Archive for April, 2007

Bon appétit!

Posted: April 22, 2007 in Intelligent Design, Theo/Philo

darwin_charles.jpg  “There is mystery in the universe, beguiling mystery, but it isn’t capricious, whimsical, and frivolous in its changeability. The universe is an orderly place and, at a deep level, regions of it behave like other regions, times behave like other times.There is an appetite for wonder, and isn’t true science well qualified to feed it?” 

“The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living it is finite.” 

I’m convinced that we are hard wired to worship. Every Human being is compelled to worship, In fact the compulsion to worship is; among other traits, a defining characteristic of humanity. Apes, Dolphins, cows and amoeba do not worship, as far as we can tell. 

The two quotes above are from Dawkins, who exclusively mentions an ‘appetite for wonder’ but doesn’t explain why that appetite exists, what it provides –what competitive advantage did the ancient appetite for wonder provide those who initially mutated a sense of wonder, why does it persist?

You do not need to ascribe to a particular belief involving non-materialistic causalities in order to worship, even professional atheists such as Dawkins et al worship.Worship is ubiquitous, defines everything we do at any time of day, it is not just about religious expression, it colors everything. Worship involves giving devotion to, ascribing qualities of worth to, giving reverence to, admiring, giving esteem to a subject.

G.K.Chesterton:

When we “cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything”

Richard Dawkins recognizes the appetite for wonder that we all have, nature it seems beguiles us and fills us with a sense of wonder, we worship it when we adore and reverence it.

The new atheists such as Harris, Dennett and Dawkins are busy replacing the very thing they despise; the New Scientist clarifies in this piece regarding a recent meeting:

‘It had all the fervor of a revivalist meeting. True, there were no hallelujahs, gospel songs or swooning, but there was plenty of preaching, mostly to the converted and much spontaneous applause for exhortations to follow the path of righteousness. And right there at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts was God Yet this was no religious gathering – quite the opposite. Some of the leading practitioners of modern science, many of them vocal atheists, were gathered last week in La Jolla, California, for a symposium entitled “Beyond belief: Science, religion, reason and survival” hosted by the Science Network, a science-promoting coalition of scientists and media professionals convening at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.’

Along with a sense of wonder and a need to collective worship, is the compulsion to personalize, Charles Darwin wrote of natural selection:
‘It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation. Even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever opportunity offers. As the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life’

It’s as if Natural selection were some type of person working covertly on our behalf.We all worship, what is distinctive is the object of that worship.

Richard Keyes in his chapter ‘The Idol Maker’ from the excellent book ‘No God but God’ considers that the human condition tends towards two basic idols, always working in pairs; they are characterized by the need for control and the need for trust. Neo Darwinian Evolution provides an over arching narrative through exclusively methodical naturalism that worshipers trust .Neo Darwinian Evolution also provides a means of autonomy and control through unbridled manipulation of genetic material, unbridled in the sense that ultimately what is there to stop us except our technology ? 

The trouble with this worship is, frankly, that it is blinkered, the final end of the atheist who enjoys Dawkins ‘awed wonder of the highest experience’, the poetry of nature is a little more disturbing,The last word goes to Bertrand Russell:

‘That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving: that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms: that no fire , no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling , can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction…that the whole temple of mans achievements’ must inevitably be buried – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built’. 

Advertisements

Dorothy Sayers on Symbols

Posted: April 17, 2007 in Theo/Philo

people-crowds.jpg 

Dorothy Sayers:

“The whole notion that the Son of God came in the flesh to the roaring,Jostling… joking, quarreling, fighting, guzzling, intriguing, lobbying, worldly,polemical, political, sophisticated, brutal, Latinized, Hellenized, confused, complicated,

careless civilization of first-century Jewry is utterly dissipated and lost.

Christ wasn’t born into history—He was born into the Bible (Authorized Version)—aplace where nobody makes love, or gets drunk, or cracks vulgar jokes, or talksslang, or cheats, or despises his neighbors, but only a few selected puppets makeritual gestures symbolical of the sins of humanity. No wonder the story makes solittle impression on the common man. It seems to have taken place in a world quitedifferent from our own—a world full of reverent people waiting about in polite attitudesfor the fulfillment of prophecies.“Forgive this outburst. Story-telling is my profession, and even if I believed nothing,it would offend me to the soul to see that tremendous story so marred and emasculated in the handling.”

 

Shrinkwrapped trackback

Posted: April 11, 2007 in Uncategorized

051031_gore.jpg

Check out this blog ‘shrinkwrapped’, they have a excellent post ‘The value and danger of Anxiety’ regarding using ‘green’ politics as a means to control and as an avenue to power, consider Al Gore as a primary example.
Here in the UK our government is hell bent on introducing more and more restrictions in order to reduce C02 emissions, this sounds like something we would expect a good government to do -given the assumption,and that assumption is not universally accepted, that we are the reason for the rise in co2 -but this could be an opportunity for a ‘Creeping Climate and Life style fascism is already underway’.
If nothing else this post at ‘Shrinkwrapped’ is provocative.Everyone should read this! Woops blogofascim!

