When a belief system is irrational and unsupported by verifiable facts, its proponents inevitably get themselves snarled up in contradictory statements. That’s what just happened to the Discovery Institute in two recent posts.
One of their constant dogmas is that our DNA is like computer code, because it was literally coded by their intelligent designer — blessed be he! They insist that there’s no way — absolutely no way! — DNA could have evolved naturally. They just repeated all of that today in Cornell Researchers Find Another Epigenetic Code that Affects Messenger-RNA Productivity, which has no author’s byline.
We’ll skip their description of some recent research, and jump right to their conclusion. The bold font was added by us for emphasis:
The essence of a “code” is that it bears information.
What we see here is another Signature in the Cell [link to an ad for Stephen Meyer’s book]. Intelligent design advocates are not surprised to find codes and switches in irreducibly complex systems.
Darwinian evolution, by contrast, has a big challenge in explaining how multiple players mutated together by chance to hit upon a language convention. What do unguided, blind processes know about codes? What do they understand about information? In short, nothing.
Routine Discoveroid blather. And yet, this appeared at their creationist blog only four days ago: Robots Will Always Be Machines, Not Persons. It was written by Wesley J. Smith, a Discoveroid “Senior Fellow” and a lawyer. His specialty is “Human Exceptionalism,” which is Discoveroid code for “In His Image.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
The mechanical “woman” above [in a video] — through her human-written program — speaks of one day having a family and being a person. Indeed, many in transhumanism and bioethics one day hope to establish robot rights or machine rights.
Never. No matter how sophisticated a computer is, it will always just be a machine — dependent on its programming, whether or not self-written.
But … but … according to the Discoveroids, we too are dependent on the programming of our DNA. Why is Wesley so prejudiced against robots? He says:
And no robot could ever truly “create” art. Art is a distinctly human and subjective enterprise, not based on wired-in programming.
What? According to the Discoveroids, everything we do is based on the “information” programmed into our DNA by their transcendental designer. Wesley doesn’t care. He tells us:
By the way, I have been called a “bigot” for asserting that only humans — not machines, animals, nature, or plants — should have enforceable rights. That’s faulty reasoning. There is a proper hierarchy of moral worth, and humans are at the apex.
How many bigots have made exactly that claim on behalf of their group, so they could dominate their “inferiors”? Wesley continues:
Even enemies of human exceptionalism understand this, which is why they are always looking for analogous capacities among lesser entities — whether animals or AI computers/robots — as a means to bootstrap them into a position of moral equality with us. It’s not going to work.
Wesley obviously hasn’t seen The Measure of a Man, the Star Trek episode where Lt. Commander Data’s rights were the issue. And now we come to the end:
Only we have moral and legally enforceable duties. No machine, animal, plant, or river can ever be morally accountable for anything. Only we are true bearers of rights.
Something is wrong here. If human DNA is coded by the designer, we have no more rights than that female robot. It’s splendidly ironic that Wesley is oblivious to the problem created by Discoveroid dogma.
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