Bad Design is Still Design

BadDesignby Pete Chadwell  9/30/14
One very popular argument against Intelligent Design is the argument from suboptimal design. It seems that many are persuaded by this argument, but it really doesn’t take a whole lot of careful thought to see how ineffective such an argument is.

In a more general version of the argument, our critic might make reference to species which have gone extinct, or they might simply poke fun at how our health deteriorates as we age, and that eventually our bodies give out entirely, all while insisting that this is “crappy design.”

Unfortunately, the person who offers such an argument forgets that automobiles, aircraft, ships, buildings, trains, computers, bicycles–and a million other things we use daily–all have finite longevity and are all products of Intelligent Design. Is someone actually going to say that a Lycoming aircraft engine is a “crappy design” because, for example, the engine will require an overhaul after around 2000 hours of operation? Passenger aircraft have a finite longevity as well, established by the very company that designed and manufactured it. Once a particular Boeing 747 has endured a certain number of pressurization cycles, the whole airframe must be scrapped. Does this mean that a Boeing 747 is a “crappy design?” I would challenge the ID critic to cite just one known product of Intelligent Design that will not wear out and become non-functional at some point in time. Obviously, Intelligent Design and limited longevity are quite compatible with each other.

ArrowheadThe reason that argument seems attractive to many ID critics is that they they have a fundamental misunderstanding of the term “Intelligent Design.” The word “intelligent” is not meant to be a description of the “quality” of a given design. A primitive arrowhead carved from a piece of flint is as much the product of Intelligent Design as the most modern, precision-engineered bowhunting arrowhead.

So it isn’t whether the design is good or bad that tells us whether something is the product of Intelligent Design. When we say that something is the product of Intelligent Design, it’s not because the design is good or bad. Rather, it’s because we see that someone had to use intelligence to produce the thing in question, and intelligence boils down to the ability to make goal-oriented choices.

When you look at man’s early attempts at flight, you will see a comical array of hopeless contraptions none of which had any hope of getting off the ground.  In spite of this, each was a product of intelligent design because someone made choices oriented toward achieving a particular goal. EarlyFlightEven if those choices were bad choices, they were still choices oriented toward a goal and that is intelligent design.

Of course, we need to be prepared to deal with the more specific appeals to “bad design” as well.

But first, let’s examine the structure of the argument. Anyone who points to examples of “bad design” to make a case against Intelligent Design is essentially saying that if something has a design flaw, it cannot be the product of Intelligent Design. But this raises an important question: Can we see design flaws in things which we know are products of Intelligent Design? If the answer is “Yes,” then their argument is dead on arrival. And of course there are numerous examples of just this sort of thing:

In July of 1981, approximately 2,000 people assembled inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri to watch a dance competition. Spectators filled suspended walkways on the second, third, and fourth floors when, tragically, the structural support for the fourth floor bridge caused the collapse of two of the walkways, killing 114 people and injuring more than 200. The actual architect’s design wasn’t flawed, but the people building the structure departed from the architect’s specs and essentially substituted their own design, and it turned out to be badly flawed.

In the mid ’90s, General Motors took a lot of heat over a pickup truck design that placed the fuel tanks outboard of the frame rails, creating a serious fire hazard in the event of a side impact. Indeed, engineers were responsible for the design, and these engineers–like all other humans–were intelligent. But here we have a good example of suboptimal design, undeniably the product of Intelligent Design.

On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger and seven crew members were lost in a massive explosion about 73 seconds after lift-off. The explosion was caused by the failure of an O-ring in one of the field joints in the right-side rocket booster. A design flaw in the O-rings made them vulnerable to wide temperature variations and this, along with poor decision-making at NASA, lead to the destruction of “Challenger” and her crew.

These three examples all demonstrate conclusively that the presence of design flaws is entirely compatible with Intelligent Design. The hotel, the pickup truck and the rocket booster are all the products of Intelligent Design, and yet they all exhibited certain design flaws.

Having said all of that, it’s important to note that I’m not actually conceding that there are examples of suboptimal design in nature… I sincerely doubt there are any. But Richard Dawkins certainly thinks he’s found some…

A YouTube video features Richard Dawkins and Randolph Nesse discussing the human eye. The entire conversation is about how the human eye supposedly disproves Intelligent Design. The video is instructive for several reasons. Speaking of the human eye, Randolph Nesse says the following:

“It’s a perfect example of why the body is not designed. I mean, imagine a camera designer for a famous camera company like Nikon or Pentax who put the wires between the light and the film, which is how our eye is working.”

