Monday, August 16, 2010

How can you tell the difference between design and the appearance of design?

Wild Bill Dembski has a ridiculous post over on his . . . well I have trouble calling it a blog because his moderation policies. Over there he is making . . . what he seems to think . . . is an example of logic and rational thinking. I call it yet another pile of Dembski. I'm sure someone over at the Discovery Institute will cite his post and tell us how brilliant he is . . . but the reality is he is full and I think it's starting to leak. I guess I should say it's one of his contributors, but they don't seem to believe in names, so I will simply blame Dembski -- it's his blog. Here is the link if you feel so inclined: So here goes. To start take a look at this:

One common objection which is often raised regarding the proposition of real design (as opposed to design that is only apparent) is the criticism that design is unable to be falsified by the ruthless rigour of empirical scrutiny. Science, we are told, must restrict its explanatory devices to material causes. This criterion of conformity to materialism as a requisite for scientific merit is an unfortunate consequence of a misconstrue of the principal of uniformitarianism with respect to the historical sciences.
. . .
I have thus concluded that free will exists (arguing otherwise leads to irrationality or reductio ad absurdum) and that hence materialism – at least with respect to the nature of consciousness – must be false if rationality is to be maintained.
My reasoning can be laid out as follows:
1: If atheism is true, then so is materialism.
2: If materialism is true, then the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain.
3: If the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain, then human autonomy and consciousness are illusory because our free choices are determined by the dual forces of chance and necessity.
4: Human autonomy exists.
From 3 & 4,
5: Therefore, the mind is not reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain.
From 2 & 5,
6: Therefore, materialism is false.
From 1 & 6,
7: Therefore, atheism is false.
Now, where does this leave us? Since we have independent reason to believe that the mind is not reducible to material constituents, materialistic explanations for the effects of consciousness are not appropriate explanatory devices.
Here is how you build an 'analogy' in the style of 'logic' as Wild Bill.
If A is true, then B.
if B is true, then C.
if C is true, then D.
D is not true.
Therefore C is not true.
Therefore B is not true.
Therefore A is not true.
I am so wonderful I just solved an E!
Now this works like the Mad Libs. Do you remember them. The objective of that game was to select specific words of a certain type, like three Nouns, two Verbs, one Color, and a Number. Then you would turn the page and place those words within the context of a story and view the funny results.

If we do it the Wild-Bill way we would substitute anything we like for the variables 'A' thru 'D' and . . . lo and behold . . . your first variable 'A' is found to be untrue and that disproves something you hadn't even been addressing 'E'. Here is the secret that Dembski forgot to mention -- the items you select do not have to have anything to do with each other. In fact the more unconnected they are, the better! Therein lies the fun!

What, you don't believe me? Well read that his set-up again. That's where he blows it with
" criterion of conformity to materialism "
OK, Materialism is a philosophy that claims that the only thing that exists is matter. All interactions, including consciousness are derived from material interactions.

Fine, as far as it goes. But is there a requirement to conform to Material in Science? There is a relationship, but not in the way Bill assumes -- or tries to sell it to us. Science DOES NOT claim that matter is the only substance. Science's relationship with Materialism is that nature, and it's interactions, are the only things we can reliably examine and form conclusions. Anything other than that is beyond the scope of science. Let me repeat that for you Bill . . . BEYOND THE SCOPE OF SCIENCE. The philosophy of materialism shares a boundary of science.

Remember what science is, don't you? It's attempting to formulate construct explanations of a given phenomena that can be tested, repeated, and used. How can we do that with explanations that assign responsibility to metaphysical manifestations -- manifestations that never seem to manifest outside people's imagination? How do we use explanations requiring the action or activity beyond the material universe? Truth is, we cannot. Science is limited to the material world, the natural world. But that doesn't mean that materialism, as a philosophy, is true, only that science, if it wants to be repeatable and useful, must confine itself to the natural world.

So now where does that come into his supposed chain of logic? His ridiculous. 'If atheism is true then so is materialism'. This is a logical fallacy. Atheism is rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In order for this statement to be true than the ONLY form of metaphysical manifestation would be Gods. I would love to see him prove that one! What we have here is an assumption and one teamed with a logical fallacy . . . well you get the idea.

Now why does atheism make materialism true? It doesn't. You might as well say that belief in God makes Pluralism true. It is an unsupported statement and meaningless. I love how he slips 'consciousness' into the mix. What is consciousness? It's been the subject of philosophical debate for centuries. Is it tied to a physical mind, or does it somehow transcend the physical and into the metaphysical? No one knows . . . especially not Wild Bill. But he pretends that he does. by taking an unknown and using it to 'prove' his reasoning. Bill, I wish you would leave science to the scientists and stop pretending you have a clue.

I have a better answer for you Bill . . . 42! It makes as much sense, but it is infinitely more entertaining than reading your tripe. Oh wait, tripe has a purpose, as does manure. So I am having trouble finding the right adjective to describe your post other than wishing I hadn't bothered to read it. I'll be more circumspect the next time I see a link to your uncommonly bad blog.

Personally I think whoever ghost-wrote this should go back to the very first line where they thinks there is an issue with determining actual design from the appearance of design. All you have to do is show an example of actual design. I thought so. The reason there is so much trouble telling the difference between actual design and the appearance of design is because there only thing anyone has found is the appearance of design. No one, not Dembski, Behe, Johnson . . . to name a few from the DI has been able or willing to do. If they cannot see past the appearance of design, then why should the rest of us bother to look? I have no trouble recognizing the appearance of design. It's quite common in the natural world. So far forays into actual design have been strictly metaphysical manifestations of wishful thinking. That and a couple of bucks might get your a little cup of decent coffee.

1 comment:

  1. Good takedown. I couldn't get past Number 1. It seemed meaningless to me.