Klinghoffer — The Designed Universe

This is really grand. Our adventure begins with an article at the website of National Public Radio by Marcelo Gleiser, a Brazilian physicist and astronomer who is currently Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College. His article is Moving From Creation Of The Cosmos To Human Life, which says, with our bold font:

A few years ago, I presented a lecture at an astrobiology conference where I explored the connections between the universe and life, including intelligent life.


In short, the four ages are: the physical, the chemical, the biological and the cognitive. Although they can be arranged chronologically from the Big Bang onwards, they are still ongoing; they don’t end, their boundaries being somewhat fluid. The physical age goes from the Big Bang to the formation of the first stars, when the universe was around 200 million years, or so, old. Before this first time, there were no chemical elements to speak of, only the lightest ones, forged in the first minutes of cosmic expansion: hydrogen, helium, lithium and some of their isotopes.

As the first stars formed, they lived their short lives to generate heavier chemicals and new stars, in a cycle of creation and destruction that still goes on today. These stellar life cycles create the elements of the Periodic Table. The stuff you have in your body — the calcium in your bones, the iron in your blood — are the remains of stars long gone. That this star stuff got organized to the point of becoming animated, thinking matter is nothing short of wonderful.


The biological age gets started here and, potentially, even before this in other spots across this galaxy and, of course, across other galaxies in the cosmos. For one thing unites all of these processes, the fact that the laws of physics and chemistry are the same all over. This makes it plausible, but not necessary, for life to be a repetitive phenomenon across space.


That life here evolved to generate a species with cognitive awareness is almost surprising. But, hey, here we are!


In any case, the four ages are all interrelated — and if we worked here, who knows what’s out there? We can only find out if we look.

That’s a big excerpt, but it’s a good article. Each “age” generates more complexity and therefore more possibilities, climaxing (as far as we know) with life — and finally intelligent life. It’s a good way to think of things.

As you might imagine, that article caught the attention of the Discovery Institute. Their response to it at their creationist blog was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. His post is titled Understatement? Physicist Finds “Cognitive Awareness,” as a Product of Evolution, “Almost Surprising”, in which he refers to and quotes a bit from Gleiser’s article and then says, with bold font added by us:

What he [Marcelo Gleiser] doesn’t say is that each of these “ages” is the focus of a phase of evident intelligent design, explicated by ID advocates.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! He links to and quotes from several Discoveroid articles, which we’ll ignore, and then tells us:

As understatements, Gleiser’s formulations are equaled — no, topped — by his next sentence: “That life here evolved to generate a species with cognitive awareness is almost surprising.” Get that. It’s “almost surprising,” but not quite.

Maybe it’s not surprising to us because such things are comprehensible as the result of natural processes. Ah, but Discoveroids see things differently. Let’s read some more from Klinghoffer’s powerful article:

That the universe evolved from not even nothing, not even a vacuum, in such a way as to produce a thoughtful scientist coding his words in the English language, weighing the history of the cosmos for a readership of fellow carbon-based life forms able to decode the characters that form his article, which they receive over the Internet, and consider for themselves the quality of his ideas — this falls just a hair short of coming as a surprise to Dr. Gleiser.

Unlike Gleiser — who must be a godless fool! — Klinghoffer finds this to be not merely surprising, but quite impossible — but for the benevolent intervention of the Discoveroids’ mystical designer — blessed be he! — without whose meddling nothing would exist. He finishes his essay with this:

I don’t mean to be hard on him. I can only imagine the pressure in the academic science world to downplay the wonder and astonishment at such a result — Gleiser himself, not to mention every other human being — coming about by the interaction of blind, dumb, undirected forces alone. When you are treading so close to the perilous frontier of intelligent design, you choose your words with all caution.

So there you are. Like all creationists, Klinghoffer gazes at the universe, slips into an impenetrable mental fog, commences to drool, and “understands” it all as the obvious handiwork of a supernatural magician. That’s their “scientific theory,” and they’re furious that the scientific world doesn’t agree with them.

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

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11 responses to “Klinghoffer — The Designed Universe

  1. > “I can only imagine the pressure in the
    > academic science world to downplay the
    > wonder and astonishment at such a result.”
    The reason Klingon can only imagine here is because he’s not a part of the academic world – not even close. If he were, he’d know that there is no such “pressure” at all. I’m in academia and no one pressures me in any way about anything.

    This is a free Universe – everyone is free to display wonder and amazement about anything they wish. Or not.

  2. Actually, klingy, you don’t need much imagination at all. There are comments made over the years and decades about the wonder and astonishment of the world around us . . . and many of them made by scientists! It does take imagination to dream up this ‘pressure to downplay’ since the many scientists have obviously never felt such pressure.

