Sunday, June 12, 2016

Is the Universe an Awful Waste of Space?

You know the Discovery Institute can pretty much take anything and turn it into a binary set, either it supports Intelligent Design (ID) or it doesn't support ID.  Case in point this little missive from one of my favorite ID sources, little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer and the DI site: Evolution 'News' and Views (EnV) 'Objection to Intelligent Design -- Universe Is Too Big, with Too Much "Wasted Space"'.

The DI has taken an old comment of Carl Sagan's and tried to turn it into a strawman critique of ID and then they demolish the strawman and claim another victory for ID.  The original quote: 
"The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space." (Carl Sagan: Contact)
It was from Sagan's book 'Contact' and also used in the movie of the same name. It is an interesting thing to say and something that has provoked a lot of thought.  Now, did Sagan state it as an argument against God?  Not that I recall, but I might have to re-read Contact to make sure.  But in all honesty, whether you want to adhere to the Creationist explanations or the scientific explanations, if we are the only life in the universe, it is pretty wasteful, isn't it?

Of course, waste is an opinion, a point of view, right?  Think about an 8 oz glass with 4 oz of wine.  To some the glass is half-empty, to some others it's half-full.  To an engineer, it's too much glass and to a very good friend of mine, it's not nearly enough wine.  So whether or not you consider the entire Universe wasted space is pretty much an opinion, one that I happen to agree with, but it's still an opinion. 

But before going any deeper, I would like to point something else out, something the DI likes to pretend isn't important.  Yes, my single favorite topic when discussing the DI, their religion.  The original article klingy is referencing included this quote, one he didn't use for some reason:
"It’s a strange question, isn’t it? Chances are it’s never even occurred to you. But I like it anyway, not because it’s an especially profound thing to ask, but because it leads to some really encouraging thoughts about God’s greatness, His power, His glory — which He wants to share with us all, even though He doesn’t have to. God can afford that, too."
In fact, the article mentions God 15 times in a very short article.  The source is a website called 'The Stream', which, if you haven't guessed, is a faith-based news site.  Yes, if the DI, and their pet version of Creationism is not a religious proposition, why is klingy using an article that is very specific about its intent, and it's certainly not science.  So, as usual, klingy, and the DI, use religion and religious sources of information, but any religious connotation is supposed to be ignored?

OK, off my favorite soapbox for now.  You know me, I'll probably mention it again.  What I do find interesting is that klingy seems to go out of his way to avoid using the word 'God'.  Does he think he's fooling anyone?  Seriously?

OK, back to klingy's article, which is nothing new, like this:
"this argument points to the unique fitness of the universe and of our planet for upright bipeds like ourselves. The whole thing appears set up for us, and only for us."
Ah yes, the privileged planet argument, also frequently put forth by the . . . DI.  Yes, this is nothing more than a restatement of a premise they have yet to support with anything . . . anything at all.

What I don't get is how they don't realize how self-limiting this argument is, especially when you consider how little of the Universe we have explored yet.  The instance we do discovery any form of life, especially one very different to us, this whole argument is flushed.  In my opinion this argument is nothing but an expanded God-Of-The-Gaps argument.  Think about it.  What justification do they make with this argument?  That we have yet to discovery life anywhere else, in other words . . . a gap.  But like all gap arguments, as soon as we learn something new about the subject, it's done.  To an ancient Greek, Apollo might have been the answer, but it's done.  To close-minds like kennie ham, Creationism is responsible for everything . . . aside from a cultural/political argument, it's done!  That's what will happen to the whole privileged planet argument.

I'm sure Creationists will survive, they will simply evolve new arguments, after all, isn't Intelligent Design an evolution of the Creation Science argument?  Nothing new, just a change to try and make it sound less religious.  It hasn't worked well, but it is an evolution, much as they probably hate that being pointed out.

Then klingy does something pretty common for the DI and their mouthpieces.  He tries to claim any opposition is using tactics that, in reality, the DI is using.  Look at this:
"ID critics often end up playing the role of naïve theologian: What they "seem to want is a metric with The Human Body as God Would (or Should) Have Made It at one end of the measuring stick."
Yes, some ID critics have looked at the human body and determined that if the human body was designed by a deity, that deity is a lousy designer.  But who is really telling God what he/she did or did not do?

Isn't that what Creationists do every day?  Look at the DI, or any of the Creationists groups.  They repeatedly say "An Intelligent Designer/God Did This!" and offer no actual support, just the usual conjecture and wishful thinking.  At least when ID is criticized, the rationale for the criticism is offered so you can understand it. 

Even back to the original argument, is the Universe mostly wasted space?  I don't know . . . yet.  But one day we will know more and more.  It we are the only life that exists, or that ever or will ever exist, then I will consider it a huge waste of space, regardless of what religious rationalization the DI wants to spin on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment