Irreducible Stupidity

Nice of the Torygraph to give a platform to Stephen C Meyer, one of the leading proponents of the supposed ‘theory’ of intelligent design, as his article nicely illustrates everything that is wrong with this unscientific piece of crap and its supporters.

That life evolves is a matter of fact. More than that it an observable fact as anyone working in the field of virology or bacteriology will happily explain. Viruses mutate and evolve, which is where we get everything from nasty new strains of bird flu to hospital superbugs to rats that are immune to warfarin from.

Evolution by natural selection is a scientific theory inasmuch as it explains how things evolve in response to environmental pressures. Again this can be observed and tested in the real world, and has so far stood up to every test put to it. It’s not difficult to understand; if we take the humble rat and alter its environment by laying poison for them, then they die; and they keep on dying until a minor genetic variation results in a rat that survives the poison through having developed a resistance or immunity to its effects. That rat breeds with other rats, passing on its genetic code and, hey presto, we have a whole bunch of evolved rats who don’t die when we try to poison them.

The same process applied to bacteria and antibiotics and to viruses and anti-viral agents.

Frankly, were I a doctor and there really was such a thing as an intelligent designer, then I’d be wanting to know who they are, where they are and, most inportantly of all, what it would take to get them to piss off and stop fucking designing all the nasty, shitty illnesses that keep making people sick and messing up my nice orderly hospital.

Alternatively, I suppose the drug companies would be paying them to keep right on designing away as this whole new illness things gives them a nice steady stream of profits.

But all that it by the by – there is no intelligent designer, its all a bullshit hoax anyway.

There are many things I could pick on to show why ID is a pile of crap, but the one thing I want to pick up on here is its proponents claims that it is evidence-based.

Scientific methodology is based on a very simple principle – you take a question to which the answer is unknown or incomplete, you examine the evidence, derive a hypothesis from that evidence and then use more evidence, derived from experiment and observation to test that hypothesis – and you keep right on testing against new and more detailed evidence over and over again. If you then fail to find evidence to contradict your hypothesis, your theory stands up – at least until the next test and the next batch of evidence.

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has been tested in this way for more than 100 and has stood up to every test, hence it is treated and taught as science.

ID, on the other hand, commits one of the cardinal sins of scientific enquiry inasmuch as it is selective in its use of evidence – it doesn’t test the theory against evidence, it mere chooses evidence to fit the theory and ignores everything else. Meyer actually does this right from the outset of his article by citing the apparent ‘conversion’ of philosopher Anthony Flew to deism:

In 2004, the distinguished philosopher Antony Flew of the University of Reading made worldwide news when he repudiated a lifelong commitment to atheism and affirmed the reality of some kind of a creator. Flew cited evidence of intelligent design in DNA and the arguments of “American [intelligent] design theorists” as important reasons for this shift.

Of course what Meyer neglects to mention is that Flew, in 2005, went on to reject both the fine-tuning argument and his earlier claims that DNA could not be explained by naturalistic theories, both of which are essential to the workings of Intelligent Design – Flew remains a deist, so far as I know, but one who’s conception of a supreme being is strictly non-interventionist after the point of creation (the big bang), a view which rules out a belief in intelligent design or an intelligent designer in the form supported by Meyer and others.

I’ll pass over the matter of ‘irreducable complexity’, which used to relate to the eye until it was debunked, and now rests on the flagellum bacteria, which has also been solidly debunked as well, much as Meyer and others desperately cling to this idea, and move on to this statement:

DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know that information – whether, say, in hieroglyphics or radio signals – always arises from an intelligent source. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed: “Information habitually arises from conscious activity.” So the discovery of digital information in DNA provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a causal role in its origin.

Information may well habitually arise from conscious activity but as any physicist worth their research grant can tell you the universe is full of information which does not rely on conscious thought – information does not always arise from an intelligent source, that is mere anthropic conceit on Meyer’s part. It is perhaps no great surprise that Meyer avoids this topic and merely makes his unsupportable and entirely false claim about information, the physics of information derives primarily from quantum theory, which the ID lobby tend to studiously avoid, due in no small measure, to their inability to take on and refute Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – there being no room for a designer in a universe that is intrinsicly random at the sub-atomic level.

In short, Meyer’s contention here is utter nonsense.

Not much more to say really, other than to note that Meyer’s Phd is in the philosophy of science and its to philosophy that one must turn to refute his contention that ID is not based on religion.

Let’s us take, for a moment, the hypothesis that there is such a thing as an intelligent designer. Now ask yourself this – where did this designer come from? Who designed the designer?

There are only two possible answers to this question. Either it is no one, that the supposed designer has always existed or came into being by a process of spontaneous self-creation and, therefore, exists outside of the confines space-time – in which case the designer is god and ID is based on religion, or there must be an infinite series of designers, all of whom are out there in an infinite universe designing new designers – in which case you have a reductio ad absurdum.

AS far as I can see Meyer has yet, as a philosopher, to attempt to tackle this question – perhaps he should before continuing to claim that intelligent design is based on scientific evidence.

  • We all have our blind spots that are created by dogmas of every ilk. I see much of the problem revolving around our infinitessimally smal understanding of consciousness itself and the biggest doga of all, that matter is a’priori to consciousness. Science is as loaded with dogma as is religion. It is only when a scientist is bold enough to challenge the current thinking that breakthroughs occur. I write about consciousness -not our thinking process – and come against dogmatic thinking at every turn. It seems we are forever thinking SMALL. Maybe it’s time we begin holding ourselves in higher regard. I’d be happy to hear from you and have you check out my blog.
    Bill Marshall

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