structure formation in the universe is the product of zero
intelligence. Those who rabidly promote that nonsense are most qualified to do
the demonstrations, having near-zero intelligence themselves.

Er... no. First off, there is no such thing as "zero intelligence" to have qualities. He's just making stuff up now, creating some weird straw man to argue against. But, in any case, if he is arguing that proponents of evolution have the burden of proof regarding whether evolution is true, that is correct. And guess what? There is all kinds of evidence for evolution. The evidence for evolution is as solid as the evidence for gravity. The fact that the author chooses to ignore the evidence does not magically mean it doesn't exist.

Secondly, even if evolution lacked sufficient evidence to support it, that wouldn't say a damned thing about whether ID is true or not. ID and evolution are not the only possible options, and ID doesn't win by default if evolution is wrong. There could be a third option we haven't discovered yet. But creating a false dichotomy saying if not p then q is a fallacy. Arguments don't win by default in science. In order to prove ID, its proponents would have to do more than just tear down evolution: they'd have to present evidence for ID.

Of course, when your argument makes no sense at all, there's always insulting those who disagree with you, which the author dutifully does here.

Notice how the author hasn't yet told us just how ID is falsifiable either?

In short, the claim that zero intelligence is the cause of structure
formation in nature is pure speculation. Facts do not warrant it, and analogy
does not support it. On top of that, the constant generation of structures by
intelligence falsifies outright that lamebrained concept.

"Zero intelligence," whatever the hell that is, isn't the cause of anything. More straw men. Evolution argues that through a natural process that isn't the result of a guiding intelligence is responsible for speciation. That natural processes are responsible for speciation is anything but "pure speculation" and the facts do, in fact warrant it. Ignoring the facts doesn't make them go away, sir.

And I have no idea how in the hell "constant generation of structures by intelligence," whatever the hell that means, "falsifies outright that lamebrained concept." Once again, the author is arguing by "I said so, so it's true." If he has evidence that falsifies evolution he should definitely present and publish it, because he'll be world-famous instantly. He doesn't, of course.

When we wish to have an apple tree in our garden, we simply plant an apple seed,
and get a tree that bears apples. Voilá, Intelligent Design has been
demonstrated--the design we find in the tree’s structure comes from the seed’s
intelligence. Moreover, the design we find in a building comes from its
designer, and the design we find in our body comes from the human genome or
human intelligence.

Wow. Another paragraph of gobbledygook. The author's use of the word "intelligence" is as inconsistent as the quality of network television. In what sense a seed has "intelligence" is not clear to me. A seed has DNA, which is like a plan for a tree, but the seed isn't sentient. I don't see how this form of "intelligence" has anything to do with his earlier definition of "intelligence." But this is a neat rhetorical trick: just call the natural process that turns a seed into an apple tree "intelligence" and walla! ID must be true. Except that all he has done is change terminology. This sort of "intelligent" design isn't actually anything but evolution with DNA suddenly called "intelligence." Proves nothing.

And, once again, the author claims recursively that humans designed themselves, which still makes no sense whatsoever.

Seeing that any design we have is caused by intelligence, what makes the critics
of Intelligent Design believe that zero intelligence is the cause of structure
formation in nature? On what empirical evidence do they base the evidental
nonsence [sic] that zero intelligence can generate anything superior to itself? If the
initial cause of the universe had zero intelligence, how did it manage to boost
itself up to the level of human intelligence?

We are not interested in “just so” stories, but in facts. Who has ever observed the generation of intelligence from zero intelligence? What empirical evidence validates the rationality of the belief that an initial cause can yield anything superior to itself?
So many unfounded assumptions, so little time. The author has not proven that living creatures are "designed", so he begs the question right off the bat. He once again tries to beat up a straw man with his nonsensical (and undefined) "zero intelligence." And since I don't have a clue what "zero intelligence" is to even evaluate the question of how it can generate anything "superior" to itself, even assuming I knew what the author thinks is "superior" in the first place.

The next few paragraphs are more gobbledygook in which the author seems not to understand what a "cause" is and misunderstands causality, talking about how a "cause can't create an effect greater than itself," whatever that means. I can't even parse the craziness there, so I won't try.

