A Great New Argument for Intelligent Design

Dung Beetle

Dung Beetle

We were visiting the website of the Discovery Institute, and for some reason we thought of the Dung beetle — a splendid example of an insect that has evolved to thrive in its environment. We’ve written about them several times — see Dung Beetles Navigate by the Stars. That post links to a few others, including one you shouldn’t miss: Intelligent Design: The Dung Beetle’s Tale.

What was it at the Discoveroids’ website that made us think of that amazing creature? We’re not sure, but we noticed this new post at their creationist blog: Dominic Halsmer: Aesthetic Arguments for Intelligent Design. It’s very brief, and it has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

On a classic ID the Future episode [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!], Dr. Dominic Halsmer [Who?], Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Oral Roberts University, continues a conversation with host Casey Luskin about Halsmer’s peer-reviewed paper “The Coherence of an Engineered World,” published in the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics.

Most of you have heard about Oral Roberts University, of which Halsmer is a dean. Wikipedia says it’s “a private evangelical university in Tulsa, Oklahoma.” But we’re not familiar with the journal that published Halsmer’s paper. Ah, Wikipedia mentions them in its article on Wessex Institute of Technology in England. Wikipedia says:

The Wessex Institute of Technology previously organised a conference on design and nature, whilst WIT Press publishes the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, which has attracted attention for the subject matter of some of the papers presented and published.

What attracted attention to that publication? Wikipedia continues:

Contributions to its 2004 International conference programme included a joint paper by Scott A. Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer [Hee hee!] reiterating claims disputing evolution of the bacterial flagellum. [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!] The paper was cited in the landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District legal case, being the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courts testing a public school district policy that required the teaching of intelligent design. Doubts have been raised as to whether proper peer review has been followed for these conferences.

If you want to know the role played by the flagellum in the Kitzmiller case, see Kitzmiller v. Dover: Michael Behe’s Testimony.

Okay, we know who Halsmer is, and we know about the journal in which he published. Let’s return to the Discoveroids’ post, which tells us:

Dr. Halsmer explains some of the aesthetic arguments for design from beauty in science, engineering, and the study of humanity.

There are “aesthetic arguments” for the Discoveroids’ theory of intelligent design? We didn’t know that. This is exciting! What follows is the end of the Discoveroids’ post:

How do modularity, specificity, adaptability, durability, and other aspects of engineering systems argue for intelligent design in nature? [Good question!] To find out, download the podcast or listen to it here. [Link omitted!]

This looks like an impressive, heavyweight, peer-reviewed, scientific argument, dear reader. You’d better study up on it.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

7 responses to “A Great New Argument for Intelligent Design

  1. Halsmer is also the author of “Stability of a spinning axisymmetric rocket with dissipative internal mass motion” and, according to Web of Science, not much else. The journal, which is *not* in Glasgow Uni Library, charges authors a fee

  2. Derek Freyberg

    You’ll be happy to know that if you do want to read the paper, it is open access and can be downloaded from the link provided in the story.
    But you may not want to bother – if you see a sentence like this “From the very large aspects of the universe (i.e., big bang cosmology and galactic and stellar evolution) to the very small (i.e., the fitness of the chemical elements and the coding of DNA for life), the cosmos is so readily and profitably reverse engineered by its human inhabitants as to suggest that the whole shebang was engineered from the beginning” in the Abstract, and you will if you read it, you might consider that the authors are inept and editing and review are absent.

  3. @DF, it gets worse: “The linking of extraordinarily complex, but stable and functional structures with the production of value provides the strong impression of a calculating intentionality, which is apparently able to operate in a transcendent fashion.”

    If this means anything, it means what Darwin said in his auobiography: http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F1497&viewtype=side&pageseq=1

    This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.”

    Funny that they never credit him for that

  4. “When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.”

    If Darwin was wrong then that means there is no god. Seems pretty cut and dry. Everybody can go home now.

  5. Dave Luckett

    This is kinda where theism meets deism. If Darwin and Halsmer are right, then the cosmos might have been designed and built by an intelligence that might as well be called “God”, but we know nothing more than that. In fact, we don’t know that much, in the sense of having any specific evidence for it. It’s a general observation that “feels” right. Lots of observations feel right, and turn out to be wrong. But who knows? This one might be right.

    But if we admit that much, honesty compels that we admit no more. This intelligence, if it exists, seems to be completely indifferent to us. And if the Universe were designed to bring intelligence forth, it was surely made with a profligacy of resources that defeats the contention that it was designed for that purpose.

    Theism demands a God who is concerned with His creation. Abrahamic religion demands One who is present, One that actually intervenes. I think, therefore, that Darwin was not exhaustive when he said he deserved to be called a Theist. I’ll take him at his word in describing the God he acknowledged, and observe that if he was a theist, he was one of the deist sub-set. Certainly, I can do no better.

  6. @Dave Luckett
    You point out how design has affinities with deism. I have sympathy with your observations. Today’s Intelligent Design avoids that, however, by having no coherent, positive stance. We have, for example, no idea what it means for a supernatural agency to be a designer.

  7. @ TomS: Gary Larson has some suggestions about what it means for a supernatural agent to be a designer/fabricator:

    God makes the snake

    God’s kitchen