Thursday, July 13, 2006

Is Evolution Cleverer than You?

An article entitled 'Putting the Cart Before the Horse' uses a passage from a speech of Daniel Dennett, atheist and Darwinist, as a basis for commentary. Parts of the article appear here in italics.


Francis Crick called Orgel's Second Rule. "Evolution is cleverer than you are."

Again and again evolutionists, molecular biologists, biologists in general, see some aspect of nature which seems to them to be sort of pointless or daft or doesn't make much sense - and then they later discover it's in fact an exquisitely ingenious design - it is a brilliant piece of design - that's what Francis Crick means by Orgel's Second Rule.

This might almost look like a slogan for Intelligent Design theory. Certainly Crick was not suggesting that the process of evolution was a process of intelligent design. But then how can evolution be cleverer than you are?

What you have to understand is that the process itself has no foresight; it's entirely mechanical; has no purpose - but it just happens that that very process dredges up, discovers, again and again and again, the most wonderfully brilliant designs - and these designs have a rationale. We can make sense of them. We can reverse-engineer them, and understand why they are the wonderful designs they are.



This is an argument by assertion. A purposeless, mechanical process devoid of foresight is not only clever but more so than you are. How do we know? It's our capacity to discover and make sense out of "wonderfully brilliant designs." Incidentally, this thought process plays out over and over again in articles citing results of various scientific studies. Notice how often the discussion of scientific data is accompanied by a speculative expression attributing evolution as a cause related to the data in question. There is no need to show a detailed linkage. The underlying assumption that a purposeless, mechanical force was at work is sufficient.


It's hard to read this without getting the feeling that Dennett is trying with all his might not to admit that living things certainly appear to be intelligently designed. Indeed, were it not for Dennett's a priori committment to atheism he would probably not even bother to engage in such a laborious struggle. He gives the game away in this paragraph where he tries to convince us that a blind, mecahnical process is even more brilliant, more ingenious, than the most clever of human engineers:

What you have to understand is that the process itself has no foresight; it's entirely mechanical; has no purpose - but it just happens that that very process dredges up, discovers, again and again and again, the most wonderfully brilliant designs - and these designs have a rationale. We can make sense of them. We can reverse-engineer them, and understand why they are the wonderful designs they are.

Dennett's confidence that, despite all appearances to the contrary, living things are not really intelligently designed rests upon his confidence that there is no intelligent designer. In philosophy this sort of thinking is called begging the question, or less technically, putting the cart before the horse.



Exactly right. If one is determined to believe that an intelligent designer could not exist then what is the point of looking at the other side's arguments and cited data. It is the personally bothersome secondary implications of an intelligent inference that leads opponents of intelligent design to rule it out a priori.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home