Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Madness of the Evolutionary Designer

blake06.jpg

Richard Dawkins’ insightful book The Blind Watchmaker aside, believers in an Intelligent Designer of the Universe, and mankind (God apparently) have to concede that creation has been not only murky but also a bit psychotic.

The process of creation begins with the Big Bang (estimated to have taken place 13.7 billion years ago) and really gets underway for the eventual residents of Earth when the Earth is formed (about 4.57 billion years ago).

With the origin of bacteria and archaea 3.8 billion years ago, life on Earth began.

The “evolution” of life -- various plants, insects, mammals, and dinosaurs – took various paths that Darwin’s Origin of Species recounts, and the hominid ancestors of man appeared (Sahelanthropus tchadensis: Toumai), 7 million years ago.

toumai.jpg

Now the question to ask is what were all the permutations about? What Designer, intelligent or otherwise, would hem-haw around so diligently, seemingly experimenting with life-forms, before coming up with the species (man) that is supposedly the Designer’s masterwork?

But let’s go back a bit….

Dawkins and his ilk give enhanced purposefulness (Chance by any other name) the accolades for the Big Bang and subsequently the evolution of life on Earth, culminating in man.

dawkins1.jpg

The theory that Darwin proposed and his supporters tout is fascinating but contrived. Yes, the process of evolution is scientifically sound, but putting all of the processes in place, from the Big Bang through the dynamics of the geologic ages, to man, is really a stretch. Too many things had to adapt to too many natural vicissitudes to make sense.

That’s why Creationists and fellow travelers (proponents of Intelligent Design) still get text-book space in some quarters.

However, believers in an Intelligent Designer have to admit (or should) that the folly of their Designer is palpable, if one examines the evidence, and we’re not taking about the fossil evidence.

What, for example, was the purpose of the dinosaur eras, and the eventual extinction if the Designer had some ultimate plan in mind?

Either the Designer is operating with a plan that was and remains an enigma to rational beings, or the essence of the Designer is madness. (Yes, we mean essence, in the Thomistic sense.)

Dawkins’ proposal [The God Delusion] that the God of faith was (and is) a psychopath goes to the heart of the matter.

crazygod.jpg

Either we have Darwin’s quasi-rational explanation for life (evolution) or we have an Instigator (God or the Intelligent Designer) that has created in fits and starts, indicating that the Mind of the Instigator is overly convoluted or seriously flawed.

How can reasonable people come together, philosophically, when their choices or belief systems are contrary in ways that seem insurmountable?

The Intelligent Designer is quirky, maybe even insane, while Darwin and his supporters maintain evolution is the only way that life can be explained.

The clue may reside in a the mystery of DNA, which forms life on its own, and was put in place by a prime mover, one with consciousness, or one without.

man.jpg

But that for another time….

12 comments:

Ennoia said...

Yes, the process of evolution is scientifically sound, but putting all of the processes in place, from the Big Bang through the dynamics of the geologic ages, to man, is really a stretch. Too many things had to adapt to too many natural vicissitudes to make sense.


I disagree. We do not know how many times the big bang happened. And given the size of the multiverse and the enormous amount of time, it would be quite odd if life did NOT develop.

You are also arguing after the fact. If you had been around prior to life, then you'd have a better argument.

RRRGroup said...

Ennoia:

Care to elaborate?

It's odd that life did develop, considering the (physical) odds against it.

That's why creationists and believers in Intelligent Design still hold sway in some rational quarters.

Ennoia said...

Let's reduce the scale a little... If you had, say, only three atoms, and an infinite number of 'crunches' followed by an infinite number of 'bangs', you would expect every possible combination of those three atoms to exist -- and, according to Nietzsche, we can expect them to exist, in those exact same combinations, again and again. According to Nietzsche, we will all do this again and again...

Dawkins is simply ahead of his time. He's dealing with a western world that is currently awaiting a 'rapture' event. They're not ready to listen to his very sensible philosophical explanations.

Creationists exist in 'rational quarters' simply because of the lure of religion. As Dawkins points out, intelligent design is not an answer. It not only answers 'how' with 'who', but it begs the question further. Who created the creator?

RRRGroup said...

Ennoia:

A "creator" needn't be created, since the possibility is that the creator is existence, pure and simple, as even Augustine noted.

This avoids First Cause, and is just as acceptable as an eternal but still mysteriously enduring Universe that has always been.

Ennoia said...

A "creator" needn't be created, since the possibility is that the creator is existence, pure and simple, as even Augustine noted.

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

RRRGroup said...

