Monday, August 06, 2012

Atheism at sixes and sevens

Here are two common objections to intelligent design theory:

i) Design flaws are counterevidence

ii) Design detection presumes knowing the intentions of the agent.

I think both these objections are bad objections in their own right, but for now I’m primarily interested in how they cohere (or not). For doesn’t (ii) cancel out (i)? If (arguendo) we lack access to the intentions of the designer, then how can we know if something is poorly designed?

For instance, planned obsolescence might appear to be a design flaw. But that serves an economic purpose.

Also, doesn’t (ii) sabotage the argument from evil? If we lack access to God's intentions, how can atheists say any particular evil is gratuitous or lacking a morally sufficient rationale? If they raised that objection to intelligent design, doesn’t that boomerang on the argument from evil?


  1. Steve, I thought the same thing at times.

    I've noticed that objections to Christianity (and Christian worldview) are often contradictory. Sometimes these objections come from DIFFERENT groups and individuals. Other times, they come from the SAME groups and individuals (and so exhibit cognative dissonance at best, or hypocrasy at wost). Here are just some examples that people of different epochs and/or differing degrees of knowledge make. There variations in each of these statements. They can also be formulated more precisely or in a more informed way. I've opted to state them in the most popular form (i.e. less rigorous) and therefore can appear to be strawmen representations. Though, SOME people will actually state it in these ways.

    1 a) The God of the Bible is too human to believe in. He's like the pagan gods of Greece and Rome.
    b) The God of the Bible (esp. Calvinism) is too sovereign and transcendant that humans can't relate to, or understand him.

    2 a) The world is too complex and there's too much that people don't yet know to come to firm conclusions about the nature of reality. Or, because of the limits of induction (i.e. no has universal inductive experience) no one can know anything for sure.
    b) There's enough inductive evidence to conclude that there's probably no God (e.g. because of gratuitous evil etc.). Or, It's clear and obvious that God doesn't exist. Or, there's not enough/sufficient evidence to conclude a God exists [yet can't make a case for what's "sufficient"].

    3 a) The Bible has such a low view of humanity because it presents men as such wretches and unworthy worms (especially in relation to God).
    b) Christianity is (and Christians are) so egotistical because it has the audacity to claim that humans are the zenith of God's creation. Even to the point of promising that redeemed man will one day be exalted above angels and will be as close to the infinite God (in likeness) as finite creatures can possibly be.

    4 a) The universe so so vast that it's unlikely that a God created it because it's a massive waste of space.
    b) Yet, I suspect that if the world were much smaller, they would probably say that it's unworthy of the God we Christians proclaim (i.e. a transcendant, great, powerful and glorious one).

    5 a) The Privileged Planet hypothesis fails because it makes its conclusion based on a sample of one (planet). Therefore it's no evidence for design or God.
    b) Because of the multiverse (world ensemble) theory, any possible world may eventually (even inevitably) come into existence and therefore there's no need for a Creator to account for the amazing (but merely) apparent design in the universe.

  2. 6 a) Advocates for the fine-tuning the universe, solar system, earth (etc.) have weak imaginative powers because they can't imagine/envision a totally different kind of lifeform (or of evolutionary processes) because they are stuck on seeing life in terms of what they have seen.
    b) Christians take too much liberty in their use of imagination (or too readily appeal to mystery) to resolve Bible contradictions, or theological paradoxes/antinomies (e.g. Trinity, theodicy, incarnation etc.).

    7a) Christians readily appeal to mystery to resolve or accept problems in their worldview.
    b) Even though there are many unknowns when it comes to how life arose, as improbable as it is, we know that it must have happened, and chance had a part in it.

    8 a) God cannot exist because he has no observable substance/being, weight, power, inertia, mass, will.
    b) Life occured by "chance" (even though chance itself has no being, weight, mass, inetia, will, or power) [using definition #6].

    Note: The word "chance" can refer to (among other things) 1. mathematical probability, 2. randomness, 3. our own ignorance of the conditions of a situation, 4. coincidences, 5. metaphysical contingent events, 6. power or force like luck, or fate, or fortune. Careful scientists usually use the word in the senses of 1-3. Sloppy scientists or common folk equivocate or use the wrong sense of the word "chance" in various contexts.

    9 a) The Bible is too complex to understand. If God has written it, it would have been more easy to understand.
    b) The Bible is too simple or too child-like to believe. If God had written it, it would have been more complex and intricate. Or it's unbelievable because written by, and in the context of, ignorant and ancient peoples in an agrarian and superstitious society.

  3. 10 a) Christians are illogical and overly emotional.
    b) Calvinists are too logical and don't have basic empathy.

    10 a) If there were a creative God, then there should have been much more life in the universe/solar system than we find.
    b.) If we found much more life in the universe, that would be evidence of evolution and how easily it can get started. Therefore it would count against the idea that life on Earth is specially made by God.

    11 a) Reality is too perfectly ordered that something like pantheism must be true.
    b) Reality is too imperfect that a wise God (with the "omni" attributes) couldn't have created it.

    12 a) The loving God of the Bible, if he existed, wouldn't send anyone to hell. Or God is too strict.
    b) The God of the Bible is too gracious because even a Hitler could go "scot-free" if he sincerely repented of his sins and believe on Christ. Or God is not strict enough.

    13 a) Christianity is a mercenary religion. Christians do good because they want to be rewarded by God.
    b) Christianity is morally abominable because it teaches that salvation is by grace and so encourages slack morals.

    14 a) Penal substitution is unjust, and we want justice.
    b) The God of the Bible is too just. Why can't He just let things slide?

  4. 15 a) Salvation by grace is morally abhorent.
    b) Yet sometimes the same people who say the above have no problem with the government doling out vast amounts of money to helpe EVEN THOSE who make no effort themelves to better their lives.

    16 a) There are no moral absolutes.
    b) Christianity is wrong or evil because of the things God allegedly did/does or required/requires or commanded/commands of human beings.

    17 a) People should have the right to believe whatever they want, and practice what they believe (think of the rhetoric used by those in the Gay Rights movement). We should be tolerant of all people and beliefs.
    b) Some people shouldn't be allowed to practice what they believe, not should their beliefs be tolerated or respected (e.g. Christians, pedophiles, rapists, or anyone who they disagree with) [notice the double standard].

    18 a) Humans are smart enough to determine/recognize right from wrong (or true and false) for themselves.
    b) Human by nature are driven by motives they usually don't understand or can control. They make decisions based on feeling, emotion and preference rather than for rational reasons.

    19 a) It's unfair for God to judge people for not having enough evidence for His existence.
    b) People generally have enough moral sense that they don't need the Bible to tell them what's right and wrong [yet, often their morals are similar to those of the Bible and they freely admit they don't perfectly live up their morals].

    20 a) Judgements like those executed on Sodom and Gomorrah display a bloodthirsty God who delights in and looks forward to punishing his creatures whenever He can.
    b) The God of the Bible is unjust because he allows certain crimes to continue to happen without punishing the guilty immediately. And we all know that justice delayed, is justice denied.

  5. Some words I misspelled because I rushed in typing or because I don't know how to spell them.


  6. Some words I misspelled because I rushed in typing or because I don't know how to spell them.

    cognitive, hypocrisy, transcendent, inertia, abhorrent, themselves

  7. A better proofread (and expanding/more elaborated) version can be read at my blog --->HERE<---