"And the trouble is / We don't know who we are instead."

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Google Sightseeing

Site of the Day: Google Sightseeing.

This site makes me think of Google's Apple-esque nature. Like Apple's products, Google's products actually make people smile. On the flipside, Microsoft's products rarely seem to have this effect.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

Intelligent Design

Have been reading Intelligent Design by William Dembski. I was initially unimpressed with his formulation what he calls the 'complexity-specification' criteria—a method for detecting design. It seemed to still boil down to a matter of probability—the razor's edge argument redux ("everything is so perfectly tuned, and the odds are very small that this could have happened by chance, therefore a Higher Power must have coordinated these circumstances 'just so'"). Any argument based upon probability can be easily be shot down with: "So what? That doesn't mean it didn't happen."

At least one part of Dembski's argument pushes against this quick rebuttal with the notion that biological, psychological, and astronomical sciences either do attribute or seek to attribute intelligence to phenomena when they portray an observable, detachable pattern. If a rat makes 100 correct turns in a maze, psychologists will say, scientifically, not as a hypothesis, but as fact, that the 'rat has learned the maze.' And there is a pattern that, if found, SETI researchers are willing to deem as caused by an intelligent agent.

Yet there is some chance, however small, that the rat simply 'got lucky.' And there is also some chance, however small, that the pattern received by transmission is structured but nevertheless random and unintelligent, is there not?

Why then, if these same levels of complexity and patterns can be shown to exist in human life, can we not also rightly—scientifically, ascribe our existence as the result of intelligent agency (design) as well, and not simply chance?

There is even a chance—infinitesimal but nevertheless real, that you are not in fact sitting where you think you are as you read this. The exact position of the electrons that whirl around the atomic nuclei that compose your body are not definitely known . . . but science will nevertheless assume that you are where you think you are and operate on that assumption.

Why, then, should we be willing to assume that human beings are the result of an evolutionary process with an even smaller chance of having occurred, if we can find the same type of intelligent, designed patterns in nature?