The Genius of Granville Sewell

We’ve written about Granville Sewell before. He’s not a Discoveroid “fellow,” but they publish him, and Wikipedia informs us that he’s a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” petition. Perhaps the most important thing about Sewell is that he’s very keen on using the Second Law of Thermodynamics as an argument for creationism — see Discovery Institute Gives Us Their Best Argument.

He’s also highly regarded for arguing that Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore …. The last time we wrote about him was Granville Sewell — the Best Discoveroid Thinker. That was a rant against naturalism, in contrast to the superlative explanatory power of supernaturalism — oops, we mean intelligent design — which explains everything by means of the unevidenced and incomprehensible activities of a transcendent agency, i. e., a miracle.

Okay, that’s what we’re dealing with. Here’s Granville’s newest offering: What You Have to Believe to Not Believe in Intelligent Design, which appears at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. We’re told that it’s “excerpted from the new expanded edition of Granville Sewell’s book In the Beginning: And Other Essays on Intelligent Design (Discovery Institute Press).” Wow — that’s a prestigious publisher! Granville says, with bold font added by us:

Since critics often misrepresent ID, painting its advocates as a fanatical fringe group, it is important to understand what intelligent design is, and what it is not.

Yes, that is important. Granville tells us what we need to understand:

Until Charles Darwin, almost everyone everywhere believed in some form of intelligent design. The majority still do. Not just Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but almost every tribesman in every remote corner of the world drew the obvious conclusion from observing animals and plants that there must have been a mind behind the creation of living things.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

Darwin thought he could explain all of this apparent design through natural selection of random variations. In spite of the fact that there is no direct evidence that natural selection can explain anything other than very minor adaptations, his theory has gained widespread popularity in the scientific world, simply because no one can come up with a more plausible theory to explain evolution, other than intelligent design, which is dismissed by most scientists as “unscientific.”

That’s an allusion to the micro-macro mambo, which is the first item we discuss in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Granville continues:

But, in recent years, as scientific research has continually revealed the astonishing dimensions of the complexity of life, especially at the microscopic level, support for Darwin’s implausible theory has continued to weaken. Since the publication in 1996 of Darwin’s Black Box by Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, a growing minority of scientists have concluded, with Behe, that there is no possible explanation for the complexity of life other than intelligent design.

Michael Behe. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Not only is he a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow, he was the Discoveroids’ star witness in the Kitzmiller case — see Kitzmiller v. Dover: Michael Behe’s Testimony. His colleagues at Lehigh are so impressed by his brilliance that they publicly disassociated themselves from him by issuing this statement: Department Position on Evolution and “Intelligent Design”. Here’s more:

But what exactly do these “ID scientists” believe?

Whoa! We weren’t expecting that. Get ready, dear reader, because we’re about to be told what the “theory” of intelligent design says:

There is no general agreement among advocates of intelligent design as to exactly where, when, or how design was manifested in the history of life. Most, but not quite all, accept the standard timeline for the beginning of the universe, of life, and of the major animal groups. Meyer’s book focuses on the sudden appearance of most of the animal phyla in the “Cambrian explosion,” more than 500 million years ago. Many, including Michael Behe, accept common descent. Probably all reject natural selection as an adequate explanation for the complexity of life, but so do many other scientists who are not ID proponents. So what exactly do you have to believe to be an ID proponent?

Don’t keep us in suspense, Granville. Tell us! He does, but in a roundabout way:

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to state clearly what you have to believe to not believe in intelligent design. … The prevailing view in science today is that physics explains all of chemistry, chemistry explains all of biology, and biology completely explains the human mind; thus physics alone explains the human mind and all it does. This is what you have to believe to not believe in intelligent design: that the origin and evolution of life, and the evolution of human consciousness and intelligence, are due entirely to a few unintelligent forces of physics.

Okay. Moving along:

Thus you must believe that a few unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into computers and science texts and jet airplanes.

[*Groan*] He expands on that brilliant statement in his final paragraph:

If you believe that a few fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the basic particles of physics into Apple iPhones, you are probably not an ID proponent, even if you believe in God. But if you believe there must have been more than unintelligent forces at work somewhere, somehow, in the whole process: congratulations, you are one of us after all!

So there you are. It’s the tornado in a junkyard. If you think that’s an unlikely way to assemble a Boeing 747, then Granville says you’re a Discoveroid.

See also: Ellis Washington Praises Granville Sewell.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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38 responses to “The Genius of Granville Sewell

  1. With each of his postings at the Discoveroid creationist blog, ol’ Granville shows us the raw stupidity and delusion that is the “theory” of intelligent design.

