The Objectivist View of Intelligent Design

With the release of Atlas Shrugged, part one, we thought it might be appropriate to present the Objectivist view of the intelligent design movement.

We found a video presentation at the website of the Ayn Rand Center: Creationism in Camouflage: The “Intelligent Design” Deception. It’s by Keith Lockitch, about whom we know nothing except that he has a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin. The video was recorded a few years ago — on 17 November 2005. That’s before the Kitzmiller decision, so this is a bit dated.

There’s some introductory text before the video:

For decades creationists have sought to replace evolution with the book of Genesis. But defenders of evolution have consistently prevailed in the schools and the courts of law. This struggle for intellectual survival has led to the evolution of a new “species” of creationist, better adapted to its inhospitable environment. The new creationism goes by the name “intelligent design” and poses a greater danger than old-style creationism.

Quite so. Here’s the rest of it:

In this talk Dr. Lockitch will examine the intelligent design movement focusing on its similarities and differences with standard creationism. By hiding its religious essence behind a cloak of pseudo-science, the movement seeks to make itself more palatable to intellectuals and the general public. And because today’s academics — including the most passionate and vocal defenders of evolution — have failed to offer rational answers to intelligent design’s most fundamental arguments, the doors of our colleges and schools are ominously open to primitive mysticism masquerading as science.

The video runs for an hour. It starts slowly with a description of the Institute and a pitch for contributions. Then Lockitch spends a lot of time explaining evolution. You may want to scoot past all that to around the 20-minute mark where he begins talking about the controversy with creationists. It’s an historical treatment, starting with the old-time bible-based creationists, which morphs into creation science, and finally (at about the 30-minute mark) into intelligent design. Most of you know this stuff, but it’s a good intro for a novice. At the end there’s a question and answer period.

If nothing else, you can comment about the movie. Hey, why not?

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “The Objectivist View of Intelligent Design

  1. Gabriel Hanna

    Creationists and Objectivists, the matter and antimatter of reality-denying cults.

  2. Curmudgeon: “Most of you know this stuff, but it’s a good intro for a novice.”

    Lemme guess that it’s like 99.99% of the “ID is creationism in disguise” articles that I read. Which are technically correct, but IMO address only 50% of the issue. Please surprise me by telling me that I’m wrong, and that this is the rare one that notes how the inability of anti-evolution activists to agree on whether the evidence, despite “creative” cherry-picking, converges on a particular YEC or OEC “theory,” forced a “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when or how” policy – before the courts forced a “don’t ask, don’t tell whodunit” policy.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    @FrankJ: I don’t know or care what the Objectivist take on evolution vs ID is, because the Objectivists are ALSO enamored of pseudoscience for ideological reasons.

    Objectivists are a Cult of Reason. One reason I push back on SC’s equating “science” with “reason”. Reason and science can work with each other, but reason can work against science was well–which is what Objectivists and cdesign proponentsists both use reason to do.

  4. Gabriel Hanna says:

    Reason and science can work with each other, but reason can work against science was well–which is what Objectivists and cdesign proponentsists both use reason to do.

    I constantly see the Discoveroids attempt to simulate reason in their attacks on science, but reason can and does refute them. I’m not familiar with the Objectivists’ misuse of reason.

  5. Gabriel Hanna

    @SC:I constantly see the Discoveroids attempt to simulate reason in their attacks on science, but reason can and does refute them.

    Reason is argument from postulates. Science uses reason but also gets postulates from experiments. If you think experience is fallible, you can use reason to deny reality, as Plato and Hegel and other rationalist philosophers did, and as Discoveroids and theologians do. Their shtick is using reason to discover the “true” reality that lies beneath, or beyond, fallible human experience. To say that what they do is not “reason” is to deny the meaning of the word. Reason and science are different things, just as science and math are different things.

    Objectivists have the same problem with relativity and quantum mechanics as Christians have with evolution. Some Objectivists think that the conflicts of physics and Objectivism can be reconciled, others think that they can’t, and they argue with each other about it. For both groups Objectivism is paramount, but some wish to use modern physics to bolster Objectivism and some want to deny modern physics altogether.

  6. Gabriel Hanna says: “Reason is argument from postulates”

    I see where you’re going. Yes, Plato used deductive reasoning, and pulled his premises out of his imagination. Reason and science aren’t interchangeable terms.

  7. Gabriel Hanna

    @SC: Yes, Plato used deductive reasoning, and pulled his premises out of his imagination.

    I find that he relies heavily on analogies and reification, not so much that he just makes stuff up.

