The Discovery Institute’s Best Idea Yet

The latest post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog is about an absurd and utterly useless analogy, of which they’re very proud. It’s titled Intelligent Design and the Computer Analogy, and it was written by Klinghoffer. It’s so bad that we’ll give you only a very few excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Imagine if computer science allowed researchers to consider the physical components of computers but not the “ideas” that drive them, imparted by their designers.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Who thinks of such things? Oh, Klinghoffer tells us:

Douglas Axe, author of [yeah, yeah], poses that instructive question in a brief video conversation.

And it’s a very instructive question indeed! We haven’t bothered to look at the video, but if you care to see the thing, it’s at Klinghoffer’s post. Let’s read on:

Most of evolutionary biology is limited by just such a stricture: consider the physical aspect of living creatures without probing the ideas — the purposeful, immaterial design — that we embody in physical form. In biology, you may not weigh the evidence for design, otherwise you’re damned as a creationist!

If organisms arrived in this world with instruction manuals, we’d certainly take a look at them. Unfortunately, the Discoveroids’ mystical designer — blessed be he! — failed to provide them. What kind of designer would behave like that? Klinghoffer continues:

This isn’t to say people or other animals are computers, or machines. We’re much more, which makes the stricture against intelligent design all the more perverse. Still, the computer analogy is helpful.

To show us how helpful the computer analogy is, Klinghoffer spends several paragraphs talking about a biography of Steve Jobs and his career at Apple Computer. Then he uses his analogy with what he thinks is a powerful closing for his post:

Now imagine if the narrative were totally reworked with an exclusive focus on Apple computers as a series of physical artifacts of increasing sophistication, arising spontaneously, as if neither the design nor the designers existed. Crazy! The story would be flat, boring — and false. Yet this in a nutshell is the field of evolutionary biology.

That’s it, dear reader. That’s the Discoveroids’ computer analogy. It’s their latest and best work so far. We’re impressed!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “The Discovery Institute’s Best Idea Yet

  1. SC said:

    we’d certainly take a look them.

    Did you mean to say, “we’d certainly take a look at them”?

  2. Yup. All fixed now. Thanks, Gary.

  3. “If organisms arrived in this world with instruction manuals, we’d certainly take a look at them. Unfortunately, the Discoveroids’ mystical designer … failed to provide them.”
    Not at all! What do you think the Holy Bible is?

  4. As soon as “computer sex” means “actual computers having sex and procreating”, this analogy may have some merit. Until that time, yeah, no.

  5. “… the purposeful, immaterial design — that we embody in physical form…”
    The meaning of that escapes me. How does immaterial design (whatever that may be) get embodied into physical form? If the creation “scientists” had any mechanism for the alleged activities of their alleged designer (blessed be he/she/it), maybe they could explain it to real scientists!

  6. So evolutionary biology must be wrong because ID offers a less boring narrative? It’s an odd argument . . .

  7. Well, that’s two minutes wasted. Axe simply repeats the same lie over and over and over. He said that scientists are prevented, restricted, denied invoking immaterial causes. That is not true and Axe has the education to know it’s not true. He is distorting what actually occurs in science to promote his own weird, narrow religious view and it is his intent that crosses him over the BS line into lying.

    No one is or could “prevent” scientists from considering the immaterial. In fact, it has been considered and examined over the past 400 or so years and it has been rejected as useless.

    Axe is playing the Persecution Card because he’s out of cards. One might say that the entire Disco Tute deck is short a few cards these days if Axe, who been kept hidden in a basement for the previous decade, is now their top dog. No one is buying their “intuition is reality” nonsense, not even their own followers – if they have any.

    Sad to be the Disco Tute when all you have left are Axe, Annie Green Screen, Savvy Sarah and Klankerwanker.

  8. michaelfugate

    Does anyone really think that a mind without a physical/material body would be possible or be able to do anything? Not to be mystical or new age, but it is all one.

  9. That is a question which believers in design as an explanation have ignored from the beginning.
    Maybe there is a way that a supernatural agency can affect a natural object. Maybe, but who has ever filled in that gap in explaining things.?
    We know that design has never been enough to account for the existence of something. There always has to be some action in the natural world to produce a natural result.
    And it’s even worse than that.
    If one assumes that there is an all-powerful agency, which can do anything,
    then why does it need a design?
    Design is neither sufficient nor necessary as an explanation.

  10. Tornado in the junk yard yet again!! When will they get better evidence??? Oh! Never!
    These people are really desperate to prove their gawd myth!

