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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Design arguments: Does bad design mean no design?

In Of Designers and Dunces, Roddy Bullock entertaininglyly addresses the claim made by Professor Donald Wise of the University of Massachusetts that defects in the human body show that there is no design in nature.
Unwise person: I’ll admit it's art, but it's bad art.

Wise person: But you will agree that it is the work of an artist. Yes?
Unwise person: No.

A "bad design" claim, if sustainable, might come better from a medical doctor than a geologist, but medical doctors do not appear to be among materialism/Darwinism's fans.
My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

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Textbook Watch: Marx, Freud and Darwin as the "textbook triad" of materialism

Discovery Institute notes the following from Douglas Futuyma's Evolutionary Biology (1998, 3rd Ed., Sinauer Associates), p. 5:
Darwin showed that material causes are a sufficient explanation not only for physical phenomena, as Descartes and Newton had shown, but also for biological phenomena with all their seeming evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous. Together with Marx's materialistic theory of history and society and Freud's attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin's theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism…

This is especially interesting in view of the sometimes-heard claim that ID advocates invented the Marx-Freud-Darwin triad of materialist influences. That was unlikely in principle because, in order to communicate with a broad audience, the ID advocates had to riff off an already accepted cultural pattern. But this instance of the usage by a prominent pro-Darwin and anti-ID source demonstrates that the claim is incorrect. Which doesn't mean you won't hear it again and again - and again. I would be interested to know if this paragraph appears unaltered in the just-released 2006 edition, but Toronto Public Library seems to have nothing later than the 2nd edition.
My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

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Theology corner: Does God need a cause?

TotheSource ("Challenging Hardcore Secularism with Principled Pluralism") offers an interesting item on God as the "First Cause," taking issue with the claim of some atheists (principally Dawkins and Harris) that God must be an infinite regress of causes. (As in "What caused God?", for example, and then "What caused the thing that caused God?", and then "What caused the thing that caused the thing that caused God?".) Of course, even in this world, we encounter causes that cannot be regressed. For example, the facts of arithmetic are final causes as far as math is concerned. There is nothing to look behind for a further cause, though you can in fact surmise an infinite wisdom that creates these facts and holds all things in being. Eugene Wigner has written on the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics,
the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it.
I think that by "rational" explanation, he means an explanation that appeals to other causes (chaos, a further regress, et cetera). Such si the temper of our times that laws that actually work are not considered a rational explanation.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy att he University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being granted tenure at Baylor after a long struggle - even after helping in a small way to destroy the Baylor Bears' ancient glory - in the opinion of a hyper sportswriter.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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