Because the belief that zero intelligence caused the formation of the
universe is patently irrational, we have no choice but to posit that the initial
cause of the universe can be no lesser in qualities than what we find in the
universe. Thus this logical inference from a highly complex effect to an initial
cause no lesser in qualities than the effect itself points in the direction of
an intelligent agent that we may call the parent seed, universal common
ancestor, designer, or cosmic genotype of the phenotype universe.

Ah, the old "unmoved mover" argument. Theists just keep recycling these old, tired arguments over and over, dressing them up in new clothes as if they haven't already been refuted. Once again, even were it true that the "initial cause of the universe can be no lesser in qualities than what we find in the universe," then positing a "parent seed" does us no good whatsoever other than pushing the question back a step, because then we need an "initial cause" of that "seed" (God) that is "no lesser in qualities" than God. That is to say, we need a bigger God. Then, for that God, we need a bigger God. And so forth. "It's turtles all the way down." And, if you argue that God is not contingent and does not need a cause, well then, why don't we just posit that the universe is not contingent and does not need a cause. Especially since causality, being a property of things within the universe is not necessarily a quality of the universe.

Third, critics of Intelligent Design eagerly promote the fabrication that
the theory completely lacks predictive power. Of course, nothing can be further
from the truth. Because we know that human intelligence in Christ’s person is
the seed, creator or designer of the universe, we are in the position to predict
with unparalleled confidence that Christ is the universal common ancestor of all
things created. Also we predict that universal common descent has its source in
Jesus Christ.

Overwhelming evidence for the relation of all creatures to Christ by
universal common descent has been provided by paleontology, comparative anatomy, biogeography, embryology, biochemistry, molecular genetics, and other scientific disciplines. Whereas evolutionists stick to Darwin’s invention
tenaciously--namely to the supernatural entity misleadingly named “natural
selection”--, we predict that universal common descent’s mechanism is
epigenesis. Thus the process of development from Christ’s genotype to the mature
universe for the production of progeny in Christ’s image is epigenetic.

Now, wait a minute here. First off, where is all this "overwhelming evidence" that all creatures are related to Christ? Do we have a DNA sample from Christ that we've compared to all the creatures in the world? Wow! I'm surprised I missed that. I woulda thought it would be big news. Also, if common descent actually proves ID, then why all the fuss to disprove it? And how, exactly, is evolution wrong if common descent is true?

So, the author's supposedly falsifiable prediction is that all creatures are descended from Jesus, who is God. That is to say, that all creatures are "made in God's image." That's not a prediction of ID, that is the primary claim of ID! So, ID "predicts" that its primary claim is true, thus making a "falsifiable prediction," eh? That if we could somehow test the DNA of a supernatural being we could prove that all life comes from that being? Uh... yeah. Of course. It's a tautology. He's saying that if we had evidence of God we'd have evidence of ID, but since ID is simply saying, "God did it," and since he claims one's DNA is also one's "intelligence," he's nothing more than that that if we had evidence that God designed life then ID would be true, which is saying that if God designed life then God designed life. If x then x isn't much of an argument and certainly isn't a falsifiable prediction.

All of these predictions are falsifiable, provided ID critics can demonstrate that instead of Christ the universal common ancestor is a minimal life form, and ultimately zero intelligence; that universal common descent is not a fact; or that epigenesis is not a viable mechanism for development from the seed of the universe.

Wow. He's getting more wacky by the sentence. No, my friend, in order for us to even discuss this whole line of argument you would have to have some evidence that Christ is, in fact the universal common ancestor of all life. You can't just assert it, which is all he has done. And, once again, it is the one making the claim who has the burden of proof, so I'll sit around and wait until the author presents his evidence that "universal common descent [is] a fact." I suspect I'll be waiting a long time. Same goes with the "epigenesis" thing. It's not incumbent upon scientists to prove that your gobbledygook is untrue, sir.

Based on the knowledge that Christ created the universe to have children in
his own image we also predict with great confidence that the cosmic system
yields end-product or output in the form of human beings. This prediction is
falsifiable, provided ID critics can present a being that exists beyond and
above human beings. If they have such a superhuman being in their closet, we'd
like to have it presented for our examination.