  11. About the tornado in the junkyard: it is rarely mentioned, even by those who accept evolution, that there is a major difference in the amount of energy needed to assemble a 747 from its parts, as compared to the energy in chemical reactions. Molecules are synthesized as a commonplace occurrence in nature. Yet even the forces in a tornado are not enough to bind together airplane components.
    That observation is not the only thing wrong with the analogy, but it should be mentioned from time to time.

  12. ~15 years ago, when I was getting deep in the weeds analyzing DI’s arguments, it occurred to me that, right or wrong, they could be just as easily applied to economic systems. The irony is that they’d be arguments for top-down control, and against free-market economics. But their target audience tends to favor less central control (though for all the wrong reasons). Had their target audience been just conservative, and not also mostly fundamentalist, however, they could just invoke (<a href="http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2004/09/introduction-to.html">multiple designers. Then they would not have to pretend that those arguments somehow invalidated biological evolution OR required a single “controller.” But the DI is radically authoritarian, and I have long strongly suspected that, privately, they not only accept evolution (& 4-billion years of common descent), but disdain free-market economics.

  13. ..darn…forgot the

    [*Voice from above*] That link was messed up beyond repair. Presumably you meant this: Introduction to Multiple Designers Theory.

  14. Kudos to Klinkleclapper. Never before I have read such a self-destructive version of Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy.

  15. Now imagine if the narrative were totally reworked with an exclusive focus on Apple computers as a series of physical artifacts of increasing sophistication, arising spontaneously, as if neither the design nor the designers existed. Crazy!

    True. That would be crazy. We know who the designers were, and what exactly they did. We know that their computers are manufactured artifacts, and do not replicate themselves.

    How again is this analogous to “the field of evolutionary biology?”

    To make this analogy work, biologists would have to know that there are designers, who they were, how they did their work and when — and then ignore them.

    I think it is incumbent on the DI, since they appear to know so much about designers, to provide biologists with the information they are apparently ignoring. Here is a chance for the DI to join actual science!

  16. It only works if the “designer” is an actual human, but then it doesn’t work because humans don’t design much like the universe and its inhabitants are designed. It really only makes sense if you believe Genesis is literally true.

  17. Derek Freyberg

    If all you read was the title of this post, you might have thought that the DI had DIssolved – that would have been their best idea ever, even though it would have cost us a long-running source of amusement. But “yet” does imply the possibility that they may still have that best idea ever.

  18. @michaelfugate
    It can’t only make sense if you believe Genesis is literally true, because you have to decide which of the incompatible stories in Genesis you want to take as literally true.
    For example, the Elohim creation account in Gen 1, in which Elohim moves from primordial chaos to a world suitable for humans in about ten creative acts (fiats), if you ignore the ill-conceived priestly attempt to fit this into six days to support sabbath observance, is, for the time, a reasonable attempt to understand the world and our place in it.
    On the other hand, the second Genesis creation myth depicts JHVH as a blundering idiot, much more like the Intelligent Designer beloved of the discoveroids.

  19. Great Intervener, could I have a capital D on “designer” in my last sentence, if such a triviality is not too far beneath your exalted notice?

    [*Voice from above*] Behold, it is done!

  20. Now imagine if the narrative were totally reworked with an exclusive focus on Apple computers as a series of physical artifacts of increasing sophistication, arising spontaneously, as if neither the design nor the designers existed. Crazy! The story would be flat, boring — and false. Yet this in a nutshell is the field of evolutionary biology.

    High school level physics/chemistry exercise 1: Scale the charge-to-mass ratios of electrons and protons up to kilogram-sized masses separated by about one meter. How much potential energy is involved in the interaction between, say, two such scaled-up “protons?”

    High school student answer: 8.25 x 10^25 joules.

    ID/creationist answer: ?????

    High school level physics/chemistry exercise 2: What is the kinetic energy of a kilogram mass traveling at the wind speed of an EF5 tornado (142 m/s)?

    High school student answer: 1.01 x 10^4 joules.

    ID/creationist answer: ?????

    High school level question for ID/creationists at the Discovery Institute: What is the justification for using inert objects – such as junkyard parts, computer parts, fishing reel parts, ASCII characters, dice rolls, coin flips, etc. – as stand-ins for the properties and behaviors of atoms and molecules?

    High school student answer: None whatsoever.

    ID/creationist answer: Look up Fred Hoyle.

  21. One last thought: Why does the DI always have to use analogies? Why can’t they point to actual items that were intelligently designed? Aside from the fact that, every time they’ve done so (bacterium flagellum, blood clotting mechanism, etc), they’ve been proven wrong?
    Forget it. I think I just answered my own question.

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