Perhaps Nesse should have quit while he was ahead. He was doing fine until he had to admit that our “eye is working” in spite of what might appear to be a rather odd design.

He goes on to point out the the human eye has a blind spot, and he and Dawkins actually demonstrate this for the video. But then Nesse does something he shouldn’t have: He keeps talking. After exposing the blind spot, he says this:

“What’s amazing, though, about how natural selection has made the eye so that it works despite this built-in flaw, is that the eye constantly jiggles slightly. We call it ‘nystagmus,’ and this seems like a problem, but it’s actually a solution.”

It’s obvious what Nesse has just done, and not all that cleverly. Whatever he sees as a design failure is evidence against Intelligent Design, but everything he sees as a design success counts as evidence for Darwinism. Convenient, isn’t it? This is a classic case of “heads I win, tails you lose.” But Nesse continues:

“Because if it wasn’t for the eye jiggling constantly…, that blind spot would always be in the same spot and you’d never see anything there. But because the eye moves slightly, you end up getting complete coverage of your field of vision.”

Curiously, Nesse refuses to see this as a designer’s work-around aimed at optimizing the function of the eye, and Dawkins’ own comment is that in spite of this serious flaw, the human eye is “a remarkably fine instrument.” This is odd, because earlier in the video Dawkins cites a famous German psychologist named Helmholtz who said that “If an engineer had given him the human eye, he’d have sent it back.” Why send back a “remarkably fine instrument?” These men are truly grasping at straws.

The fundamental problem with the argument from suboptimal design is rather simple: The only way you can assess the design of a particular system is if you have knowledge of all of the design objectives. You don’t have to be an engineer to understand that engineering is all about balancing and optimizing multiple competing design objectives. A bicycle frame needs to be very strong, but it also needs to be very light. Making the frame strong would be fairly straightforward: Just carve the shape out of solid steel. Likewise, making the frame very, very light would be simple as well: Paper tubes, perhaps. But of course both would be useless… the solid steel frame would be too heavy and the paper frame would lack the necessary strength. What Dawkins and Nesse refuse to acknowledge is that they don’t really know enough about all the design objectives that needed to be balanced to give us the eyes we have and so they’re really not qualified to assess the design one way or another, and neither am I.

One rather odd example of this argument from suboptimal design came to me from a long-time friend who asked me why men have nipples. I thought that was a pretty good question. I can see why, on the surface, this seems like a really strange design feature for men and I could see why it would make my friend scratch his head a bit. But when you actually dig for answers, this question ends up exposing a powerful argument for design.

The reason why men have nipples is actually quite simple: Every man starts out as a female. Every egg is female by default, and so has specification for all of the appropriate equipment. When an egg is fertilized by a sperm carrying a Y chromosome, those specifications get altered and a few weeks into development, what would have been ovaries become testicles, etc. But here’s where we uncover a surprising argument for design: If we find an object that has useless features, does that mean it was not designed? Well, turns out the answer is “No.”

EngineBlock_400I’m a car enthusiast, and I noticed that if you could look at the engine block of just about any car out there, you would likely find features on that engine block that are completely useless in that particular car. I’m talking about features common to cast parts like engine blocks, cylinder heads and manifolds called “bosses.” A “boss” is a raised, reinforced part of an engine block’s casting that is typically drilled and tapped to accept a fastener of some sort. A modern engine block is likely to be adorned with quite a few of these, but in any given car, only some will be used. And so, if you could get in there to see it, you would find that in any given car, there are a number of entirely useless casting bosses. In one car model, the engine might be mounted longitudinally while in other models the engine might be transverse-mounted, and this might require different mounting points where a different set of bosses are used.

Engineers are smart… if a particular type of engine is going to be used in different car models, they’re only going to want to create one mold for the engine block, it’s far more efficient. That one mold will yield a block that has provisions for mounting it in any of the car models designed with that engine in mind. But, as each engine is installed in individual cars, some bosses are not going to be used. And so you’re left with these “empty” bosses–they’re even drilled and tapped–but nothing gets bolted to them. They had a use, but because that engine ended up in car model X rather than car model Y, they no longer have a use.

