Monday, July 21, 2008
Jake Killjoy, P.I.
There was, no surprise, a good deal of high-spirited disagreement with my assertion. One commenter, for instance, posted this little gem: “Yeah, but the problem is, agents as designers don’t really DO anything.”
To which I replied: “I’ll keep that in mind the next time I read a murder mystery. Gee, I wonder how that knife got into the murder victim’s back? Was it just an accident, or did some law of nature put it there?”
The point being, there are three modes of causation: chance, necessity, and design. To exclude design as a mode of causation, all in the name of keeping science naturalistic, is to argue that the knife either found its way into the victim’s back by accident (chance) or by some law of nature (necessity), and that we can’t even CONSIDER the possibility that the knife was deliberately PUT THERE BY SOMEONE, because “that wouldn’t be scientific.”
Such a position is obviously absurd. Yet, it is not so obvious to the “defenders” of science who work so diligently, so steadfastly, so loudly, to keep science designer-free.
The idea of a “design-free” murder mystery has been bugging me for quite some time. Just after publication of my second novel, Wonderboy and the Black Hole of Nixvy Veck, I began working on my third, with the working title The Road to Heresy.
The basic idea behind Heresy is to depict a future society in which Darwinism has been elevated to State Religion. This is no wild conjecture—-Darwinism is already our de facto state religion inasmuch as it IS a religion (an all-encompassing world view founded on a leap of faith—-that natural selection operating in tandem with random genetic mutation is all you every need to explain the diversity of life on Earth), and the only one we’re allowed to teach in our public schools.
Admittedly, though, the writing has been slow. My main problem is, as a humorist, I’m having trouble telling the story without making it all depressing and dreary. As religions go, Darwinism has the most bleak outlook of any of the mainstream religions and is of the least comfort to its faithful, because if Darwinism is true, there’s no Heaven or Hell, no afterlife, and no real purpose in living; we just live our pitifully few years on this Earth, then we die, and that’s that. So, why live to be a hundred? Why not burn your candle at both ends, have some fun, and leave a good-looking corpse? For that matter, why even have fun? If death is meaningless, so is life, and so is having fun. You might as well end your life right now and spare yourself the pain which is sure to come your way in the future: marriage, kids, mortgage, bills, taxes-—and should Barack Obama be elected president, more taxes—-followed by old age, illness, and death. Nope, not a pleasant outlook at all, and difficult subject matter for a humorist.
But a “design-free” murder mystery? Now that’s something else! Yessiree, full of comic possibilities.
So, I’ve decided to revise what I’ve written so far for Heresy and go instead with (drumroll, please!): Jake Killjoy, P.I. (Legal Dept: Jake Killjoy, P.I. and all other Jake Killjoy, P.I.-related items, including Jake Killjoy, P.I. Junior Investigator Kit, Jake Killjoy, P.I. Malibu Beach House, and Jake Killjoy, P.I. Action Figure with Kung-Fu Grip, are the exclusive property of Terry L. Mirll.)
Our Hero will be your typically acerbic Sam Spade/Mike Hammer gumshoe, downing hard liquor like lemonade and spitting in the eye of all who come his way. I haven’t decided on a title yet—-Dial D for Darwin, or Select Me Deadly, or some such. Something pithy, like the titles used in “The Venture Brothers” (from Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” lineup. My personal favorite is: “I Know Why the Caged Bird KILLS.” Now that’s pithy!)
Labels: Intelligent Design
Granted that ID is not a religion (as you say) how can Darwinism be one?
Count me among them. I don't see any coherent hypotheses, let alone a theory. Some sort of process or even some defined design "events" would be nice.
"The main claim of ID, according to Dembski and company, is that objects or events resulting from intelligent causation exhibit certain characteristics, and that these characteristics are identifiable in a scientifically rigorous way, barring the unnecessary, second-order proposition that scientific explanation, in order to BE science, must be naturalistic."
Then it is time Demski, et al. acted like scientists. Demski needs to run his complexity and information theory ideas past the appropriate people in the appropriate journals, and Behe, well, he needs to quit backpedaling and do something, anything (preferably in his field). In order to BE science, ID needs to be testable. How would you do this outside the natural realm?
I define religion as any encompassing world view incorporating a leap of faith. Anyone can look at, say, the fossil record and see that there is an apparent increase in biological complexity from the older to the newer organisms. Fair enough.
But it takes a leap of faith to claim unequivocally that the REASON for that apparent increase in complexity is NS+RM, and that ONLY. For the Darwinist, NS+RM is THE causal mechanism, and anyone who questions that notion is viewed by the Darwinist as an unbeliever.
Tell a Darwinist that there is ZERO evidence for macroevolution, and guage his reaction. It is the reaction of someone whose religion you've just insulted.
I'm not an adherent to demarcation criteria, e.g., that "real" scientific propositions are testable. Testability is a nice thing to have, but I don't see it as necessary for establishing the scientific worth of any given proposition. Evolutionary theory, for instance, isn't testable, either.
Thus there is no real merit in your claim that Dembski, Behe, et al, fail to act as scientists. And just who exactly establishes which journals are "appropriate" and which ones aren't? The claim that Dembski simply runs past the "appropriate" people in the "appropriate" journals is spurious at best. I don't care if Dembski publishes on restroom walls; what matters are his ideas, and whether or not those ideas have any merit. Any critique of Dembski incorporating WHERE he publishes is irrelevant.
Sure it is. Evolutionary theory is a mass of tested hypotheses all pointing to comon ancestry and descent with modification. Tiktaalik was found in the strata where it was predicted to be found with features that were predicted to be found. Richard Lenski tested for the ability of e coli to develop the ability to use citrate as a nutritional source. Intelligent Design can't even come up with a coherent hypothesis to test.
"And just who exactly establishes which journals are "appropriate" and which ones aren't?"
C'mon. It's not like these guys have fistfulls of rejection slips. Thay don't even try. They know very well how science separates the wheat from the chaff. Somehow they feel entitled to a place at the table without doing the work. Like it or not, you have to convince somebody else in your field. If Dembski wants to use statistics and information theory to eliminate natural processes as the causes of evolution he needs to publish in the mathematical journals, not write popular tomes for you and I. There is a process and I'm sure he's well aware of it. You may want to consider the possibility that the reason he doesn't play with the big boys is that he knows that his ideas on specified complexity are inadequate.
Intelligent Design theory is a mass of tested hypotheses all pointing to common ancestry and descent with modification by means of a teleologic process which had us in mind as an end product. Tiktaalik was found in the strata where it was predicted to be found with features that were predicted to be found, all pointing to their intelligent origin. Richard Lenski tested for the ability of e coli to develop the ability to use citrate as a nutritional source, showing the inherent logic of design. Evolutionary Theory can't even come up with a coherent hypothesis to test.
There, see? I can scientific, too.