Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens think this question, typical of college or high school freshmen, is an unanswerable retort to all arguments from design. Michael Behe disposes of this purile, philosophically naive objection in short order.


maurile said...

Dawkins and Hitchens don't think "Who made God?" refutes every pro-design argument. They correctly think it refutes Aquinas-like arguments along the order of "The universe is really complex, and all complex things must have a designer; therefore the universe must have a designer." This argument is self-refuting because the designer is posited to be complex, and thus -- if the designer has no prior designer -- the supposition that all complex things must be designed is contradicted.

That doesn't mean nothing was designed, or that design can never be inferred. Some things obviously were designed -- although Behe has failed to come up with an objective way to define "irreducible complexity" that implies design.

RKirk said...

The argument from design put forward by Behe is that the complexity of biological entities is "irreducible" to something like a vast compilation of simple, random mutations over time. Molecular biology with its vastly oompex DNA codes, the area of Behe's expertise, leaves one with two basic alternatives in terms of origin--either these vast codes arose through random processes (Dawkins' Blind Watchmaker) or they arose because of some design that is implicit within the "laws of nature." The latter option is consistent with the idea of a "designer"--at least of the Aristotelian/Thomistic variety.

If one asks "who designed THIS designer" one is asking a question on the same level as the question that apologists like Hitchens and Dawkins never ask--where do the "laws of nature" come from or "matter"? The answers to this unasked question are 1) I don't know and 2) They just are.

What makes Behe's "I don't knows" superior to those of Hitchens and Dawkins is that the irreducible complexity to which Behe points does not appear to be derivable from teleologically bereft "laws of nature" working on "matter" (whatever that term means nowadays). Such complexity is, of course, derivable from a process which is teleological. Where that primal teleological process came from ends with the same answers as those to the question about the origin of a blind process.

What Dawkins and Hitchens ignore is that they can no more explain the existence of the "laws of nature" and "matter" than theists can explain the existence of God. Dawkins and Hitchens assume, however, "on faith" that the basic naturalistic assumptions of biological science MUST explain all life, including its molecular sub-structure. Unfortunately for them, as more and more is learned about this sub-structure, it turns out to be the polar opposite of the "simple" protoplasmic stuff that Darwin assumed could be shocked into life via some lightning bolt. Thus the idea that complexity is a composite of simple, unplanned (ateleological) elements becomes implausible--even intellectually preposterous (but for the psychological urge to do away with teleology in life and to substitute instead personal willfulness.)

RKirk said...

Dr. Cornelius Hunter's new book, SCIENCE'S BLIND SPOT, elaborates on the aforementioned point about philosophical naturalism and science.