A similar scheme can be seen here with the nipples on men. The nipples had an intended use in a potential sort of way, but because the egg ended up getting fertilized with a Y-chromosome instead of X, those nipples will never serve that potential purpose. The point is that this isn’t bad design at all… it’s actually quite good design. Or, at the very least, it’s a design strategy that is easy to find in things that we know are products of Intelligent Design.

The moral of this story is that when you encounter this argument from suboptimal design, whether it’s the human eye or the laryngeal nerve in a giraffe’s neck, there’s no need to give up any ground at all. Even IF we were to concede to certain design flaws in biology, (and we shouldn’t) we know that in general, design flaws are not incompatible with Intelligent Design. But we also know that we can’t even determine whether the curious routing of the laryngeal nerve in a giraffe is a “design flaw” because we don’t know all the competing design objectives, and neither does the critic. All we can really say is that it’s curious… even baffling. And there are many things that we use every day that have features which, if we were to pay attention, would puzzle us. But that never means that the object wasn’t designed… in fact we know–whether it’s a toaster oven or a hat rack–that it was the product of Intelligent Design. And so curious–even apparently useless–design features are not incompatible with Intelligent Design, which means that the argument from suboptimal design is a very poorly designed argument • (3175 views)

Share
This entry was posted in Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Bad Design is Still Design

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    With most liberal arguments (and secularists are mostly liberal and operate in the same fashion), there is an unspoken assumption that is crucial to their argument, but would be embarrassing to state out loud. (A good example is their constant demand for more teachers without regard to quality, implicitly assuming that the new ones will actually be good teachers despite the fact that their standards will be the same as those that lead to so many bad ones already.) In the case of the argument from design flaws, the implicit assumption is that the Designer must be an omniscient, omnipotent creator. Assume that the Designer isn’t omniscient or omnipotent, either one, and the argument disintegrates.

    • It’s certainly true that those making arguments like this are assuming that the Intelligent Designer in question is God, and of course I’m convinced that God is responsible for the design of, say, an osprey. But I think the most fatal assumption they make is that they can reliably assess whether a given design actually IS “suboptimal.” They used to say this about the vast regions of DNA that do not code for protein… they viewed it as a product of a flawed system, nothing more than a pile of junk… discarded evolutionary experiments that were now switched off and left for dead. But of course now we know differently… that those regions of DNA that don’t specify protein are specifying other things instead.

      Dawkins can complain all he wants about how silly he thinks the design of the giraffe’s laryngeal nerve is, but he really just doesn’t have the information he needs to assess that, and that he would try anyway just demonstrates his own foolishness.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    If we look inside the cell we see something that has somehow either evolved or that is designed. In either case it is extremely complex. Not only does this design or evolved state have to fashion a cell out of dead matter, it has to somehow erect a mind, feelings, emotions, sight perception, etc. That’s spooky stuff. And as complicated as one cell is, it gets even more complicated when you have to create an entire body, and one that moves and has to defend itself (from enemies large and small).

    Most of the time things work pretty well. But we all know people who suffer birth defects through no fault of their own. In these cases, the design could said to be faulty.

    I believe it was in Stephen Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt” and “The Signature in the Cell” where he makes the point that a Darwinian cell and DNA should look like one thing and a designed cell and DNA should look another way. Life that evolves should be full of old junk sitting around since there can be no foresight in evolution by natural selection. And that is why scientists were predisposed to jump on the idea of “junk DNA” when they found large patches of DNA that seemed to not code for proteins.

    Apparently most of that junk is not junk but is, for all intents and purposes, the operating system of DNA. It doesn’t code for proteins but has something to do with the regulation of that function (including things that they just don’t know yet). So given how there seems to be relatively little waste inside the cell, there is (given what we believe we think we should find, which is just a matter of opinion), the idea of design gains some points.

