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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Darwinism and academic culture: Mathematician Jeffrey Shallit weighs in

You can tell that Darwinism is failing when it attracts completely ridiculous attacks like
this one, on Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009). The gist of Shallit's complaint is that Nagel thought Meyer's book a prize.* But Shallit says,
Meyer claims, over and over again, that information can only come from a mind -- and that claim is an absolutely essential part of his argument. Nagel, the brilliant philosopher, should see why that is false. Consider making a weather forecast. Meteorologists gather information about the environment to do so: wind speed, direction, temperature, cloud cover, etc. It is only on the basis of this information that they can make predictions. What mind does this information come from?
What mind indeed? If we experience either snow or dull, freezing rain here tomorrow, why should I be surprised? This is the season officially known as winter.

So, maybe Nagel, the brilliant philosopher, knows more than Shallit, the University of Waterloo prof.

I thought Thomas Nagel's discussion of animal mind, in "What is it like to be a bat?" was the best of its type, in elucidating the difficulties of a materialist explanation of mind. I would commend it to all.

For example, the information that explains how the butterfly emerges from the mess of the pupa, after the caterpillar has done its bit by constantly eating leaves, is vastly more complex than the information that explains why rain falls or snow blankets. We seek an explanation for metamorphosis, not for why rain or snow falls.

Here is an example:



So how is the trick done inside the "magic box" of the pupa? As one biologist told me, "The entire caterpillar dissolves, and is reconstructed as a butterfly." The stored energy from the caterpillar's voracious eating habits creates that? ... ridiculous. Let's hear more explanations, and subject them to tests, based on the life of the universe.

*Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009) was indeed literally a prize at Uncommon Descent recently. I hope for more copies soon, for more contests and more prizes.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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