Sunday, June 18, 2017

Intelligent Design Is An Entirely Respectable And Rational Belief, It Is Just Not A Properly Scientific Belief

Earlier this month I posted that given the assertion of today's foremost cosmologists that the probability of a life generating, sustaining universe is of a vanishingly improbable order, that anyone who concluded from that the argument for the universe being a product of design by an intelligent agent was well within the realm of rational acceptability.  I didn't claim it was a scientific idea, I said it was within the realm of rational acceptability.

That might be clearer if you expressed it within sets, starting with the universal set of all ideas which people can have, ideas which are:

{rational, irrational, mistaken, feared, wished for, unwelcomed,...}

The subset of rational ideas are certainly not all scientific ideas.   Science cannot produce the idea that John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, that is a rational idea that is based on other than scientific methods.  The subset of rational ideas which are not scientific, the product of scientific method, is far larger than those which are the product of scientific method.  The set of rational ideas include ideas which are:

{based on everyday experience (almost all of it untested scientifically), based on the true testimony of other people, based on the historical record (especially when attested to by multiple, independent sources), based on untested observation (many of which are rationally believed), many of those ideas published as science in the agreed to method (but not all of them),and  the product of legal trials properly conducted based on evidence presented, ...}.

I'm sure that the devotees of scientism will deny the rational character of some of those based on the more or less frequent failure of those methods to produce certain knowledge.

But that "but not all of them" in parentheses concerning the rational nature of ideas within science, taking in the product of undiscovered honest scientific error, wishful thinking on the part of scientists (often leading to padding the evidence), lapses of review (shockingly common in some areas that are called science) and outright fraud prove that any rational AND HONEST consideration of the category of scientific ideas as part of the spectrum of rational thought must admit that it shares the same quality of not being entirely reliable with history, the law, and all other areas which I've included in the set of rational ideas.   I would assert that some areas called science and taken as such are as if not more prone to including mistaken ideas than many other areas of academic research.

Pretending that science has both universal potency in treating all possible knowledge and of infallible or at least of unquestionable reliability is rank superstition in the face of the hard evidence of its lapses, superstition of a kind which some other fields not sharing in those kinds of intellectual pretenses are relatively free of.  I have never heard an historian make the kinds of claims for the potency of historical methods that scientists often claim for science, becoming enraged if there is any skepticism expressed about some of its more outlandish claims.  I think that those outlandish claims, made with such imperious insistence have had something to do with why some of the most vital claims of science, such as the obviously correct science surrounding humanly made global warming, has been vulnerable to the propaganda campaign against it. 

I will interject that pure math comes nearest of all fields of human thought to being purely rational, though it is only pure as an abstract consideration, as a pure exercise of logical thought dealing with numbers and idealized, not physical, geometrical entities.  As soon as it ventures into application in the physical universe, its purity is diluted in a far more complex world where the mathematician lives.  I think it's interesting and illuminating that only in so far as math deals with imaginary entities, numbers, their properties, does it retain its iron clad reliability.

The set of rational ideas include ideas which draw on information from unrelated fields quite often.  Science has used documentation which is properly considered historical to make observations about such things as the occurrence of super novas, eclipses not observed scientifically but recorded by monks and scholars of the ancient and classical period (when those can be reliably dated)  reports of plagues, etc.   And historians often make use of information from science and have gained some ideas about testing information with quasi-scientific methods.  The law certainly makes use of both science and history.  Philosophy makes use of all of it and more.

The conceit that science is a human intellectual activity set apart is a superstition, as well.  The same minds that do science are the same minds that do everything else that humans do with their minds. And there are no bright lines, impenetrable barriers partitioning off science in the minds of scientists, there is no pure land "science" which is unpolluted with other thinking, including, very often, the ideological and emotional loves and hatreds of the person who will then present ideas and claims mixed with those as science, often to be accepted as valid by other scientists so predisposed or who can adopt the bigotries and ideologies of other scientists because they figure they should.  The practice of peer review as an absolute guarantor of the reliability of science is, based on its proven lapses, an irrational superstition.

