Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Atheists And Hindus Should Form A Maya Club

Cover of "McCartney"Cover of McCartney
Hindus believe that all is illusion -- maya. The material world? Illusion.

Atheists believe something similar. They believe that the overwhelming appearance of design in nature is just that -- appearance, illusion. We are seeing something that is not there.  The heart, a pump? The brain, an information processing apparatus? The lungs, an oxygen-processor? The cell, a biological factory? DNA -- information stored, retrieved, and processed, with built-in error-correction mechanisms?  All of these appear to be purposeful.  But, purposeful artifacts entail intelligent design, so, they are not. They just look that way. They just popped into place due to the impersonal, purposeless laws of chemistry and biology along with what Paul McCartney would call "with a little luck".

I had this exchange with my blogger friend Jonathan.

I quoted Behe, "1. Life reeks of design."

He said,
No, life reeks of apparent design, which is only apparent because we as humans use our brains (a pattern deciphering brain) to attempt to fit the apparently designed into a nice neat package. It only looks designed because he thinks it does, and that goes with all intelligent design supporters.
The apparent design is only in OUR HEADS, not in nature, nor else where. 
I asked, "What is your proof for this?"

He offered, Brain Seeks Patterns Where None Exist

The brain will find patterns or images where none really exist. Relaxation exercises lowered the chances of finding a pattern that wasn't really there.

OK, here we go.

1. Jonathan, my question was not about human brains seeking patterns, my question was what proof you have that life itself (all biological mechanisms) is not really designed but only appears to be designed. How do you know it isn't designed? How do you know that there is no purpose to the universe, or to life, or to us?

2. The fact that the brain seeks patterns does not mean that designed patterns do not exist. In the case of biology, the evidence for actual design goes beyond a desperate search for a "there must be a pattern here somewhere".  To whit.

a) the functional parts of a human being I mentioned above appear to be purposeful. There really does seem to be a purpose for a heart as a pump, and blood-clotting as a life-saver. The full list would be endless. That's the external appearance of design.

b) then, look inside. We see the same kind of evidence. The cell functions as a factory. Factories have a purpose. This is just a metaphor. But...

c) DNA. DNA doesn't just look like an information-processing mechanism; it is an information-processing mechanism. It stores, retrieves, and processes instructions. It even has error-correction mechanisms. It looks purposeful.

d) The fine-tuned-for-life parameters of the universe. (I'm sure you are familiar with this argument.)   These are hugely, immensely improbable if the mere result of random, purposeless processes. How do you know these weren't purposely "set"?

How do you know the apparent design is only in "our heads" and not actual and real?


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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You come across as a person who has never read the counter-arguments to your own argument.
Of course there is a purpose to DNA. Obviously blood clotting is functional and not just for show (fun fact: humans whose blood didn't clot probably didn't live too long, hence why clotting got passed on). But if you look at DNA and how it works you would see that DNA stores all the evolutionary changes we've undergone.
So, my question to you is what kind of designer is responsible for this junk DNA? (my money would be on one who is incompetent, at best)
And although I can't exactly disprove your deist version of god, it too is unlikely. What kind of designer creates billions of failed solar systems?

You have the burden of proof and so far you've been unconvincing.

Read "The Blind Watchmaker" by R. Dawkins. It's a little outdated but its thesis still holds water. It'll show you just how flawed your argument is.

RkBall said...

Anon.

Intelligent design is the purposeful arrangement of parts.

There is no purpose where there is no mind or person. Purpose = intelligent agent.
As soon as you use the word "purpose", you lose the argument.

Perhaps you meant, the "appearance of purpose", as in "maya"?!

RkBall said...

"So, my question to you is what kind of designer is responsible for this junk DNA?

"Junk DNA" is a losing argument, getting losinger by the day. Abandon ship!

jonathan said...

Mr.Ball, I've really tried to be polite and I've really held my sarcasm at bay for the most part but your taking everything out of context and purposely playing dumb, even in light of me breaking my posts down, have turned the sarcasm switch on.

"Hindus believe that all is illusion -- maya. The material world? Illusion.

Atheists believe something similar. They believe that the overwhelming appearance of design in nature is just that -- appearance, illusion. We are seeing something that is not there. The heart, a pump? The brain, an information processing apparatus? The lungs, an oxygen-processor? The cell, a biological factory? DNA -- information stored, retrieved, and processed, with built-in error-correction mechanisms? All of these appear to be purposeful. But, purposeful artifacts entail intelligent design, so, they are not. They just look that way. They just popped into place due to the impersonal, purposeless laws of chemistry and biology along with what Paul McCartney would call "with a little luck"."