The post is here

The Design of Tomorrow

Posted: April 10, 2007 in Intelligent Design

shell.jpg 

Occasionally I have come upon those who believe that in order to criticise an idea which claims to provide answers to a question, you must provide an alternative answer, otherwise, they consider your criticisms are not valid.I have never understood why this is the case…I’d appreciate any thoughts?Surely I can criticise a theory without needing a viable fully formed alternative?Without the power to criticise, where is the impetuous to refine ideas, how is progress made?

There are many problems with the current theory of how we got to be what we are, the theory of evolution.For instance:

I’m buying a new pc soon; I have had enough of my current one breaking down every three months, the hard drive keeps failing. Its time to get a new one, which, I have decided, will be ‘future proof’ that is it would be compatible with developments and requirements yet to be.My notion of future proof is based on what functions I value and how I see those functions changing over time.Future proofing is I consider an exclusive characteristic of design.

Regarding the theory of evolution and future proofing  E.O.Wilson says:
How did natural selection prepare the mind for civilisation before civilisation ever existed…That is the great mystery of evolution how to account for calculus and Mozart? Natural selection does not anticipate future needs.’

 Natural selection of course does not anticipate anything.Intelligent design does however; allow for future proofing, such as Mike gene’s  idea of front loading as a teleological process:

“Front-loading is the idea that the designer made the first organisms with the future in mind, and that the original design influenced the course of evolution.”

As an example:

‘When you understand the potential utility of something like the G protein, you would have to ask why any designer would use it in only one situation? Clearly, such switches could be useful in a variety of situations and a variety of contexts, controlling the maze of complex interactions that exists within a cell. In other words, an understanding of the G protein’s role inside the cell leads us to predict common design from a teleological perspective. If the cell was designed, it would make no sense to design a completely novel switch every single time a switch is used. Instead, you would seek to use the same basic switch wherever it would function well. And this is exactly what we see in the cell, where G proteins are extensively used to control such things as protein synthesis, signal transduction, vesicle trafficking, cell division, and the reorganization of the cytoskeleton. A variety of different types of G proteins, along with different GEFs and GAPs, are plugged into a variety of circuits’

(for further examples of Frontloading with nature go here.)

We can imagine arranging all the organisms known, in order of increasing complexity, there would,im sure be an impression of relatedness, based on similarities of structure and function. (I can not comment on common descent –the jury’s out for me currently).Frontloading does not necessarily mean common descent.

The trademarks signs of design we see in man made objects are reproduced in nature,the implication being  design rather than accident.

In man made objects there are ideas which are used in different devices –for instance pumps, filters, gears etc are seen in planes ,Hoovers, trains, hospital equipment to name but a few. This is tantamount to conservation as seen in Nature, where structures are copied and used in different organisms, looks like Modular design.Also as mentioned frontloading is used in man made design anticipating future use and allowing for it in current design, my pc in embryo –yet to be delivered, has slots for an additional graphics card, addition memory and another hard drive, my pc is frontloaded in some sense.

So the point of this confused rambling post is that Teleology has hallmarks that ateleology does not,we see those hallmarks in nature-go figure. William Dembski has detailed his hallmark of design; complex specified information, Mike Behe has his irreducible complexity and Mike Gene and the telic thoughts boys have proposed theirs i.e. frontloading and modular design. 

Meat the computer…You!

Posted: April 7, 2007 in Theo/Philo

pathway.gif

Some groups of  atoms had some ideas about reductionism; here is a symbolic representation of the ideas those atoms had.

(please note: those atoms whose ideas are represented below are grouped under specific identifiers; such as Neil,Marvin,Ernest and Abraham )

Science has spectacularly used the idea of reductionism to unify, explain and dominate.Reductionism assumes that everything is ultimately explainable and can be reduced down to its constituent parts, down to the subatomic particle and beyond, if the string theorists have there way.Reductionism is a tool, an explanatory tool and as such it has limits, the best person to explain those limits, is the late great thinker and author Neil Postman.Regarding the non-neutrality of any tool Abraham Maslow, the psychologist, once said that to someone who has only a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. And Neil Postman adds that ‘to a man with a pencil, everything looks like a list. To a man with a camera, everything looks like an image. To a man with a computer, everything looks like data’Any tool we use both defines how we use it and limits the outcomes possible from its use, reductionism being no exception.Ernest Gellner:

“Reductionism, roughly speaking, is the view that everything in this world is really something else, and that the something else is always in the end unedifying (…) [Reductionism] is rooted (…) not in the nature of things, but in our ideal of explanation. Genuine explanation (…) means subsumption under a structure or schema made up of neutral, impersonal elements. In this sense, explanation is always “dehumanizing”, and inescapably so”. It offends our sense of dignity, especially when presented in the form of a “nothing – but” claim, e.g., living beings are “nothing but” collections of molecules. This example of constituent reductionism is actually rather crude for it leaves out the intricate relationships among the molecules that are needed for an entity to be alive. A stronger claim is Marvin Minsky’s assertion that human beings are “just computers made of meat.”