I have said that today cosmology and neuroscience are saturated with ideological materialist and atheist ideology, biology is saturated with the line of Malthusian-class economics through Darwinism, the social sciences and behavioral sciences are absolutely full to the top with such content called and successfully passed off as science.   The ideas that are asserted under this regime of unconsidered bias can achieve the same status as superstition as those ideas generated by any other ideally rational endeavor that human beings engage in.

Given all of that, people who conclude from the assertions by cosmologists about the improbability of a life generating, life sustaining universe, that it is most likely that the universe is a result of design by God fall well within the realm of honest and rational people.  As long as they are honest that theirs is a rational conclusion from claims of science but the idea, itself is not one science can generate through its methods, there is nothing unrespectable about intelligent design.  If, someday, such an idea can inform science is not our problem, it is not something we, as non-scientists, can honestly have a say in.

Given the bizarre, entirely unscientific ideas that atheists have invented to try to prevent people from coming to that conclusion, jillions of universes, universes that pop into existence with every event in our universe, Boltzmann Brains (for crying out loud, some people actually talk like they believe such things exist), the pseudo-science of abiogenesis, etc.  The absurd claims I've read and heard from atheists to get around problems in their claims about life on Earth being the result of random, chance events.

My favorite example of that is how the unknown but theoretical original organism might have had a containing membrane form for it* - a membrane which allowed the organism to - for unexplained reasons - spontaneously and successfully reproduce itself, successfully resealing the two resultant containing membranes.

I wonder what the chance of such a containing membrane forming to contain that first organism (with all its randomly occurring internal chemistry and metabolism and other supporting structures) but without the possibility of successful reproduction would be.  My guess is that such a theoretical organism forming by random, chance events, EVEN AFTER THE GARGANTUAN IMPROBABILITY OF THE CLAIMS OF FINE TUNING would be a whole other magnitude in improbability on top of that generating the fine-tuning argument for God.

And that's without whatever chemistry, mechanisms and just the right containing structure allowing for successful reproduction, resulting in, first two, then more living organisms being added into the consideration.  I'm not in the business of generating speculations about the improbability of that happening by random, chance, events but I'm guessing the number expressing such a probability would be terrifically huge.  If that is the case, I think the argument that there is other life in the universe as a result of random chance might be seriously weakened.  No matter how sad that would make the fans of Carl Sagan.  I think that finding even one other form of life in one other place in the universe might well be a better argument for the existence of a God who finds life good than for materialist-atheist-scientism.

The idea that that happened, spontaneously, without any design, without any aid of biological activity to channel the stream of the possible and probable, in the first organism is far more irrational than a belief that it could only have happened through design.  I would say that as long as it isn't claimed that such an idea is a scientific one, a belief in intelligent design, informed by that level of consideration, is far more rational than claims that it all happened by random events without any design being involved.  THE ONLY THING THAT KEEPS THAT IDEA AFLOAT IS THE INSISTENCE THAT IT MUST HAVE HAPPENED BY RANDOM EVENTS BECAUSE MATERIALISM DEMANDS THAT BE TRUE. Which, as well, is an entirely non-scientific claim but one which scientists have allowed to not only pollute the pure practice of science, but to rule it.

* One of the most stupendously stupid things I ever heard a credentialed biologist say, a teacher at an accredited university, a man whose scientific and atheist polemical blogging made him an icon of the "rationalist" movement, was said on this topic by P.Z. Myers.

Update:  An example of what I meant when I said,   "I would assert that some areas called science and taken as such are as if not more prone to including mistaken ideas than many other areas of academic research," would, of course, include psychology, the history of which largely consists of invalid ideas based on not much more than authoritative assertions.  Freudianism, behaviorism, various subsets of those and many other schools of psychology have risen, flourished and tumbled into disrepute and desuetude only to be replaced by newer, equally unfounded ideas.  History, for example, often contains mistaken ideas but the field is not so prone to those ideas governing the entire field of history.  I think that eventually natural selection will be seen as the granddaddy of all such governing delusions in science.  


  1. "Science cannot produce the idea that John Kennedy was elected president
    in 1960, that is a rational idea that is based on other than scientific

    Kennedy was Irish, Sparkles, so I can't help but think that your statement above is a desperate cry for help.