  8. @Gabriel Hanna:

    I too don’t know or care what the Objectivist take on evolution vs ID. But I would like to know if the particular author addressed the other ~50% of the “evolution” of “scientific” creationism into ID that so few critics consider important. BTW, I fully appreciate that “cdesign proponentsists” is really all that’s needed to expose ID as a scam. And that anyone who requires more convincing than that is beyond hope. Nevertheless, the “rest of the story” only goes to show how the devious the activists were even before the courts forced them to be. Ironically, one of the best criticisms I read of the “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when or how” strategy came from a classic OEC group (RTB). As wrong as they are about the science they at least have the guts to call a weasel a weasel, even if it’s bad for the big tent.

  9. Reason only fails insofar as the premises are wrong or the logic flawed.

    Why, even Auntie Ayn said : “Check your premises.”

    Sadly, the Objectivists do trip up on things like QM. I’m not sure why — perhaps Ayn never really had it explained to her her well enough to grasp it.

    Still, it’s nice to know the movie of Part I of her book is out, and, unlike “Expelled,” it is INCREASING the number of screens it is playing on after opening.

    Free market; free minds….

  10. Gabriel Hanna

    Reason only fails insofar as the premises are wrong…

    Ah hah! Premises are things assumed. If we assume that reality is not accurately reflected by our senses, just how do you go about proving (or disproving) that?

    Auntie Ayn said : “Check your premises.”

    That’s not the whole quote: it’s when you find yourself in a contradiction, and your logic is correct, check your premises. Contradictory premises lead to illogical results even if the logic is perfect; if you assume A and assume not-A, anything follows.

    it’s nice to know the movie of Part I of her book is out, and, unlike “Expelled,” it is INCREASING the number of screens it is playing on after opening.

    Having read the book and been underwhelmed I will pass on the movie. If you want a libertarian message, “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” is better written, more engaging, and MUCH shorter, as well as more philosophically sound.

    Free market; free minds….

    Preach it, brother. From your lips to God’s ears.

  11. Longie says: “Why, even Auntie Ayn …”

    Seeing as how you’re one of those Randite types, here’s a link so you can follow the success of the film: Atlas Shrugged Box Office Results.

  12. Ah hah! Premises are things assumed. If we assume that reality is not accurately reflected by our senses, just how do you go about proving (or disproving) that?

    Premises, postulates, or axioms are never proven; they are taken as true for the sake of argument.

    If reality really isn’t accurately reflected by our senses, then it would follow that we can’t trust instruments, because ultimately we must trust our senses to tell us what the meter reading is. And it that’s the case we might as well pack it in and go live in caves, as no rational path is left.

    thus, I use the practical argument and say it is of no utility to assume we cannot sense reality (plus, experience — or dare I say: empirical results — are consistent with sensory reliability, at least under certain circumstances. When my speedometer reads zero, my senses sense no motion. When it reads 95, a blue light appears behind me and a guy in uniform tries to give me ticket. These are repeatable, albeit expensive, experiments.)

    OTOH, if we CAN sense reality, then the games afoot, and we can read our meters, and use reason to fathom a better understanding of that reality, and build radar detectors to ward of the speeding tickets.

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy AS; I’m re-reading it at present. Yes, it is tedious at times, repetitive, and the characters are cartoonish, and the dialogue stilted for a modern ear. But it’s the message that matters most.

    In the end, it’s just another flavor of libertarianism (which would make a true Objectivist mad with rage if they were to read my remarks).

    I’ve heard good things about Heinlein, but never read him. I’m just not that big a fan of sci-fi.

  13. Seeing as how you’re one of those Randite types …

    I’ve been accused of being “randy,” but never “Randite”…..

  14. Longie says:

    I’ve heard good things about Heinlein, but never read him. I’m just not that big a fan of sci-fi.

    Darn, that’s like saying “I’ve heard good things about Shakespeare, but …” Hey, “Harsh Mistress” is a libertarian revolution set on the Moon. It’s no more SF (except for the lunar setting) than Gulliver’s Travels was about travel.

  15. Well I missed the memo saying that objectivism had to be a set of dogmas. I always thought dogmas were better left to religions. But heck, if we vote conservative it means automatically that we are antiabortion, creationists, homophobic, and against protected sex. You know, for any inclination, it is either a whole package or nothing. Let the thinking by yourself out of it.

  16. Gabriel Hanna

    And it that’s the case we might as well pack it in and go live in caves, as no rational path is left.

    Begging the question. You’ve defined reason as attempts to make sense of experience. Rationalists think they can understand reality without sensory experience, such as through Euclidean geometry and other mathematics.

  17. “Well I missed the memo saying that objectivism had to be a set of dogmas.”

    Memo? Have you met any actual “Objectivists”? It’s a cult. It has dogmas and sectarian splits just like religious cults. Jerome Tucille’s It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand is a good introduction.