    And yet given all the things that do go wrong with life, should we expect more from not just an intelligent designer but an omnipotent designer? I think that’s a fair question. But any argument on this subject needs to keep in mind “A good or bad design, compared to what?” Fault-finding is easy, but could we ever design a more fault-tolerant human body, for example? I don’t know. One could always imagine that it could be better, could last longer, be lest prone to disease and genetic errors, etc. In theory, yes. In practice, who knows? We have little means at present for judging the ultimate merit of even apparently fault-prone designs.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Genetic engineering can work wonders, and Arthur C. Clarke had an improved human body by some such means in The City and the Stars. But of course, that was fiction. Until someone actually makes that perfected body, who knows? But a lot of people sure think they do.

  3. GHG says:

    The hubris of the self proclaimed intelligentsia is on full display when they pass judgement on things they can’t fully know. They mock God and it won’t turn out well for them.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      “The hubris of the self proclaimed intelligentsia is on full display when they pass judgement on things they can’t fully know.”

      John Lennox in “God’s Undertaker” describes what the prominent atheists such as Dawkins (perhaps all atheists) believe:

      Oxford Chemistry Professor Peter Atkins writes: “Humanity should accept that science has eliminated the justification for believing in cosmic purpose, and that any survival of purpose is inspired only by sentiment.”

      Lennox notes about the purpose of his own book:

      The question that is central to this book turns out to be in essence a worldview question: which worldview sits most comfortably with science — theism or atheism?

      Atheists believe that religious belief inhibits science. Lennox writes:

      Galileo certainly found Aristotelian philosophy scientifically inhibiting in its a priori prescription of what the universe had to be like. But neither Galileo or Newton, nor indeed most of the great scientific figures who contributed to the meteoric rise of science at the time, found belief in a Creator God inhibiting in this way. Far from it, they found it positively stimulating: indeed, for many of them it was their prime motivation for scientific investigation. That being the case, the vehemence of the atheism of some contemporary writers would spur one to ask: Why are they no so convinced that atheism is the only intellectually tenable position? Is it really true that everything is science point towards atheism?

      To understand what the prominent scientific atheists think, here are a couple quotes that Lennox offers in his book:

      Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg said: “The world needs to wake up from the long nightmare of religion… Anything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilization.”

      You would think finding a cure for cancer would be their greatest contribution. Here’s another quote. This one from Dawkins:

      “It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, ‘mad cow’ disease and many others, but I think that a case can be made that faith is one of the worlds’ great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.”

      The bottom line is that we must recognize that in people such as Dawkins we face a bigoted, fundamentalist-like fervor. You would suppose that, as scientists, truth would be their main concern, not their petty prejudices. This is just not so. There’s no sense of balance or proportion to these ideologues. Lennox writes:

      Whatever the implications of such statistics may be [regarding the percentage of scientists who are not atheists], surely such surveys provide evidence enough that Dawkins may well be right about the difficulty of accomplishing his rather ominous totalitarian-sounding task of eradicating faith in God from scientists.

  4. Is it a design flaw that the bones inside my arm will break under a certain amount of pressure? These kinds of questions can’t be answered about anything that is designed until and unless we know exhaustively the design objectives that had to be balanced.

    Is it a design flaw, for example, that the 2.5 liter inline 6-cylinder engine in my Triumph TR6 can only rev to 5500 rpm when other engines if that era could rev to 6500? What other benefits might be associated with that lower red-line? What things are traded off, and what things are gained?

    A bird’s skeleton involves an obvious trade off that screams “design.” Weight is shed, some strength is given up, but because of the internal structure of bird’s bones, strength remains very good, given the forces that those bones are likely to encounter.

    The crowd that wants to exploit “design flaws” as an argument against ID are just embarrassing themselves, really. They don’t have a clue.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Is it a design flaw that the bones inside my arm will break under a certain amount of pressure?

      Regarding this, one is dealing with trade-offs, as you noted. You could have stronger bones, but at what cost to weight, for example? Is this also true of the genetic diseases that so many suffer from? Is what we have the best design possible? If one could somehow eradicate genetic errors, would there be side-effects that are even worse — perhaps because we couldn’t evolve responses to pathogens or evolve in various useful ways at least in the micro realm?

      Clearly science, technology, and a lot of devoted and skilled doctors have shown that inserting even more intelligence into the equation has helped people regarding diseases and such. Does this show that there is room for improvement? I think it obviously does.