Wha-? When, exactly, did the author prove that human beings are the "end-product" or "output" of the universe? What does that even mean? And how would producing a "superhuman being" disprove this, exactly?

ID critics may raise the objection that man is not the cosmic system’s
input and output, or pinnacle of all life forms in the universe. Indeed, whether
it is true or not, we can’t be absolutely certain. Precisely for this reason the
theory of creation by Christ is tentative, just as scientific theories are
supposed to be.

No, no, no! A scientific theory itself is tentative because new evidence could always be presented which falsifies or changes the theory. But the evidence isn't. Here, the author is saying that one of the evidentiary pillars of his theory is, even in theory, untestable and unknowable. If the evidence on which your theory is based can't be falsified, neither can the theory itself. That's not being "tentative," that's not being falsifiable. The author has led us in a circle and now admitted what he was claiming to be refuting. Brilliant.

Because we are the cosmic system’s output, we predict that exclusively
beings have the potential to provide information feedback to the cosmic
system’s initial input for the purpose of self-regulation. Communication
with the universe’s parent seed is not only possible, but such exchange of
information is taking place constantly in the form of prayer. In other words
from the systems point of view prayer qualifies as information feedback,
where the cosmic system’s human output feeds information back to the cosmic
system’s initial input, which feedback to our cosmic parent ensures homeostasis.

The prediction that exclusively human beings pray to the Creator of the
universe can be falsified by the demonstration that creatures above or below the level of our intelligence pray to the Creator as well.

More craziness, gobbledygook, and unproven assertions. I can't even begin to follow this tortured logic, but as far as I can tell, he's begging the question: "The universe was designed by the Creator if only humans pray to the Creator" doesn't seem to really seem to address anything. The fact that humans pray to the Creator doesn't prove whether the Creator exists any more than people praying to Zeus or Allah proves that they exist. I don't follow this at all.

If a man is the genotype of the phenotype universe, then the parameters or
determining characteristics of the universe are exquisitely fine-tuned for our
production, just as the parameters of an apple tree are exquisitely fine-tuned
for the production of apples.
Indeed, in astrophysics we find that the universe is remarkably biofriendly and is fine-tuned for our production. ID critics, however, are invited to falsify this prediction by demonstrating that the universe is fine-tuned for the production of intelligence that is above and beyond human intelligence.

This seems to be a very tortured version of the argument that the physical laws and constants of the universe had to be exactly what they are in order for life to exist, so the universe must have been tuned for human life, and that can't be an accident. This argument fails in many ways, but the one I happen to like the best is that this argument assumes that there were other choices. That the universe could have formed in other ways. But it is entirely possible that there aren't any other choices, that the universe, due to natural processes, could only form with the laws and constants it actually has, and therefore it is not unlikely for the universe to be "biofriendly," but, in fact inevitable.

Also, I fail to see how one even could prove that the universe is fine-tuned for production of life "above and beyond human intelligence." I seriously doubt that if we discovered alien life that the author would take this as proof that God didn't exist. Besides, I don't see how this disproof follows from what he's said in any case.

As hopefully I made it clear, the charge by ID critics that the designer
remained unidentified is bogus. The designer of the universe is Jesus Christ, he
revealed himself as our creator, and he’s coming back to deal with his enemies,
who are the enemies of humanity as well.

Oh, the "designer" is Jesus! Great. Someone better inform the Discovery Institute, because they still seem to be unaware of this revelation.

The evolutionist paradigm is in process of decay, and is being replaced with the
paradigm of cosmic ontogeny or epigenesis.

Translation: We may be down 56-0 with three seconds on the clock, but they're about to crumble! We're winning, trust me!

Wow. Amazing that someone could actually type all that without having an aneurysm or something at the illogic being employed. I would have thought the author's brain would have one of those Star Trek "does not compute! Must destroy self!" moments somewhere during the creation of this illogical screed. Apparently not.

This is where one irrational belief leads. One spawns another, and that another, and pretty soon you're talking about "Jesus seeds" and that humans designed themselves.



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