September 06, 2008

A conversation

She - Please don't tell me you actually like the gun-toting 'beauty' queen Sarah Palin whose belief in the sanctity of life apparently doesn't stretch to the animals she kills for fun, where your own once did (but perhaps no longer...? are you even vegetarian these days?)

Me - I do like and admire Sarah Palin, so far. As for hunting, that's bad, but buying a hamburger is worse. You will probably be surprised to find out that her acclaimed speech was written by Matthew Scully who wrote "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy". Yes, I'm an imperfect vegetarian, who occasionally eats fish in social settings.

She - The idea of teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools is bizarre - should we teach every theory for which there is zero evidence? There are not enough hours in the school day.

Me - Intelligent Design isn't applied science it's philosophy and as arguable as the opposite. Evolution, which is certainly correct, doesn't say anything about Intelligent Design. It would bother me more if secularist commissars succeed in banishing ID or its opposite from schools. Creationism is simply a special case of ID. In it's biblical form it's a myth. So what? It would be wrong to teach it as science and if Governor Palin proposed that (she hasn't), she'd be wrong. But the issue doesn't have the intrinsic importance you give it. Its importance derives from its status as a badge for bien pensants who want to shut down non-conformist speech. Voltaire would recognize the syndrome.

She - 'Intelligent design' *has* of course been comprehensively debunked, first by Hume and most recently and eloquently by Dawkins. Anyone with a grasp of probability and natural selection applies Ockham's Razor and says, there is a far simpler and more plausible explanation for this phenomenon than to postulate the existence of a god. Natural selection explains the phenomenon that you perceive as design without postulating the existence of imagined beings to explain it - that is its beauty. You might as well postulate the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster if you refuse to accept that the simplest explanation is the one most likely to be true.

Me - No. ID and Natural Selection don't conflict at all as ideas. Natural Selection explains a tiny subset of the organized universe. Occam's Razor cuts both ways. If I find an apparent artefact, the simplest explanation is that somebody made it.

She - G. K. Chesterton puts it best: "One elephant having a trunk was odd; but all elephants having trunks looked like a plot." Complexity does not imply design. Even if it did (which it doesn't), it would not imply the existence of a Christian god, any god, or any being whose existence is continuing. I can feel you itching to come out of the Christian closet...

Me - I'm not in any closet, WYSIWYG. What I do see is that free thought and free expression is far more threatened by the modern secularists than by Christians. Dawkins by the way is ultimately agnostic about ID, like me.


Alice Adams said...

A heavily edited conversation at that! Once again, evolution and intelligent design do not have to conflict - they are competing explanations for the same phenomenon so if you accept evolution, intelligent design theory is redundant.

That is why the nutjobs want it taught as an ALTERNATIVE to evolution in SCIENCE lessons!

Alice Adams said...

Dawkins is so agnostic about 'intelligent design' that he wrote a book called "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design".

Dawkins is the poster boy for atheism - he and I are only agnostic about matters of religion in the same sense that we are agnostic about leprechauns.