      I don’t come at this from the perspective that an alleged intelligent designer made something perfect. But if life is designed, it’s damned clever enough as it is. Could it be improved? From our perspective, surely so.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note that (as you will recall from Behe), sickle-cell anemia is a consequence of an adaptation to hemoglobin that fights malaria.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          And an interesting case of what he says is typical of evolution via random mutation….nothing is built. Something is destroyed in order to fend off a pathogen. The hemoglobin is degraded. I think he referred to it as “scorched earth tactics” or something like that.

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    http://www.icr.org/article/backwards-human-retina-evidence-poor-design/

    A rebuttal on the “impoverished design of the mammalian eye.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think the need for atheists to call the eye some kind of union hack job betrays their lack of objectivity. They are clearly on the lookout for anti-teleology, and will find evidence for no evidence of design wherever and however they can.

      Lennox and others have made the clear case that believing in a designer in no way weakens the pursuit of science. There’s a great case to be made that it enhances that pursuit. Whatever the case may be, it is a fascist-like ideology (typical of those on the Left) that drives them to want to drive out any perspective other than their own.

      Would it kill them to just gently suppose that design could have been involved? No, it wouldn’t hurt a bit. As Behe notes in “The Edge of Evolution,” cell biologists are finding that thinking in terms of design in regards to cellular systems is paying dividends — whether or not they actually deep-down believe in a designer.

      So what is the harm of an open mind on the subject? Why kind of scientist demands that things be this way other than that, especially when there is obviously so much to learn?

      I think Lynn Margulis was correct when she said that history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as “a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.”

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        That foot can not be let into the door. But the paradigm is cracking and one day will shatter into a million pieces, cutting these ostriches to shreds.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That foot can not be let into the door.

          How emotionally vapid can a person be? I don’t believe in religion with the same gusto as many of you do. But, as Jefferson might have said, that doesn’t in any way pick my pocket. If you’re Dawkins, why should one be committed (especially if one is a scientist) to any one world view? The calling card of science, if it is anything, is objectivity.

          Granted, as Lennox notes in one of his books, we all start out with basic biases, world views, models, assumptions, etc. We have to or we couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

          But what dire danger is to be encountered if it turns out that the evidence for design gathers strength? Is Dawkins a scientist in search of truth or the equivalent of a cardinal in the Church of Atheism?

          I think I just answered my own question.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      An interesting article, but it never explained why the cephalopod eye works, and in particular whether the cephalopod eye works better than the vertebrate eye (which is basically the Darwinist argument).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        You seem to know something about it. So what’s the issue? Fill in where you think Pete did not, for the benefit of the readers.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Well, I was referring to the article, which admits that the cephalopod eye does have the light receptors in the front of the cell. (Of course, the evolutionary history of mollusks is separate from that of vertebrates since the earliest phyla, probably the flatworms.) I don’t know the details of their cells, such as whether squids have rods and cones or some other types of receptors. That’s why I would have liked to see a comparison of the cephalopod eye, which has been cited as what the vertebrate eye should be like if both were designed.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Oh, I see. I just wondered. It gets complicated. If the cephalopod eye is different — but serves the same function — why didn’t the Designer reuse the code? But perhaps the different environment requires a different design.

            Or there is some merit to the idea of “convergent evolution.” We see two different designs because evolution blindly stumbled upon two different ways of making it work.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Speaking of the cephalopod eye, here’s an article intersecting on that: Et Tu, Octopus? It Was Hard Enough to Explain Human Eyes by Unguided Processes.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Basically, it appears that the evolutionist story is really a whole lot of “maybe this happened” stories, without any real proof. To be fair, I don’t know that intelligent design is any better as yet; this is the problem of dealing with events in the far distant past. But if you can’t theoretically disprove something, then it isn’t a valid scientific theory.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Yep. Much like the Islamist will say “God’s will” for nearly every damn thing, Neo Darwinists say “things evolved.” They become very good story tellers.

            But as Behe and others point out, it’s not enough to simply say “Things evolved.” One must show how one extremely complex system of proteins changed into another different and complex system of proteins, especially how this is achieved gradually. Or how any such system evolved in the first place. No one can yet do so.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Islamists and Darwinists — what a neat linkage (and so appropriate in its way).