No, no, no, no, and no. If I wanted to hear irrational babble I would go into my backyard and listen to the dove jabber on about todays stock market prices. Atheists do not believe something similar. Should I say that again, if so refer to the sentence before this one and repeat if necessary. Designed is such a poor word as it infers that something intelligent created it and if that is the case then maybe it should be referred to as incompetently designed, or the designer as the Incompetent Designer. When we look at a heart we do see a pump. We see it as a pump only because that is the concept we have attached to it to understand it and to translate this concept of the heart and its functions better to other individuals, so that they can then understand the concept of a heart. The heart does nothing other than its function of moving fluid through it and moving fluid through our entire circulatory system. It doesn't serve as the foundation of morals, or emotions. You don't feel with your heart. To think otherwise would be irrational. Now, you see the heart as more than a pump, as a designed feature to keep us alive and possibly that it is designed perfectly. I see it as a multitude of gradual steps, each step adapting and changing to better suit the survival of the organism in its current environment.

As for the brain being an information processing apparatus. I really do loathe when people refer to it as such a device because an information processing apparatus, in todays modern world, is completely digital where as a brain is analog. It doesn't go about the same processes of calculations and it definately doesn't store memories in nearly the same fashion as a hard drive does. If anything the brain should be called a misinformation processor and if you wish me to divulge further into that I will, but for now I will continue.

jonathan said...

Part 2:

You keep going on with individual organs and organelles which is equivalent to the creationist throwing a book with all of their questions at me and demanding that I "Answer this now and tell me why, how, when, and where it could have happened or your argument is WRONG and I the CREATIONIST WIN!" Organisms, organs, organelles, and any biologic substance are all very complicated and require time to explain and to get the concept of their workings across. If you wish to learn about a lot of things pick only ONE to start with and then go from there. Throwing a bunch of questions out tells me that you really don't want to learn, and that you just want to attempt to confound or confuse the person who is attempting to explain something to you, rather than seriously learning it.
Nothing just popped into place as you infer so quit claiming this atroucious lie as something that atheists believe. I've explained to you the processes of abiogenesis and how life could have began. If you didn't understand them that's fine and I'll try to explain it better, but quit claiming that we believe "something from nothing" when you yourself have no concept of what is really going on.

"1. Jonathan, my question was not about human brains seeking patterns, my question was what proof you have that life itself (all biological mechanisms) is not really designed but only appears to be designed. How do you know it isn't designed? How do you know that there is no purpose to the universe, or to life, or to us?"

Well Mr.Ball you should probably be more specific about what the question you were asking was. When I'm talking about the brain making patterns where there is none, and you then ask where's your proof, I'm going to give you evidence on the brain making patterns where there is none, NOT apparent design. Now for your question. You can easily deduce that nothing was designed by a designer by all of the inconsistencies and problems of the 'design' in question. It only appears to be designed because you want and need an answer to how it could be so, and your brain helps facilitate that by creating what you call a designer which results in an answer that is comfortable and logical only to you, despite the various other evidences that show otherwise. If you wish for me to get into 'design' failures I'd be happy to. I've stated before that purpose and meaning are subjective, that each individual makes their own purpose and meaning, so the universe has no purpose or meaning; it just exists because it is not sentient.

"2. The fact that the brain seeks patterns does not mean that designed patterns do not exist. In the case of biology, the evidence for actual design goes beyond a desperate search for a "there must be a pattern here somewhere". To whit."

No, it's not only that the brain seeks patterns, BUT it CREATES patterns were none exist. I've said this before and yet you misunderstand again. I could understand if I said it verbally to you, but written out, I mean come on man. I expect better than that from you. Read this, if you're more interested in it I can get you the journal that the article is referring to:

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/10/03/control-study.html

jonathan said...

Part 3:

"a) the functional parts of a human being I mentioned above appear to be purposeful. There really does seem to be a purpose for a heart as a pump, and blood-clotting as a life-saver. The full list would be endless. That's the external appearance of design."

It appears designed, so what. That does not mean it was purposefully designed by a creator. Have you thought that maybe these apparently designed organs and clotting mechanisms are the result of evolution doing what it does? Not all organisms have a heart to live, look at plants, or bacteria for example. For those of us in the animal kingdom we have a heart which serves as an organ to push blood through our body. It all looks like designed but it is only the result of what ended up being the most effecient or the most propegated.

"b) then, look inside. We see the same kind of evidence. The cell functions as a factory. Factories have a purpose. This is just a metaphor. But..."

Yes, they have functions, again so what. This is the product of evolution. These cells do act like factories, but once again for them to be designed by a designer WHY WOULD THEY FAIL IN EXTREME WAYS LIKE CHERNOBYL?

"c) DNA. DNA doesn't just look like an information-processing mechanism; it is an information-processing mechanism. It stores, retrieves, and processes instructions. It even has error-correction mechanisms. It looks purposeful."

