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Why ID is false

By: Patrick McDonald, Contributing Writer

Posted: 4/30/07

Allow me to refute Intelligent Design.

This is the most charitable rendition of its argument I can make:

1) The universe exhibits order.

2) This order is too great to have been the result of natural processes.

3) It must have resulted from a supernatural cause.

4) This supernatural cause is God.

The first assertion is false.

If, by order, one means complexity: Something is simpler the more it is understood, and science has shown the universe to be quite simple despite its elegance.

If one means beauty: What about ugly looking globs of waste and an apparently random astronomical assortment throughout the universe expanding toward an immense, cold, void?

If one means morally pleasing: What about floods that kill thousands of innocent people?

If one means there is something static about the universe: All things are in a constant state of flux. During this process, whether things are living or not, there is plenty of destruction due to being unfit, plenty leftover for no purpose, and plenty yet to be perfected for particular purposes. Besides, beauty, morality and complexity are all value judgments, so they have no factual basis anyway.

Besides, even if there were order, order need not be design. The two are different, the latter being necessary and the former contingent. Even if the universe were immensely complex, beautiful, and/or moral, one has no way of ascertaining whether it was designed as opposed to merely ordered. To assume that two things both share the property of being designed simply because they are both complex, beautiful or morally pleasing would be to commit the fallacy of affirmation of the consequent. Two animals can both be black without being the same animal; both the universe and a watch can share all sorts of properties without both being designed.

Assertion two is false. The more scientific research is done, the more theories are compiled to explain how natural processes occur, and the less we attribute to God. It is through ignoring this premise that science has made any progress at all (this will be elaborated later). Besides, how could anyone know that every possible natural explanation has been exhausted, man being a limited and often stupid agent? ID proponents should already know the explanation, anyway: Man evolved because he could.

Assertion three is false. Reason prohibits this sort of explanation, being entirely grounded in the natural, immanent world. Reason allows for any explanation to be seen as complete in itself because it rules out, a priori, any supernatural, transcendent component of that explanation. It is this ruling out that allows for any theory to be considered acceptable upon first and future demonstration. One may respond that reason merely methodologically "ignores" supernatural, transcendent stuff. To this I respond that reason assumes something false so long as no reliable evidence is provided for it. No reliable evidence has been provided for supernatural, transcendent stuff. Science has always turned what was once attributed to God into something merely natural. Therefore, such stuff does not exist.

It can even be argued nothing supernatural and transcendent can exist. It cannot have attributes because it is non-spatial, it cannot have causal properties because it exists outside space-time. How could something with no attributes and no causal properties exist?

Assertion four is false. God, being supernatural and transcendent, is either presumed non-existent or cannot exist. It has already been explained why. There is, of course, much more to be said. For instance, ID proponents cannot explain what created God, let alone how or why He created the universe. Besides, what is God? The Christian God? No one can know. At most, the chances of us being right are highly implausible, and we would be correct by accident. This, not being properly justified, would still not be knowledge.

Some call ID - and thus theism - a proposition to be accepted on faith. Well, if personal conviction is their criterion for truth, then the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Shiva, and Thor could also exist, not exist, both exist and not exist, and neither exist nor not exist - all at once. After all, someone believes, or could believe, any of those things! I choose reason over madness. Therefore, ID - and theism - is false.

About the writer:

Pat McDonald is a junior anthropology major. He can be reached at pmcdonal@smu.edu.
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