Monday, February 21, 2011


Stating It Plain

As if we didn't know already, Denise Sewell, in a letter to the editor in the Vallejo (California) Times Herald published February 21, 2011, says it loud and clear:

There are only two schools of thought regarding the beginnings of life. Either non-living chemicals organized themselves out of some primordial soup into self producing organisms -- i.e. evolution -- or life is the result of creation by Intelligent Design, i.e. God. So really, it is evolution vs. Genesis.

Now, if only the flacks at the Discoveryless Institute could be so honest ...

It need not have been a soup as such but, yes, either the primordial properties of matter incorporated those that enable life to form spontaneously or it was created by some publicity-shy intelligent agent.

However, unless life has always existed then a Creator must have conjured it out of a non-living something or even a non-living nothing.

The problem for cdesign proponentsists is that creating something out of nothing offends against The Principles of Right Reason(TM)so stoutly upheld by the design stalwarts at UD and no rational designer could possibly do that.

On the other hand, proposing a designer who created living out of non-living matter doesn't exactly answer the question of how which is being demanded of abiogenesists.

Further, if the designer is not God but just some highly-advanced alien then we can assume it can only work with what is there, just re-arranging it to form life. It can't create some fundamental new property of the universe to add to the mix.

The problem with that is that it raises a tricky question, to whit, if life is just an arrangement of existing material and if it can be so arranged by an intelligent agent then what is to prevent the same arrangement forming spontaneously given sufficient time?

The IDiots at UD could be right about one thing, though, it could all come down to a question of "functional information associated with specified, complex organisms". In other words, the whole thing is a FIASCO.
Well, it's also lousy theology. If you think about it, an infinite god would have no need of physically meddling at specific points in the process since he/she would already know how the process advances.
To have to do otherwise would mean that the god wasn't capable of creating a universe or foresee how the process advances which would mean he/she is finite and thus the whole premise falls apart.
I guess I have some trouble accepting such a dichotomy. Evolution is a specific theory based on what we see, while a variety of other possibilities exist if we're not being constrained by the data.

I mean I think I know what you're saying, that for them it is that dichotomy. Genesis (perhaps John) or evolution. She even manages to confuse abiogenesis and evolution, writing, Either non-living chemicals organized themselves out of some primordial soup into self producing organisms -- i.e. evolution. That's at least mostly abiogenesis that she's describing there, although there's some ambiguity in the line between non-evolutionary abiogenesis and "evolutionary abiogenesis."

What bothers me is not that the claim that the IDiots see it as either Yahweh or chance, of course, since that's about all that ID even is. What's bothersome is that the possible implication is that we might accept it, from what was written.

Miracles involving creation often don't involve any sort of design at all, although one could say that neither do any ID explanations ("design" and "intelligence" themselves are the supposed explanations). Reproductive means are often the mythic cause, and, indeed, they seem closer to any meaningful explanation for reproducing life than any Frankensteinian Design claims.

Then we have forms for Plato and Aristotle, and Buffon adapted these to "explain" life on earth. Paley attacked that claim for being meaningless, but it's no more nor less so than ID is today. Paley's claims were more meaningful, and thus failed.

So sure, the sacred texts are what matter to the IDiots, if not necessarily Genesis so much. I just can't leave the rest unsaid, which is that by no means is it reasonable to suppose that it's either Yahweh Designing life, or evolution (evolution/abiogenesis if you wish). That's only one meaningless and unsupported myth, almost certainly not the first or even best at providing a superficial explanatory account.

Glen Davidson
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