Archive for March, 2010

Berlinski quote of the Month

Posted: March 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

Not unrelated to the film ‘Expelled -no intelligence allowed’-I submit for your thoughts and comments:

‘Dawkins is prepared to acknowledge the facts while denying their significance. Neither the Nazis nor the Communists, he affirms, acted because of their atheism. They were simply keen to kill a great many people. Atheism had nothing to do with it. They might well have been Christian Scientists.

In the early days of the German advance into Eastern Europe, before the possibility of Soviet retribution even entered their untroubled imagination, Nazi extermination squads would sweep into villages, and after forcing the villagers to dig their own graves, murder their victims with machine guns. On one such occasion somewhere in eastern Europe , an SS officer watched languidly, his machine gun cradled, as an elderly and bearded Hasidic Jew laboriously dug what he knew to be his grave.

Standing up straight, he addressed his executioner. “God is watching what you are doing,” he said.

And then he was shot dead.

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals,Brown shirts, Black shirts,gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing.

And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either.

That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.”

(taken from David Berlinski’s book ‘The Devils delusion Atheism and its scientific pretensions’)

Last week I saw the UK premier of the controversial American film ‘Expelled -no intelligence allowed’ featuring Ben Stein and concerning the freedom of enquiry within Science .Specifically the freedom to infer an intelligent cause in the origin of life and its diversity.

This film was shown by premier radio ,with Justin Brierly as host, at Imperial college London, right next door to the natural Science Museum.

The Intelligent design inference ,like the naturalistic material inference which is the current default position for Science have metaphysical implications -it is these implications that make the subject of intelligent design and Evolution such a hot baked potato.

After the screening of the film there was a panel of 4 people, 2 on each side of the argument debating the film and its implications followed by a Q&A session.

On the panel was Dr Steve Fuller and Dr Alistar Nobel support ID, opposing them was Dr Keith Fox and Dr Susan Blackmore .

Dr Fox presented the argument that Intellegent design was a show stopper for Science; paraprhasing he said : all we can say is God did it ..then what , where does the research go then ?

In reply to this a few thoughts come to mind -:

1.Science largely arose from a Theistic perspective for 2 reasons:

a.Man was sinful therefore his faculties were suspect -he had an epistemological crisis-to over come ,which the scientific method provided via evidence and experimentation.

b.The universe is rational therefore a rational mind can comprehend it.

2.Science should follow where the evidence leads even if it leads towards design rather than blind chance,ascribing chance to a phenomena instead of design may be the show stopper -particularly if the phenomena in question was actually designed.

For further arguments go here

Dr Alistair Nobel quiet rightly kept bringing up the specified information content found within DNA  in the cell was not unlike  computer code,which needs an intelligence source to write it .  The similarities betweeen code and DNA were used to imply Intelliegnt design as a reasonable inference .

Stephen Meyer:

‘Thus, oddly, at nearly the same time that computer scientists were beginning to develop machine languages, molecular biologists were discovering that living cells has been using something akin to machine code or software all along.To quote the information scientist Hubert Yockley again “The genetic code is constructed to confront and solve problems of communication and recording by the same principles found…in modern communication and computer codes.” Like software, the coding regions of DNA direct operations within a complex material system via highly variable and improbable, yet also precisely specified, sequences of chemical characters. How did these digitally encoded and specifically sequenced instructions in DNA arise? And how did they arise within a channel for transmitting information?

How indeed ?

Information is separate from the medium or substrate that carries it:

George Willams (Evolutionary Biologist) “evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains:that of information and that of matter…The gene is a package of information, not an object.The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene.But the DNA is the medium not the message”

-no chance event has ever produced specified information yet there is a presupposition towards chance as the bringer of complexity that can not only produce a code and give meaning to the code but can also produce the means of transcribing and translating that code -Chicken and egg come to mind.There is much more to  the film including the a link between Natural selection and the Nazi regime.

A great day out thanks Premier radio for the event .