  2. Until Charles Darwin, almost everyone everywhere believed in some form of intelligent design.

    Indeed, the Great White Fox, Zeus, Daffy Duck, and of the gods, et. al equally explain the origin of the universe and us. All have documented legends and myths to back up their claims of super powers. The question to Sewell, then, is how does he distinguish his real “intelligent designer” from all of these equally probable explanations and creators as all are equally probable? What test/experiment will he perform to support his assertions?

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    if you believe there must have been more than unintelligent forces at work somewhere, somehow

    So it comes down to belief? Game over, put down your cards and show us your pair of twos.

  4. Really? He so patently avoids saying what Intelligently Design is?
    There is no general agreement among advocates of intelligent design as to exactly where, when, or how design was manifested in the history of life.
    “No general agreement?” No, let’s make it clear: “No vestige of an answer and no prospect of an interest.”
    Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to state clearly what you have to believe to not believe in intelligent design.
    Yup. “Something is wrong with evolution, somehow.”

  5. Granville still doesn’t explain the “science” of intelligent design. He only describes what it is not – with a straw man argument, at that.

    When will someone actually explain how ID science works, and articulate a theory without reference to evolution? I suppose they’ll have to invent an actual science to support their beliefs, which means never.

  6. @Charles Deetz 😉
    A pair of twos would be something. A mixture of suits of 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 would be something. What they show are a some cards left over from a Taro deck.
    Minor Arcana, maybe, or how about some “Uno” cards?

  7. aturingtest

    Thus you must believe that a few unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into computers and science texts and jet airplanes.

    Wow- kinda skipped over a few steps there in the actual “prevailing view” of evolution, didn’t you, Granville?

    That’s not even a strawman; it’s a pile of straw loosely heaped in a shape nowhere near what it’s supposed to resemble.

  8. michaelfugate

    I love the fact that so many god stories reveal that many things happened by accident or through trickery. Tricksters are much more entertaining.

  9. Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to state clearly what you have to believe to not believe in intelligent design.

    I’m trying to come up with anything – even in principle – that is *best described by what its not*.

    I’ve got nothing.
    Which is apparently what they have.

  10. Doesn’t a “growing minority” imply that they are shrinking?

  11. Charles Deetz ;)

    @TomS I was trying to be generous that they would have two cards that matched. My metaphor could be well improved. You might even say they aren’t even playing the same game (or cards) as everyone else is. I do like aturingtest’s ‘pile of straw loosely heaped’ comparison.

  12. Grandvile Sewer finally reveals the Theory of Intelligent Design of Life:

    there must have been more than unintelligent forces at work somewhere, somehow, in the whole process

    Splendid! Now, shall we parse this one using the Disco’Tute’s beloved “strengths and weaknesses” schema?

  13. michaelfugate

    Given that Dembski’s design filter couldn’t distinguish between a certain sphincter and a hole in the ground and Behe’s irreducible complexity examples are easily reducible – even abiogenesis is not that worrisome, what is left? Are they going to start on atoms are “intelligently designed” next? Pretty soon they will have conceded everything to physicalism without realizing what they have given up.

  14. Megalonyx snickers: “Splendid! Now, shall we parse this one using the Disco’Tute’s beloved “strengths and weaknesses” schema?”

    I see nothing but strengths! It allies Granville with “almost every tribesman in every remote corner of the world.”

  15. Granville Sewell convincingly states, ” Not just Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but almost every tribesman in every remote corner of the world drew the obvious conclusion from observing animals and plants that there must have been a mind behind the creation of living things.”

    Why, yes, Granville, and they also drew the obvious conclusion that the Earth was flat and the Sun went around the flat Earth once each day. We have since learned a few things since those tribesmen wrote the Bible.

  16. Using Sewell’s reasoning, you could conclude that Native Americans could not have migrated from Asia since they would have had to tunnel through the molten core of the planet.

  17. Granville Sewell continues to repeat the lie — “…support for Darwin’s implausible theory has continued to weaken.”

    Here’s a quote for you, Granville —

    “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” — Joseph Goebbels

    And the Dishonesty Institute tries to link Darwin with the Nazis! Shame!

  18. retiredsciguy says:

    Granville Sewell continues to repeat the lie — “…support for Darwin’s implausible theory has continued to weaken.”

    He must be right. Sea levels are rising, and we know there’s no climate change, so the only other cause is a vast increase in the production of drool.

  19. michaelfugate

    the Earth was flat and the Sun went around the flat Earth once each day.

