Re: Intelligent Design ?

From: janice matchett <>
Date: Fri Aug 19 2005 - 14:13:09 EDT

At 02:46 PM 8/18/2005, Pim van Meurs wrote:

>What does this posting have to do with either Intelligent Design or
>ASA? .... Intelligent design can in fact be explained by a designer of
>fully natural origin: Mutation...

### So, tell me --- how can you expect me, or anyone else to take you
seriously, or trust in the validity of your thinking processes, if you
"believe" (have faith) that it is a result of "mutation by a designer of
fully natural origin" ? To wit:

".........Finally, it seems to me that there is one respect Daniel
Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea is vastly more dangerous than Dennett
realizes. According to Richard Rorty,

the idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented
not just toward its own increated prosperity but toward Truth, is as
un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral
compass--a conscience that swings free of both social history and
individual luck." [ 12 ] "

Rorty's pronouncements ____do not always inspire maximum
confidence____, [a huge understatement] but here he seems to be on to
something (although like Dennett he fails to see the real danger here).

He says that two ideas are unDarwinian: that we have a mind oriented
towards the Truth and a conscience that puts us in touch with right and wrong.

Now Dennett does try to deal with the second from the Darwinian perspective
(although what he really tries to explain is not how there could actually
be such a thing as right and wrong, good and bad, from that perspective,
but how it is that we think there is such a thing.)

But the other part of Rorty's suggestion is where the real intellectual
danger in Darwin's dangerous idea lies (at any rate if Rorty's "Truth" is
just ordinary everyday truth). Why so? Here I can only hint at the
argument. [ 13 ]

Darwin's dangerous idea is really two ideas put together: philosophical
naturalism together with the claim that our cognitive faculties have
originated by way of natural selection working on some form of genetic

According to this idea, then, the purpose or function of those faculties
(if they have one) is to enable or promote survival, or survival and
reproduction, more exactly, the maximization of fitness (the probability of
survival and reproduction).

Furthermore, the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable
(i.e., furnish us with a preponderance of true beliefs) on Darwin's
dangerous idea is either low or inscrutable (i.e., impossible to estimate).

But either gives the devotee of evolutionary naturalism a defeater for the
proposition that his cognitive faculties are reliable, a reason for
doubting, giving up, rejecting that natural belief. If so, then it also
gives him a reason for doubting any beliefs produced by those faculties.
This includes, of course, the beliefs involved in science itself.

Evolutionary naturalism, therefore, provides one who accepts it with a
defeater for scientific beliefs, a reason for doubting that science does in
fact get us to the truth, or close to the truth. [ 14 ]

Darwin himself may perhaps have glimpsed this sinister presence coiled like
a worm in the very heart of evolutionary naturalism:

"With me," says Darwin, "the horrid doubt always arises whether the
convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the
lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust
in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such
a mind? [ 15 ]

Modern science was conceived, and born, and flourished in the matrix of
Christian theism. Only liberal doses of self-deception and double-think, I
believe, will permit it to flourish in the context of Darwinian naturalism.

~ Alvin Plantinga Excerpted from this

"... science is anything but religiously neutral .... In this article I
begin by pointing to three examples of the religious non-neutrality of
scientific claims or hypotheses. .... so irrational that it needs to be
explained in terms of such mechanisms as ...
The Grand Evolutionary Myth -- Since I have dealt with this example
elsewhere (in the essays referred to in footnote 3) I can be brief here.
Consider the Grand Evolutionary Myth (GEM).

According to t___his story___, organic life somehow arose from non-living
matter by way of purely natural means and by virtue of the workings of the
fundamental regularities of physics and chemistry.

Once life began, all the vast profusion of contemporary flora and fauna
arose from those early ancestors by way of common descent. The enormous
contemporary variety of life arose, basically, through natural selection
operating on such sources of genetic variability as random genetic
mutation, genetic drift and the like.

I call this story a myth not because I do not believe it (although I do not
believe it) but because it plays a certain kind of quasi-religious role in
contemporary culture.

It is a shared way of understanding ourselves ____at the deep level of
religion____, a deep ____interpretation of ourselves to ourselves____, a
way of telling us why we are here, where we come from, and where we are going.

Now it is certainly possible--epistemically
anyway--that GEM is true; it certainly seems that God could have done
things in this way. Certain parts of this story, however, are, to say the
least, epistemically shaky. For example, we hardly have so much as decent
hints as to how life could have arisen from inorganic matter just by way of
the regularities known to physics and
chemistry.<>8 (Darwin
found this question deeply
troubling;<>9 at
present the problem is enormously more difficult than it was in Darwin's
day, now that some of the stunning complexity of even the simplest forms of
life has been
revealed).<>10 No
doubt God could have done things that way if he had chosen to; but at
present it looks as if he didn't choose to. [snip] ~ Alvin
Plantinga, University of Notre Dame.

The full commentary can be found here: Origins & Design - Methodological
Naturalism"It is mere
rubbish, thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think
of the origin of matter." "Letter from Darwin to Hooker", The Life and
Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. 2, ed. Francis Darwin (New York: Appleton,
1967), p. 202.
Pim continues:
>Certainly invoking Rush Limbaugh as an "expert" on science seems quite ironic.

### And I find it humorous that you choose to engage in a non sequitur by
claiming that I was "invoking Rush as an expert on science" when his
commentary was referring to others who are considered by their peers to be
"experts on science".

Of course, like you, he's entitled to his own personal interpretation of
the facts.

Unlike you, his interpretations of the facts are sifted through a mind that
he believes was given to him by a greater mind (God).

Or have I misunderstood your position?

~ Janice
Received on Fri Aug 19 14:13:56 2005

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