Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Holt On Intelligent Design

Another contribution to the Intelligent Design argument(s) that seem to have popped up everywhere lately ... This time published in The New York Times Magazine.


Samuel Douglas said...

Intelligent design, pah!. It takes a very different view of the world to get up and push that agenda. As for not mentioning the 'G -word', that does leave the question of who the creator might be open to debate. But anyone with half a brain and any ability to empathise with those who suffer would have trouble attributing omnipotence, omniscience, and (omni)benevolence to such a creator.

Bill Pascoe said...

An intelligent creator is not necessarily benevolent. The God of the old testament seems quite jealous and vengeful. Many other gods are also. Often they are quite 'human' in their emotions, they get jealous, angry, happy, are partial and impartial, they reward and punish and get cranky when you disrespect them. A principle of the bible is that man has free will, whether given by God, or stolen by eating from the tree of knowledge. In this sense all the suffering can be blamed on people rather than God. I like to think of the God of the bible feeling a bit lonely, and realising he couldn't be loved except by something independant of him/herself created us - free to ignore, insult, love or even kill him/her.
I like these arguments against intelligent design:
1. The more events that occur the more probable it becomes that some unlikely coincidence will occur. (The probability of throwing 8 heads in a row if you throw a coin 8 times is low. But if you throw it a thousand times, it's quite likely you'll get 8 heads in a row.) Considering the amount of 'events' in the Universe, that something as improbable as the Universe as it is and that we come to be in it, becomes quite probable.
2. If it is extremely improbable that we could occur without intelligent design, it is acknowledged that it is possible. Point 1 shows why we can think that it is probable that somewhere sometime in the Universe something as improbable as ourselves will occur. If some highly improbable being such as ourselves comes about, and is clever enough to see how improbable it's own existence is, it will most likely be shocked that it exists at all, and attribute it's being to some purpose, such as the intention of a god.

Having said all that, I don't think this is a debate worth wasting too much time on. As someone with a fondness for semiotics, to me it's all stories - which is not to say 'fiction' since that would presuppose the possibility of 'truth', and suggest that science and/or religion are mere lies, whereas they are both remarkably effective in our interaction with the world. Just stories, but not just stories, since stories can be very powerful indeed.

Anonymous said...

What's the improbability factor of God then? :)