    Wait didn’t Helios drive his chariot of the sun across the sky each day from east to west and plunge into the earth-circling Oceanus and then swim through the world-ocean at night back to the east? Or was it Ra in his boat traveling through the sky and back through the underworld at night?

  20. “There is no general agreement among advocates of intelligent design as to exactly where, when, or how design was manifested in the history of life.”

    And there never will be.

  21. Okay, so by this account, IDiotology is the thalidomide progeny of greedy reductionism sated by a monotonously meagre diet featuring a stodgy porridge of unimaginative guesswork, soggy pseudo-explanations, and dull-witted hope for something more.

  22. TomS, it’s funny, but what I thought of on reading Charles’ comment was this Sunday’s Foxtrot.
    http://www.foxtrot.com/2015/03/15/all-decks-on-hand/
    Not so much not playing with a full deck of cards, then, as playing with whatever cards are at hand and without regard for using them sensibly.

  23. docbill1351

    I like Sewell’s definition of “intelligent design” creationism and I’ll be using if from here on: “Intelligent Design is the belief that intelligent forces worked somewhere, somehow in the whole process.”

    Abso-[edited out]ing-lutely brilliant!

  24. michaelfugate

    It’s another way of saying that intelligent design only occurred after humans evolved….

  25. @dweller42
    Thank you. It was undoubtedly an unconscious memory of that comic which was the stimulus to my thought.

  26. Since critics often misrepresent ID

    How dreadful! That sad reality probably explains why IDers never misrepresent The Theory of Evolution.

  27. “the origin and evolution of life, and the evolution of human consciousness and intelligence, are due entirely to a few unintelligent forces of physics.”
    Hey, we must grant it Mr. Sewer: this is a pretty accurate description of the scientific method. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly he doesn’t follow this path any further or he would have had to conclude that hence IDiocy is not science. Also Mr. Sewer of course neglects the inconvenient fact that that scientific method has worked pretty well last 200+ years, while IDiocy has only produced failures like the ones by eminent Michael Behe …..

  28. @docbill mentions that he likes “Sewell’s definition of ‘intelligent design’ creationism.”

    Just imagine, if the Discovery Institute got its wish and their goals in the Wedge Document were fulfilled, the intellectual progress we would make!

    Intelligent Design History: Somehow and somewhere the something important happened.

    Intelligent Design Aerodynamics: Somehow and somewhere aircraft can fly.

    Intelligent Design Law: Somehow and somewhere the defendant murdered the victim. We rest our case, your Honor.

    Intelligent Design Medicine: Somehow and somewhere you felt pain but then got better.

    Miracles all It explains everything!

  29. Yikes! Oh Wondrous Voice, Guarantor of Prosperity and Defender of the Interwebs, please do me a solid and erase that last line. I am humbled by even your virtual presence.

    [*Voice from above*] As you wish, my son.

  30. aturingtest

    Charles Deetz:

    I do like aturingtest’s ‘pile of straw loosely heaped’ comparison.

    Credit where credit is due- it’s not actually mine. I borrowed it from a young lady who posts at the International Skeptics Forum (formerly James Randi Educational Foundation’s forum), the kind of thoughtful young person who gives me hope for the future; they’re not all playing video games, jabbering on Facebook, and texting- some of them are thinking.

  31. I notice that a lot of people misrepresent ID by intimating that there is something of positive substance to it.

  32. Mike Elzinga

    This IDiot “thermodynamics argument against evolution” has been going on ever since the 1970s. It has been refuted repeatedly, yet it lives on, propped up by zombies whose defense of the “argument” reveals just how deficient their science education really is. That set of threads over at UD is an amazing display of knuckle-headed stupidity.

    Even middle school kids learn about the phases of matter, such as solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, etc. High school students in physics and chemistry learn why these phases occur when they study the physics and chemistry of atoms and molecules. They learn that electrons and protons have charge-to-mass ratios; they learn that atoms combine with other atoms in millions of ways called chemistry, of all things. IDiots know none of this stuff.

    Yet here is Granville Sewell – in the grand tradition of all IDiots before him – using junkyard parts and houses in a tornado, Scrabble letters, coins, ASCII characters, battleship parts, fishing reels, and all sorts of other inert objects as stand-ins for the properties and behaviors of atoms and molecules. You can never get an IDiot to explain why they think this is proper; they just do it, over and over again for the last 50 years.

    Even the people arguing with the IDiots over at UD get caught up in and repeat the misconceptions; and that is exactly what the IDiots always manage to accomplish when they get their opponents to adopt IDiot misconceptions and misrepresentations.