Imagine a bearded 28 year old punching himself in the face, that's what I'm doing right now. That pain feels better than the nonsense you are attempting to get across right now. Do you even know how DNA works, or how protein manufacturing occurs and why it occurs? Please don't give me creationist garble.

"d) The fine-tuned-for-life parameters of the universe. (I'm sure you are familiar with this argument.) These are hugely, immensely improbable if the mere result of random, purposeless processes. How do you know these weren't purposely "set"?"

Now imagine that after the bearded 28 year old finished punching himself in the face he threw himself down 5 stories of stairs; hi, that's me. Can you even define what you think you're talking about? Can you tell me what these presets are and if there are any places in the universe that defy these presummed presets? I will happily wait for the answer.

"How do you know the apparent design is only in "our heads" and not actual and real?"

I can give you a list of all the biological problems with homo sapien 'design' if you wish. Or would you rather have the problems with the 'designed' Earth, or 'designed' universe. Just let me know.

Also, just to throw this into the mix since I read the comments before posting. Tell me what you know about "junk DNA" without refering to creationist gaggle baggle.

RkBall said...

Joe says --

"Aren't those anti-theists cute? They are just so darn 'scientific' they can't distinguish probable cause from their own [bias]. In summary of their position: It can not be, therefore it can not be.

Instead of opening themselves up to whole new realms of examination, inquiry and experimentation - It can not be therefore it can not be! With scientific mindsets like that we would all be living in caves eating raw carrion.

BTW the perfect design is the design that achieves the goal of the Designer not the one that meets the approval of His critics.

RkBall said...

Jonathan -- it will take me a day to get back to you.

RkBall said...

"Tell me what you know about "junk DNA" without refering to creationist gaggle baggle."

Junk DNA is a term. It was coined by scientists driven by the assumption that there is no intelligence to life and therefore the expectation that a mindless process would produce mostly junk.

It is turning out to be a darwinism of the gaps argument.

Junk DNA is getting less junky by the day. And, if you have two probabilities, engineered vs. non-engineered, every bit of DNA that turns out not to be junk is transferred from the non-engineered column to the engineered column.

And that's the way the darwinian junk DNA cookie crumbles!

RkBall said...

"Can you even define what you think you're talking about? Can you tell me what these presets are and if there are any places in the universe that defy these presummed presets? I will happily wait for the answer.

I'm going to let you stop banging your head and wait happily for a day or so -- this is worth a fresh post!

RkBall said...

"These cells do act like factories, but once again for them to be designed by a designer WHY WOULD THEY FAIL IN EXTREME WAYS LIKE CHERNOBYL?"

This is a separate issue. Lots of truly designed entities are imperfect. Toyota recalls, anyone? Also, imperfect design vs. corrupted designs.

Christian revelation, or course, deals with this issue, but that gets us 'way out of the realm science into theology.

jonathan said...

"Joe says --

"Aren't those anti-theists cute? They are just so darn 'scientific' they can't distinguish probable cause from their own [bias]. In summary of their position: It can not be, therefore it can not be.

Instead of opening themselves up to whole new realms of examination, inquiry and experimentation - It can not be therefore it can not be! With scientific mindsets like that we would all be living in caves eating raw carrion.

BTW the perfect design is the design that achieves the goal of the Designer not the one that meets the approval of His critics."

I'm just going to hit on the last part of this comment as the rest of it is complete opinion. Joe, you say that the perfect design is the design that achieves the goal of the Designer and not what the critics think it should be, so here's just two, out of the hundreds if not thousands, of the 'Designer's' perfect 'designs':

Treacher Collins Syndrome (born without a face)
Anencephaly (born without a brain)

Are we then not to criticize these 'perfect designs' if your god is true?

"Junk DNA is a term. It was coined by scientists driven by the assumption that there is no intelligence to life and therefore the expectation that a mindless process would produce mostly junk."

If I had something heavy and dense I would bludgeon myself right now, and probably do death I would imagine. That is how incorrect, laughable, infuriating and other colorful words that your understanding of what junk DNA is. I know you didn't even attempt to research what it is which is beginning to critically damage your credibility as an honest person. I'm not even going to entertain you with what it is because now I know that you do not want to know what it is, you just want to continue to THINK you know what it is.

"This is a separate issue. Lots of truly designed entities are imperfect. Toyota recalls, anyone? Also, imperfect design vs. corrupted designs.

Christian revelation, or course, deals with this issue, but that gets us 'way out of the realm science into theology."

I'm screaming at those words so loud that your non-existent god can hear me. Toyota recalls, anyone? Really, a human construct is your answer to my question? If christian revelation deals with this issue but only puts it in the realm of theology THEN WHY ARE YOU CLAIMING THAT CREATION IS A VALID SOURCE OF SCIENCE AND PROOF THAT GOD DOES EXISTS? Do you see the contradictions there?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"