Boxing Pythagoras

Philosophy from the mind of a fighter

Archive for the tag “Intelligent Design”

WLC dodges his own question

Recently, I have taken to addressing William Lane Craig’s Excursus on Natural Theology podcasts. These are lessons directed at the layperson with the goal of demonstrating the rationality of theism from simple arguments. As you may infer from my previous articles, I do not think that the Excursus has come even close to meeting that goal.

Today, we will be discussing Part 17 of the Excursus. If you read my article on Part 16, you might remember that I was actually quite excited for this, due to Dr. Craig’s promise to discuss the plausibility of Design as an explanation of the universe’s fine-tuning. As I mentioned, whenever I have discussed the idea of Intelligent Design with an apologist, I have brought up this very subject. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever been met with answers about the purported improbability of chance or necessity. I’ve never been proffered any answers with positive evidence for the idea of Design, nor even with a proposed mechanism by which the Fine-Tuning of the universe could be Designed.

Early on in the discussion, Dr. Craig makes a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree:

But we cannot infer immediately to design because sometimes it can be justified to believe in an improbable explanation. You would be justified in believing in some improbable explanation just in case there were no better explanation available of the phenomenon in question…

The question we are facing now with regard to the fine-tuning of the universe is: is design a better explanation than chance or physical necessity?

Yes, this most certainly is the question! So, how does Dr. Craig answer this question? Does he define what, exactly, he means by the term “design?” Does he offer some method for differentiating something which is “designed” from something which is not “designed?” Does he then apply this standard to the question of Fine-Tuning in order to show that the constants and quantities of the universe more keenly fit into the “designed” category than the “not designed” category?

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Does Science Disprove God?

Christian apologist Melissa Cain Travis has posted her thoughts on an article written by Dr. Amir Aczel entitled, “Why Science Does Not Disprove God,” a complement to his book of the same name. While Ms. Travis agrees with the thrust of the article, she finds some of its language to be a bit vague, and adds some commentary which she believes clarifies these issues. It is likely unsurprising that Travis, a Christian apologist, would agree with Aczel’s premise.

What may be more surprising to my readers is that I also agree: Science does not disprove God.

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Hierarchies of Absurdity

I read an article, today, by Brian Doyle at The American Scholar which describes how his view of the peculiarities of Mormonism led him to reflect on those tenets of his own belief that others might find crazy. I had a very similar experience. One summer, some years back, I was having a discussion with a friend about the ridiculous assertions made in Scientology. At the time, I was still a Christian– and a Young Earth Creationist, at that. While I was opining about the absurdity of Xenu killing the citizens of his galactic empire using hydrogen bombs and volcanoes, one of my friends asked me, “Is it really that much weirder than claiming that Yahweh drowned the whole planet, then repopulated it by the inhabitants of a single boat?”

I was taken aback, for a moment. I realized, then, that the strange and miraculous stories embedded in my own faith sounded just as ludicrous to an unbeliever as Scientology had sounded to me. I fumbled together a reply, saying the authors of the Biblical text were more reliable than a crooked science fiction writer, but my friend once again befuddled me with his response: “Why?”

It was my search for the answer to that question which led me to lose my faith in Christianity.

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Heathen Apologetics, Part 2: The Argument from Design

Today’s post marks the second installment of my Heathen Apologetics series. For those of you who may have missed the first entry in this series, I recommend checking out my initial post on the matter to get a better understanding of my motivations and purpose in writing these– also, so you can see the Heathen version of Pascal’s Wager. Today, however, I’ll tackle another popular argument for God’s existence. This argument is known in scholarly circles as the teleological argument. But despite the complex name, it’s so commonly argued that you’ve probably heard such an argument, before, without realizing what it was called.

The universe contains patterns, complexity, and order which must have been intentionally designed by the gods.

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Is Intelligent Design faith-based? A response to Melissa Cain Travis

Many people are aware of the debate which has been ongoing between naturalists and theologians since Darwin first published on his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Unfortunately, however, since it’s always the squeaky wheel which gets the grease, most people only ever hear about this subject in terms of science-denying Young Earth Creationists standing opposed to godless heathen anti-theist scientists. The truth is that there exists quite a spectrum of middle ground, on the subject. There are theists who keep strict separation of their scientific peanut butter from their theological chocolate, and there are atheists who believe that there does exist some metaphysical design to the universe. One such middle premise which has been gaining immense public popularity, in the last few decades, is the Intelligent Design movement. Proponents of Intelligent Design say that it is an open and objective scientific study based on the hypothesis that at least some of the complexity of the cosmos is better explained by the intercession of an intelligent entity than by blind, natural processes. Opponents say that it is just faith-based Creationism cloaked in a pseudoscientific cowl.

In her blog– Science, Reason, & Faith— a Christian apologist named Melissa Cain Travis responds to some critics of ID. According to Ms. Travis, these sources (which apparently include the Huffington Post) jumped on the fact that an Intelligent Design presentation was hosted by a church in order to claim that ID is therefore religiously motivated. Ms. Travis rightly corrects some non sequitur argumentation which she has perceived in these sources. However, I will contend that even with such correction, Melissa Cain Travis is wrong to claim that Intelligent Design is not a faith-based movement.

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