Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dawkins Interview at BeliefNet

The good folks at Belief Net have posted this interview with Richard Dawkins. There are a lot of interesting tidbits, but here's one that caught my eye:

You criticize intelligent design, saying that “the theistic answer”--pointing to God as designer--“is deeply unsatisfying”--presumably you mean on a logical, scientific level.

Yes, because it doesn’t explain where the designer comes from. If they’re going to emphasize the statistical improbability of biological organs—“these are so complicated, how could they have evolved?”--well, if they’re so complicated, how could they possibly have been designed? Because the designer would have to be even more complicated.

The old “Who Designed the Designer?” question. Simple and devastating. The main response of ID folks to this argument is that in many cases we can be certain that something was designed even without understanding anything about the designers. The trouble is that in the case of biological design we have no independent evidence that there is a designer capable of performing the feats attributed to Him. If the existence of specified complexity is the evidence you're using to infer the existence of the designer, then the very same evidence demands that the designer himself be designed. It's inescapable.

You certainly can't argue that the designer himself lacks the property of specified complexity, for then you would have such complexity arising where none was before. That's precisely what ID folks tell us is impossible. The only way out of this is to retreat into metaphysical speculation about God being outside of nature. Take that route if you wish, but you certainly can't pretend to be doing science after doing so.

I also liked this:

Is atheism the logical extension of believing in evolution?

They clearly can’t be irrevocably linked because a very large number of theologians believe in evolution. In fact, any respectable theologian of the Catholic or Anglican or any other sensible church believes in evolution. Similarly, a very large number of evolutionary scientists are also religious. My personal feeling is that understanding evolution led me to atheism. (Emphasis in original)

This was the impression I had of Dawkins' views based on other things he has written. It's nice to see him spell it out clearly here. You often hear people say that Dawkins believes that evolution implies atheism. Clearly, he does not.


At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

It is very telling that the IDiots never come right out and admit it: there are really only two choices for the designer's identity.

One choice is a corporeal being, which immediately leads to the "who designed the designer" question? Surely, if Earth's pathetic life forms required design, then a Super Alien would require it even more.

But you don't hear Dembski or the DI folks telling people that we're the result of an Alien's lab experiment, do you? Why doesn't Michael Behe align himself with the pro-UFO crowd like Stanton Friedman and Art Bell? After all, corrobaorating the existience of aliens should support his "scientific" position.

So, if a Super Alien isn't your cup of tea, then you must resort to a supernatural god of some kind. OK, maybe not the CHRISTIAN god, but a god nonetheless. You have now crossed into the realm of religion, which is not science. It's THAT SIMPLE.

So, if ID does not attempt to indentify the Designer, then Dembski and the DI should be just as pleased to talk about the Flying Spaghetti Monster in science classes as, say, Jehovah. Or Zuess.

After all, when it comes to ID, one God's as good as another, right?

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Johan Richter said...

I do not like the part where he claims that evolution is not random. A science-populariser should not fall in the trap of assuming that "random" means "everything has got the same chance of happening".

For I take it that he is not arguing for a completly deterministic view of evolution, however strong a adaptionist he might be.

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