    But the same can’t be said in your little corner of the world. How about that Dembski re-canting his flood ideas to save his job at the Seminary? No pressure, sure none to reveal the underlying motivations of the DI, like George Weber, right? If you don’t play the company line right, you are gone! That’s not imagined pressure, like your claim.

    This is nothing more than another straw-man argument, created by klingy so he can insinuate that scientists are incapable of seeing the wonder in the world and claim some sort of Pyrrhic victory. Try windmills next time, klingoxite, those piles of straw have been abused to dust.

  3. Beneath all the ‘wonder and astonishment’ Klinghoffer declares is being played down, there’s still the question of evidence for creation. It took 8/9 billion years for life to arrive; that’s a little bit slow for creation but bang on for the observed evolution. He harps on about Dr Gleiser downplaying the miracle of it all by implying that it’s a scientific conspiracy to hide the hand of god, when in reality he himself is doing the conspiring to contort the meaning of what was said to his own favoured narrative.

  4. He can imagine. Imagining by projection.

  5. I’d be far more excited if Klinghoffer were arguing for a Designer Universe, with trees by Calvin Klein, mountains by Armani, marsupials by Yves Saint Laurent, &c &c…

  6. Yes, one would think that were God proud of its creation said God would stamp its name on everything – a nice subtle signature in the righthand corner of a sunset?

  7. ID/creationists demonize others routinely without provocation; these judgments of others being a major part of their fundamentalist type of “religion.”

    But whenever an ID/creationist is demonizing others, he is projecting his own innermost character; he is telling us intimate details about himself, his daily thoughts, his hatreds and fears, and his moral compass.

    What he accuses others of being is what he himself is. He has no way of knowing what others are like because he lives inside his own head and never makes contact with the real, external world. The DI offices are a cozy cocoon and an echo chamber.

    Folks like Marcelo Gleiser, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and many of the other scientists who have a talent for articulating the wonders of the universe to others, don’t spend their time demonizing and kvetching. Instead, they attempt to inspire and lift others by passing on the wonder and curiosity that drives them to study science. People feel better and energized to learn more after encountering these folks; and this is in sharp contrast to the seething hatred and closed-mindedness generated among ID/creationist followers by their leaders.

    The mind of an ID/creationist is a very dark and angry place.

  8. “What he accuses others of being is what he himself is.”
    Spot on. And he can’t imagine – can’t afford to imagine that the mindset of the accused might be different.

  9. @Mike E: Dead on target. If memory serves, it’s called projection. But as a defense mechanism, it’s unconscious. The DI uses it as a tactic. How many of their own tactics have they claimed to have been used by their opponents? Moving the goalposts, Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, discrimination . . . just to name a few. The whole Evolution is just a theory and Evolution is a religion are perfect examples. It’s like the dirty politician who accuses their opponent of playing dirty when in reality, they are the ones doing the dirty work.

    Had a conversation with a climate-change denier recently. I think the mindset is quite similar. One of their many fallacious arguments was how climate change scientists are in it for the grant money. Obviously they have no idea how grants work and going along with the majority doesn’t get you $$. There has to be another reason why 87% of climate scientists agree . . . but that particular denier will never be convinced, even if they live long enough to be neck-deep in the ocean . . . here in Ohio.

  10. I don’t mean to be hard on him. I can only imagine the pressure in the academic science world to downplay the wonder and astonishment at such a result — Gleiser himself, not to mention every other human being — coming about by the interaction of blind, dumb, undirected forces alone. When you are treading so close to the perilous frontier of intelligent design, you choose your words with all caution.

    So Klunkhammer would prefer to believe in a Creator brought about by no forces at all–because, we’re told, He is eternal.

    K (think: giant cockroach) wants to argue that intelligent design must be true because . . . er, well, because it just must, that’s all. And if a respected scientist dares say that it’s “nothing short of wonderful” that a universe which started with a Big Bang could eventually give rise to thinking beings, creationists like Klinghoffer tries to twist that scientist’s words into an admission that the appearance of intelligent life is nothing short of miraculous. There’s a word for this kind of thing: “fraud.” And creationists play such games all the time.

    No wonder scientists have to “choose [their] words with all caution.” Anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of faith.

  11. Charles Deetz ;)

    No hypothesis correcting him? Wouldn’t Klingy propose it this way: 1. Physical first universe 2. Omniscient and universal actor 3. Physical second universe somehow linked to the first and created by the actor 4 Everything else possibly set up by the actor … or by some natural causes