    The second law “argument” lies at the heart of all ID/creationist misunderstanding of science. It is why Dembski does what he does when he uses ASCII characters and does his “probability calculations.” This shows that every ID/creationist has the same common core of misconceptions of the most basic concepts in physics and chemistry.

    Dembski “argument” can be summarized as, “The number of trials, N, is greater than 2 raised to the 500 power, the probability per trial, p, is less than 1/2 raised to the 500 power, making Np less than 1, therefore complex molecular assemblies are impossible in the history of the universe.” That’s all there is to Dembski.

    There is no point in arguing with them to try to convince them they are wrong about thermodynamics; thermodynamics is far beyond their ability to comprehend. They don’t even understand science at the high school level; and that is not hyperbole, I’ve tested it many times.

    The grand summary of Grandville Sewell’s “compensation anti-argument” can be stated succinctly in a single sentence, “If you open the door to a room full of junk, a computer won’t self-assemble.” Boiled down to their fundamental essences, that is how stupid ID/creationist thermodynamics arguments really are.

  33. Stephen Kennedy

    Believing that all phenomenon can be explained by the four basic forces of Physics which can be tested and potentially falsified actually makes more sense than believing in an unknown, untestable intelligent designer.

    Furthermore, the Physics may be even more basic than Sewell thinks. There are actually only three basic forces since the Weak Nuclear Force and the Electromagnetic force were unified by Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. There are indications that it might be possible to unify the Electro-Weak force with the Strong Nuclear Force which holds the nucleus of an atom together, though I am aware that both Kent Hovind and Ken Ham are convinced the nucleus is held together by Jesus.

    Finding a unified force that includes Gravity, which would reduce the number of forces in Physics to one, has proven very difficult but work continues.

  34. michaelfugate

    One of the things IDists like to do is use analogies to human design, yet also think the designer “poofed” things into existence – something humans can’t do. Paley’s watch example doesn’t account for the long evolution of watch design and manufacture. But even in Genesis you get a whiff of human design trial and error when God is making a mate for Adam and when he hits the reset button for the flood and Babel. It is pretty clear they have no idea what they are talking about.

  35. Until Charles Darwin, almost everyone everywhere believed in some form of intelligent design.

    Until Giordano Bruno, Copernicus and Galileo, almost everyone everywhere believed the sun and everything else orbited the Earth.

  36. @Mike Elzinga
    The idea that life is created because it is a perpetual motion machine goes back at least as far as Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

    “The motion of the heart is caused by the nervous juices mixing with the blood, in the muscular part thereof; and these nervous juices are both derived from the blood, and forced into the muscular part of the heart, by by the motion of the heart itself, the texture of the containing vessels, and perhaps by the pulsation of the arteries upon the nerves of the brain. Here now, the heart is the cause of the motion of the blood in the arteries; and the motion of the blood in the arteries urging their juices through which is a plain circulation of mechanical powers, a perpetual motion, a thing unknown to nature! An epicurean cannot contrive a water machine, wherein the water should move the machine, and the machine move the water, and the same water continually return in a circle to move the machine.
    Great God, it is thy immediate influence on the powers of nature in me that keeps my heart in motion.”
    Of Insects: Essay 27 of
    The Christian Philosopher A Collection of the Best Discoveries in Nature With Religious Improvements

  37. Mike Elzinga

    @ TomS:

    The idea that life is created because it is a perpetual motion machine goes back at least as far as Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

    Yes; there are a number of other old “theories” that go back even farther to the Greeks and to various ideas like animism, vitalism, and irritability, which was one of five “vital forces” that German biologist Carl Friedrich Kielmeyer thought was acting on living beings, as well as a number of others.

    The thermodynamic argument of the ID/creationists goes back to Henry Morris who, in turn, may have obtained the idea from A.E. Wilder-Smith. It is a particular bastardization of the second law and entropy that asserts that everything comes all apart and decays; therefore there must be some kind of “intelligent intervention” that assembles and holds things – especially the molecules of life – together.

    All of ID/creationism is founded on the set of misconceptions and misrepresentations that go along with this “argument;” and the ID/creationists don’t know their own pedigree – or, if they do, are deliberately trying to obscure that pedigree.

    There isn’t any pseudoscience quite like ID/creationism; and their arguments are unique and peculiar to the sectarian minds behind it. It ultimately has to conform to their sectarian view of the Christian bible. All scientific concepts are bent and broken to fit sectarian dogma; and they even instruct each other and young kids on how to do this when reading a textbook. I’ve seen their instructions.

  38. “Sewell’s Folly.” How do they come up with this crap?