From Wikipedia (and Aquinas, to whom we defer in all things):

Nature of God

Aquinas felt that the existence of God is neither self-evident nor beyond proof. In the Summa Theologica, he considered in great detail five rational proofs for the existence of God. These are widely known as the quinquae viae, or the "Five Ways."

Concerning the nature of God, Aquinas felt the best approach, commonly called the via negativa, is to consider what God is not.

This led him to propose five positive statements about the divine qualities:

God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and form.

God is perfect, lacking nothing. That is, God is distinguished from other beings on account of God's complete actuality.

God is infinite. That is, God is not finite in the ways that created beings are physically, intellectually, and emotionally limited. This infinity is to be distinguished from infinity of size and infinity of number.

God is immutable, incapable of change on the levels of God's essence and character.

God is one, without diversification within God's self.

The unity of God is such that
God's essence is the same as God's existence. In Aquinas's words, "in itself the proposition 'God exists' is necessarily true, for in it subject and predicate are the same."

In this approach, he is following, among others, the Jewish philosopher Maimonides.[19]

Ennoia said...

You're only begging the question with Aquinas. Aquinas is making a theological argument, not a philosophical argument. Once you believe that "God" exists, you can then proceed to make all sorts of wonderful pronouncements about him/it/her...all which are completely meaningless if God doesn't actually exist.

As I know you're familiar with Occam's Razor, I won't belabor the point other than to say that permutations and combinations are far simpler than some undetectable imaginary creature/being.

RRRGroup said...

Ennoia:

A couple of things...

For Aquinas, and the other scholastics, philosophy and theology were one and the same.

Also, whether or not God exists is the crux of the discussion here, and elsewhere.

One can posit that God does not exist (and never has) -- as we note farther down in this blog, or God is dead (a real possibility), or that God is ineffable, or God is aloof (until tweaked by consciousness, as Melville indicates in Moby Dick), and so on.

But, for the sake of argument, we post the premise that God exists, and sometimes we post that He/It does not exist, not in any practical sense.

So you can take whatever tack you prefer, even the Gnostic one, which we'd like very much to go into more here.

As for Ockham, we accept his pithy approach to ratiocination, and use it as often as we can.

Ennoia said...

For Aquinas, and the other scholastics, philosophy and theology were one and the same.

"Into the High Middle Ages, Augustine's views were widely defended. It was during this time however that St. Thomas Aquinas described another model for the relationship between philosophy and theology. According to the Thomistic model, philosophy and theology are distinct enterprises. The primary difference between the two is their intellectual starting points. Philosophy takes as its data the deliverances of our natural mental faculties: what we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. These data can be accepted on the basis of the reliability of our natural faculties with respect to the natural world. Theology, on the other hand takes as its starting point the divine revelations contained in the Bible. These data can be accepted on the basis of divine authority, in a way analogous to the way in which we accept, for example, the claims made by a physics professor about the basic facts of physics."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/christiantheology-philosophy/

Seems you need to freshen up...

RRRGroup said...

Thomism represents the the philosophia perennis of the West.

-- From The Encyclopedia of Philosophy [MacMillan, NY], Volume 8, Page 119.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of medieval philosophers....

-- From The Age of Belief by Anne Fremantle [Mentor Books, NY, 1954, Page 148.

The most important result of St. Thomas' attitude toward philosophy and its history is what may be called the historically social character of his own philosophical work.

-- From Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas, Edited by Antom C. Pegis [Modern Library, 1945-48, Intro xiv]

The scholastics dealt with metaphysics, a branch of philosophy.

We get the impression,Ennoia, that you're either looking to argue for argument's sake or hope to score points in some imagined battle of the braniacs.

We hope you're not that shallow.

Ennoia said...

We get the impression,Ennoia, that you're either looking to argue for argument's sake or hope to score points in some imagined battle of the braniacs.

We hope you're not that shallow.


You made a factually incorrect statement. And while Philosophers do deal in metaphysics, you obviously missed the point that Aquinas made about revelation.

You could argue that Aquinas created a false dichotomy between the two, but you cannot argue that Aquinas saw Theology and Philosophy as 'one in the same'. He did not.

And I never suggested that Aquinas wasn't both a Philosopher and a Theologian. He was obviously both -- by his own standards, and by today's standards.

RRRGroup said...

Thanks, Ennoia, for the clarification.

But whatever Aquinas thought, from your citation, it has been corrected by time and the Thomistic legacy.

Aquinas was a philosopher par excellence, with a theological overcoat (because of his vows as a priest and the times in which he trained and lived).

Everything is context...