Intelligent Design Has a Mechanism

Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design

There’s never been any doubt about the preference for mysticism displayed by the Discovery Institute. It’s been unmistakable from the way they promote their “theory” by conducting revivals at churches and bible colleges. Aside from obvious clues like that, they’ve pretty much admitted it. We’ve discussed this before in Discoveroids: All Theology, All the Time. If you needed further evidence, you’ll see it today.

For the second day in a row (yesterday we wrote The Discoveroids’ Intellectual Torture Chamber), the Discoveroids have a post by Michael Denton. He’s a Discoveroid “senior fellow” and the author of the 1985 creationist classic, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and more recently Privileged Species (Amazon listing).

Denton’s latest at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Aristotle Rediscovered: What Exactly Is the “Mechanism” for Intelligent Design? That’s a good question, because a while back, Michael Behe admitted that intelligent design “theory” has no mechanism — see Behe Admits He Has No Theory. After that, Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist, made the same admission — see The Mechanism of Intelligent Design.

Now Denton is going to address this glaring defect in the Discoveroids’ “theory.” You may find it a bit mind-boggling, but we think it’s funny. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us. He begins with yet another question put to him by the Discoveroids’ founder and Chairman, Bruce Chapman, whom we call “Chappy.” Chappy asked Denton:

Darwinists often ask what they seem to regard as a killer question: If there is intelligent design, what is the mechanism for it? Of course it’s possible to reply that the question is intended as a trap — which it often is — or the result of faulty thinking, a “category error,” and that what ID does is not to identify a mechanism but rather the existence of agency. I’m not sure that suffices, though. What do you suggest?

Chappy asks good questions. Is Denton equal to the task? We shall see. Here’s what he says:

As I see it, at least part of the answer must involve a return to the pre-Darwinian typological view of nature and the conception that the entire tree of life and all its constituents types (or branches) were built into the order of things from the moment of creation and that special “laws of form” or natural agency — Aristotle’s substantial forms — have directed the course of organic evolution over the past four billion years.

Lordy, lordy. Denton thinks the answer lies in a reversion to a pre-scientific age. His reference to Aristotle’s forms confuses us. It was Plato — who was far more mystical than Aristotle — who is known for the Theory of Forms, described by Wikipedia as the notion that: “non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.” Is that going to be Denton’s mechanism for intelligent design? Let’s read on from Denton’s response to Chappy:

On such a view, the “types” (insects, mammals, man), or more specifically the ground plans or deep homologies or patterns shared by all the members of a type, would represent a finite set of changeless natural forms, as with atoms or crystals. The determining laws, the biological laws of form, would be analogous to the laws that determine forms in the inorganic world: laws of crystallography, laws of chemistry, etc. What this amounts to, of course, is a modern restatement of Aristotle’s notion of forms as active agencies in nature, responsible for the generation of the particular set of biological forms or types manifest in life on earth.

No question about it — Denton is saying that everything is a manifestation of immaterial forms. How’s that for a scientific theory? He continues:

What is the evidence that nature herself is the ultimate directive agency, that a designer’s plan was enacted via natural agency? Well, there are firstly two lines of circumstantial or indirect evidence.

Natural agency? This should be good:

There is the failure of Darwinian bottom-up explanations of the origin of the types, particularly those patterns or body plans, etc., that appear to be non adaptive. Then there is the failure to provide a convincing explanation of development in terms of a set of instructions in the genes.[T]he only available natural causal alternative account of the actualization of life’s forms in phylogeny and ontogeny is to postulate the existence of directive forces in nature, that is, laws of form that have executed a designer’s plan.

[*Groan*] It’s the same old God of the gaps argument. Creationists have been using it for centuries. Well, what did you expect — original thinking? Verifiable evidence? They don’t have any of that, so all they’ll ever talk about is the same old Oogity Boogity.

The rest of Denton’s long and tedious essay is just further elaborations on what you’ve already seen. There’s no need for us to wade through any more of it. So this is where we leave Denton — in the pre-scientific world of Platonic forms, created — of course! — by the intelligent designer. That’s their mechanism. And they’re proud of it.

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

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15 responses to “Intelligent Design Has a Mechanism

  1. LOL. Look out, supervenience is a b*tch. He obviously hasn’t thought this through. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising.

  2. Our Curmudgeon observes

    That’s their mechanism. And they’re proud of it.

    Indeed. One might even say their mechanism is Ineluctably Perplexed

  3. That’s a mechanism? So the great intellectual world of creationism claims as its basis a collection of myths and fables and philosophical musing from a long pre-scientific societies. And, as keithnoback points out, they sure don’t think much. Wouldn’t want to strain those marvelous brains, would they.