    1. I post this only as a demonstration that you are not rationally considered to be included in the set human beings who reason.

      I could use a laugh, explain to me what you meant.

  2. I find it interesting that scientists like Hawking assume all life would develop as human life did, and intelligent life would be as belligerent as we are.

    What if, instead, alien intelligent life was deeply spiritual, even wholly aware of the existence of a deity with as much certainty as was mustered in the medieval period, say? (Just because we need some comparative basis for the discussion, such is the nature of human knowledge.) What if humanity was considered close-minded and ignorant, its intelligence an infections disease, as Tommy Lee Jones said to Will Smith in "Men in Black"? What if we were the outlier in the universe, rather than the measure of all things?

    Funny how science fiction imagined "aliens" as bug-eyed monsters, then as superior supremely rational beings (like the authors of the stories imagined themselves to be), and never as wholly other to us, and perhaps pitying us for our blinkered foolishness in all things.

    It's as likely as any other expectation. But knowing only what we know on this planet, we are sure it must be mirrored, one way or another, across the universe. But why?

    1. If I had a talent for writing fiction, I think I'd write a story about the first contact between our kind and intelligent life from elsewhere (we being, also, their first contact) which they took to be confirmation of the Creator God, based on my assumptions of the incredibly remote possibility of even one form of life arising, nevermind the far more remote possibility of two intelligent life forms able to communicate.

      The difference between atheists like Hawking and Sagan is that I don't pretend what I've concluded about that is science, but they, the scientist-atheists, do. Now, tell me which of us is more in line with a strict application of scientific rigor on that count.

      [Waiting for Simels to blow a gasket, 3. 2. 1.....] Hope he tells Freki and Skeptic Tank I said that.

  3. "explain to me what you meant."

    As the titular character says in the great MAD parody of The Shadow:

    Good lord, this man doesn't have a mind to cloud.

    1. So, instead of saying it, you demonstrate that you've got nuttin'.

      You are an idiot who knows he's an idiot but who is afraid other idiots will realize he's an idiot. Most of the online atheists I've encountered are in that subset of idiots.

  4. As you well understand, I'm not an atheist -- I'm a lapsed agnostic. I used to not know, but now I don't give a shit.

  5. "The conceit that science is a human intellectual activity set
    apart is a superstition, as well. The same minds that do science are
    the same minds that do everything else that humans do with their minds."

    Or in other words:

    "Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
    Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
    Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
    Early morning singing song"

    1. For anyone who, reading Simps' earlier comments wonder if it can get any stupider, with Simps the answer is always, yes. They think he's got a pretty wit over at Duncan Black's brain trust. I did mention the other day he was part of the three atheist stooges that prove that atheists' pretenses of intellectual superiority were just bull shit.

      Simps, explain your first post or no more attention for you, today.

  6. If you're too stupid to get the obvious joke I was making, there's no fucking hope for you.

    Also -- "bullshit" is one word, not two, you fucking hick half-wit.

    1. Explain the "joke" you made. Go on, Simps, prove you made one.

      There is no one more provincial than an ignorant snob from the NYC area.

  7. Says the guy who thought it was hilarious to call me a "monotonous log" after I used the word "monologue."

    You don't know what a fucking joke is.

    1. The only joke you have is the one you hold in your hands several times a day. And it's more a monotonous stick.

      That dodge that you were making a joke is transparently a dodge.

      Duncan's went pretty much from promising start to futile decadence in about the first six years.

  8. A normal person would have stopped trying to one-up me hours ago.

    Just like a normal person, after being made fun of for mispelling Kamala, would have simply corrected the spelling and moved on, rather than posting six paragraphs of a turgid rant about orthography.

    You're not a normal person, Sparkles. You're a crackpot (one word) who couldn't make a successful joke if a gun was put to your empty noggin.

    Seek help.

    1. You really think there's a up to you? How delusional can you get. Simps, you are a mid-brow, TV trained ignoramus whose only claim to erudition is in the borrowed habits gained from the mid-range of the college educated.

      I've been slumming by posting your comments or paying attention to them. It's a minor vice on my part, not a contest of wits.