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Here’s an interesting article in regards to the power of story telling (as opposed to facts, evidence, logic, or abductive reasoning): Psychologists Show How to “Suppress” Children’s Intuition of Design in Nature

                I don’t know whether this is outrageous, hilarious or simply very telling. Probably all three. The Wall Street Journal salutes the research of Boston University psychologist Deborah Kelemen. She has discovered that it’s possible with Darwinian storytelling to suppress common sense in children of the kind that leads them to recognize artifacts of intelligent design in nature.

                Here’s how the storytelling scenario works:

                Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues thought that they might be able to get young children to understand the mechanism of natural selection before the alternative intentional-design theory had become too entrenched. They gave 5- to 8-year-olds 10-page picture books that illustrated an example of natural selection. The “pilosas,” for example, are fictional mammals who eat insects. Some of them had thick trunks, and some had thin ones. A sudden change in the climate drove the insects into narrow underground tunnels. The thin-trunked pilosas could still eat the insects, but the ones with thick trunks died. So the next generation all had thin trunks.

                Before the children heard the story, the experimenters asked them to explain why a different group of fictional animals had a particular trait. Most of the children gave explanations based on intentional design. But after the children heard the story, they answered similar questions very differently: They had genuinely begun to understand evolution by natural selection. That understanding persisted when the experimenters went back three months later.

                As the author, David Klinghoffer, notes:

                There are a number of interesting points here. First, that the example of natural selection is fictional. The mammalian order Pilosa (anteaters and sloths) is real, but “pilosas” are not. Second, it is decidedly in the micro-evolutionary realm — a kind of evolution that no one disputes, certainly not advocates of the theory of intelligent design. There’s no reason to think that the “pilosas” are on their way to true speciation, of the kind that evolutionary theory is really challenged to account for, any more than Darwin’s finches. The extrapolation from such a trivial thing into the origin of all species and all biological complexity by unguided natural processes is a cheat.

                Most enlightening is that Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues would, to begin with, seek to talk children out of their intuitive response. Among ID researchers, the approach would be to test that intuition, objectively weighing the empirical evidence without preconceptions. Dr. Kelemen would “suppress” it: her own word!

                So who is programming whom? Who is bringing religion into the classroom? Having talked with many people who have attended college, one can say that this programming works.

                What’s the truth of how life started and changed? That, for most Darwinists, atheists, and secular types is clearly secondary. It doesn’t matter what is true. We just have to be sure to erase the idea of a Creator out of people’s minds.

                It’s worth keeping in mind the kind of child abuse this represents. It’s the political indoctrination of our children by Big Brother…and in all too many cases, by Big Sister.

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0199919755/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d1_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-5&pf_rd_r=1G3953X1MYBHYC6JNNHS&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200482&pf_rd_i=507846 The anti-Darwinian gradualist argument from a confirmed materialist philosopher. This brave guy has been crucified for his treason. One needs to consider the Kantian- thing in itself- limitations on materialist explanations.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      As coincidence would have it, I read part of the free Kindle sample of this book last night as well as a few of the reviews. We must commend this scientist for taking the baby step of supposing that there is more to this world than the mere material. But, gauging from the reviews, he’s not quite the second coming of Stephen Meyer. He is not open to any sort of theism. His, according to one reviewer, is a “teleological neutral monism” — monism being (for purposes here) the idea that the mind simply “emerges” from the matter and is subordinate to matter, that is has no separate existence….except, of course (as he seems to describe it), that is seems to be some fundamental part of nature. So it seems to be a blur or reasoning at this point, an early stage of waking up to the inadequacy of radical materialism.

      So, gauging from the reviews, we see the baby-steps of a scientist disengaging a bit from the (fundamentalist) radical materialist scientific culture and at least asking some fair questions — and, according to Glenn and other reviewers, getting pummeled for it by the atheist fundamentalists.

      Simply acknowledging some of what he seems to have acknowledged is a start, and for that he should be commended. And yet baby steps are still baby steps. The mind itself doesn’t just question the idea of materialism it shatters it. And the mind we have is not exactly hidden from plain sight. Clearly, from day one, there is more going on than just dead matter, starting small and then acquiring attributes as it mixes in complex ways. I don’t hand out gold stars for just showing up.

      I admit to being impatient at such baby steps. But some sympathy can be given when you realize the generally rot-gut Dawkins-like fundamentalist environment that must exist in and around the craft of science. It’s to that Orwellian point, as Glenn mentioned recently in an article, that “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *