Re: Is there evidence of design? - Crichton speech

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Mon Nov 14 2005 - 12:57:07 EST


Thanks for the Crichton reference. I'm a Crichton fan of sorts,
although I'm generally suspicious of what I perceive in him to be an
anti-science alarmism. But, this is a very interesting lecture--I
recommend that the whole list go read it and then we discuss it. I
suspect that this might resonate with several of us.

On to your main point...

Actually, the SETI example is a good test case.

With SETI we have artifacts with a created artificer (if ETIs
actually exist). (Just like archeology or other "intelligent design"
dependent disciplines.) You see, ETI's are not gods (despite what
Erich Van Danikan and Richard C. Hoagland say). They are in the same
ontological category as ancient civilizations.

The point that many of us have tried to make over the years is that
God's relationship with His Creation is different (albeit somewhat
analogous) in that He has created, maintains the existence,
supervises the on-going being, properties, and history, etc. of that
which He has made. He is not a Designer in the traditional sense.
The closest we can come to this is a computer programmer who designs
the computer and the computer program. But, even here we fail,
because the designer is "stuck" with matter and energy as it exists
in our universe. Natural processes, "fully" explainable by science,
are just as much His design (and evidence His design in the God-
created human heart) as some molecular mousetrap.

The question is, "Is there any reason to expect God to do things the
way a created artificer would do things?" Many of us answer that
question theologically with a "no". I'm inclined in that direction
myself. However, I'm also willing not to be dogmatic here. Good
scientists explain what they can and leave what they can't explain to
someone else. Given the state of our current knowledge, however, I'm
optimistic about our ability to explain much of what allegedly can't
be explained yet (molecular machines, origin of life, Cambrian
explosion, etc.). Cornelius Hunter, on the other hand, is not. ID
folks, in general, seem ready to make positive assertions about what
we cannot explain. Loren Haarsma's paper (
meetings/Messiah2005/papers/IsIDScientific_ASA2005.htm) at the ASA
meeting last summer explored this difference in inclination.


On Nov 14, 2005, at 9:21 AM, janice matchett wrote:

> At 10:15 AM 11/14/2005, Robert Schneider wrote:
>> "...I think that one needs to start with "design" and try to
>> educate the public about the distinctions between the term as it
>> is used in theology and as it is used in ID argumentation." ~ Bob
> ### As you know, many "real" scientists are highly incensed
> because they think that other "sneaky" scientists at Discovery
> Institute have figured that a good way to teach "creationism to
> kids would be under the guise of calling it "Intelligent Design."
> Here is my suggestion as to how the "distinctions" you cite could
> be taught:
> "Design" is to ID argumentation as "SETI" is to scientific
> argumentation.
> And then go on to explain it to the ignorant this way:
> "...Cast your minds back to 1960. John F. Kennedy is president,
> commercial jet airplanes are just appearing, the biggest university
> mainframes have 12K of memory. And in Green Bank, West Virginia at
> the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young
> astrophysicist named Frank Drake runs a two week project called
> Ozma, to search for extraterrestrial signals. ......"
> "...George Gaylord Simpson of Harvard sneered that SETI was a
> "study without a subject," and it remains so to the present day.
> But scientists in general have been indulgent toward SETI, viewing
> it either with bemused tolerance, or with indifference. After all,
> what's the big deal? It's kind of fun. If people want to look, let
> them. Only a curmudgeon would speak harshly of SETI. It wasn't
> worth the bother.
> And of course it is true that untestable theories may have
> heuristic value. Of course extraterrestrials are a good way to
> teach science to kids. But that does not relieve us of the
> obligation to see the Drake equation clearly for what it is-pure
> speculation in quasi-scientific trappings.
> The fact that the Drake equation was not greeted with screams of
> outrage-similar to the screams of outrage that greet each
> Creationist new claim, for example-meant that now there was a crack
> in the door, a loosening of the definition of what constituted
> legitimate scientific procedure. And soon enough, pernicious
> garbage began to squeeze through the cracks. ..."
> Excerpted from: "Aliens Cause Global Warming" A lecture by Michael
> Crichton California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA January
> 17, 2003
> speeches_quote04.html

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801
Received on Mon Nov 14 12:58:19 2005

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