  4. Charles Deetz ;)

    The mechanism seems to be obfuscation. The designer used it first, the DI is stuck using it for their designed system, too.

  5. The mechanism is based on the premise that life is natural to Earth. Which was discussed in the last topic. That, despite such supposed laws as the Conservation of Information, the Creationist version of Thermodynamics, Bigogenesis, far from life needing something supernatural, nature is fine tuned for life on Earth.

  6. The law of forms he’s talking about is called Gestalt or Gestalten (plural) and is usually associated with Kant and Goethe. The idea that Gestalten make evolution impossible– because Darwinism requires intermediate forms, but intermediates between Gestalten are impossible by definition– was beaten to death by Nazi philosopher Houston Stewart Chamberlain in his book “Kant”, specifically the “Plato” chapter, circa 1905. Very old, very German idea that never made any testable predictions, so Darwinism ran it over and left it for dead a century ago.

    The Discovery Institute IDiots are just trying to revivify century-old German philosophies. Which contributed to Nazism, but that’s another story.

    I am reminded of Huxley’s criticism of the “vital force” as an explanation of biology: it is like saying you have explained the properties of water by attributing them to its “aquosity.” Making up words is not finding an explanation.

    Why are biological forms similar in some ways and different in others? Oh, they are created by the “laws of form.” Oh great, thanks for clearing that up.

  7. ^ Diogenes

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    ^ Diogenes rocks!

  9. So he says forms but I hear kinds. Well, actually I hear cow droppings but you know what I meam.

  10. michaelfugate

    I am wondering if in Denton’s book he has developed a periodic table of organisms? That is what he is suggesting, no?

  11. “Forms” sound a lot like “Baramins” to me.

    With all the data available to them, perhaps the DI can produce a directory of “forms” with a list of current and extinct members of each – and the reasoning for placing each organism in a particular “form” and not some other “form”. That would be a good project for them. It would almost be like doing science.

    I don’t think the YECs have done this for their baramins yet either, so the DI has an opportunity to take the lead. (btw, auto-correct changes baramins to barmaids – one of its better choices.)

    Auto-correct reminds me… in the early days of autocorrect, an engineer at the company I worked for typed and sent a letter to NASA requesting budget for the procurement of a few additional “power pentiums” on the Space Shuttle program. Those were the latest versions of the PC at the time. Unfortunately, he was typing rapidly and apparently trusted autocorrect. The letter that was actually transmitted to NASA requested budget for a number of “power penises.” NASA did not have budget for those, sadly, but managed to cough up a little for additional computers.

    As I remember, autocorrect in those days was something you could run after typing the letter itself, and you could choose to correct all of the misspelled words with a single click. I think that is what the engineer did.

    It’s unfortunate that there is not a “logic autocorrect” which the DI could run before posting articles like this one.

  12. Doctor Stochastic

    But not as nice a mechanism as Patek Philippe has.

  13. Everything coming out of the Discovery Institute is bafflegab (or maybe since they rely on God of the Gaps, we should call it “bafflegap”?).

    The point of writing should be to communicate; to elucidate; to make complex ideas understandable. The DI takes the opposite tack. They mimic Professor Irwin Corey — they write nonsense, but they choose arcane, multisyllabic words that sound impressive and hope none of their readers actually know the meaning.

  14. For the younger ones who may not be familiar with “The World’s Foremost Authority” Prof. Irwin Corey, here’s a video clip. Not one of his best, but you can find many more on YouTube. He’s still kicking at 100 years old.
    (BTW, his name is misspelled in this clip’s title.)

  15. ” [Denton] says:

    “As I see it, at least part of the answer must involve a return to the pre-Darwinian typological view of nature and the conception that the entire tree of life and all its constituents types (or branches) were built into the order of things from the moment of creation and that special “laws of form” or natural agency — Aristotle’s substantial forms — have directed the course of organic evolution over the past four billion years.

    Four billion years? Heresy! Blasphemy! And/or a tacit admission that “young-earth” creationism is purest horse[manure].

    [T]he only available natural causal alternative account of the actualization of life’s forms in phylogeny and ontogeny is to postulate the existence of directive forces in nature, that is, laws of form that have executed a designer’s plan.”

    And now we’re into the realm of “directed” or “theistic” evolution, which, again, is quite a distance from the simple view of Genesis which young-earthers insist on. It’s not Darwinian, but it isn’t really creationism in the ordinary sense.

    Can it be that creationists are evolving?