TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Against obvious logic, what is the reasonable case for Intelligent Design/God's existence? If not, why is the thought of such so prevalent?

The case for atheism is, frankly, obvious. To think otherwise is to put one's moral reasoning, partial life's purpose, and partial opinions behind the imaginative, to say the least, seems careless at best and wishfully apathetic at worst. As Richard Dawkins says, in the above video, the easy answers found in an unrealistic dogma can all too easily supplant scientific thought. A ignorance of such atheist precepts is rampant as well, at least in the U.S.; this quote from George H.W. Bush, though outdated, is quite revealing; "No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God." Extrapolating, more than 1/2 of U.S. citizens voted for him, and it was never really questioned fully by the media. How many Atheist congressmen are there today? Feel free to debate, haha.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Dec 22 2011: A century of unravelling some of nature's secrets has exposed just how complex living organisms are. The more we learn, the more we have to accept the deficit in our understanding. I have read that the complexity of the simplest cell is comparable to that of the Space Shuttle. This may well turn out to be an understatement, as we don't really know. Evolution's 'Junk DNA' is turning out to be nothing of the sort.

    I have spent most of my life in engineering. I know how difficult it is to get systems to work, & there is no way that biological systems are not designed. eg There is allegedly 60,000 miles of blood piping in a human, with perfect branching & reducers taking it down to the diameter required for platelets to go through single file. The system seldom leaks, but if it does, it self repairs without interruption to the flow. This is one of the simpler systems in the human (or animal) body.

    Random Mutation & Natural Selection; - give me a break!

    • thumb
      Dec 22 2011: Wow. And any designer who was so complex to design all that must have had an even more complex designer who designed him. And he must have had an even more complex designer who designed him …

      Peter - You just proved that there are an infinite number of Gods!
      • Dec 22 2011: Peter - You just proved that there are an infinite number of Gods!

        One for every universe.
      • thumb
        Dec 23 2011: No guys. Just one eternal God. No I don't understand eternity/infinity; or non material beings for that matter. That bit has to be faith, but I am sure that we are designed; that is obvious, & that is the question at hand.

        • thumb
          Jan 2 2012: No, Peter, you are not "sure we are designed;" you are sure you believe we were designed by God.

          If you actually studied natural selection, you would see there is a much more plausible explanation for how we were "designed" than some omnipotent being popping us out of His navel, fully-formed, some 6000 years ago.

          That people believe in "intelligent design" is proof that intelligence in design is not particularly necessary.
    • Dec 30 2011: Hello Peter,

      I am also an engineer and I too struggle with the complexity of life and how it could have arose through natural selection. However, a little perspective is in order. We design systems in a matter of years, whereas the first cell took roughly half a billion years, so the intelligent design conclusion does not seem that obvious to me. You can try to dismiss mutations and natural selection, but we see those processes at work every day, with every seed and child.
      • thumb
        Dec 31 2011: Hi Michael
        Let's. assume we want to make a water valve. At least we know what we want. Do you really think that our valve will self-assemble over the next million years? Nothing I have encountered in mechanical engineering improves with age, & normally would disappear in a million years.
        Evolution Has no idea what it wants & yet comes up with engineering which we can barely understand. All complete in beautiful symmetry, & able to reproduce. Not in the real world.

        Natural selection is accepted by both sides, but no evidence exists that would suggest the ability to produce new creature types. Mutations? If we have a smoothly running cnc program, would we really expect that introducing random typos would improve matters?

        If evolution was really happening, wouldn't we see millions of transitional types in life & in the fossils. Everything we see is complete & functional.

        • thumb
          Jan 2 2012: Hi Peter, agree the development of new complex living entities from other complex variants via natural selection is relatively easy to grasp.

          I start to struggle with the development of complex life from simple life forms. However, I can see shared themes such as reproduction via egg and sperm, DNA, across so many forms of life. Similarities in senses, organs, and chemical makeup, structure, cells, even vertebra foetuses look remarkably similar in the early stages - all of this points towards a common ancestor. Life has a way of fighting entropy, at least for a time.

          I really struggle with the inception of life. How it all started. It is difficult to fathom. Similarly I find the scientific explanation of the life of stars, development of galaxies, solar systems, planets relatively straight forward compared to the origin of this universe.

          However, I find belief in some sort of creator being to explain these gaps in our knowledge/comprehension, seems to simplify on the surface but actually adds complexity. This just pushes back the question a level. How did life and the universe come about? God made it. Followed by a statement that God is eternal all powerful outside time etc. Simple?

          Overall, I find the naturalistic, scientific view of life and the universe makes more sense and fits what we observe a better fit than trying to retrofit reality to literal biblical Christianity. You obviously disagree. But hope you can concede that life and the universe through natural processes, while stretching human intellectual capacity, is no harder to comprehend than the existence of some supernatural being that created a universe that looks very big and old in 6 days, 6000 years ago via inexplicable processes for a species on a single blue planet in galaxy with billions of stars in a universe with billions of galaxies where even the light we see took millions and billions of years to reach us . In fact the natural explanation is probably simpler and better fit.
        • Jan 2 2012: Peter,
          “Do you really think that our valve will self-assemble over the next million years? Nothing I have encountered in mechanical engineering improves with age”

          It has been previously explained to you, in this thread, that a mechanical piece, your valve, is unlike a living thing. A living organism undergoes metabolism, have inheritable information, and capable of reproducing. Living organisms move, interact with and use environmental resources, replicate, and evolve. Inanimate things lack all these characteristics. This should be very straightforward understanding for any learned person. This difference between living and non living is basic and fundamental to bear in mind. But I wouldn’t be surprised that you would come again and present the same point as if it hasn’t been explained for you.
        • Jan 2 2012: "Let's. assume we want to make a water valve. At least we know what we want. Do you really think that our valve will self-assemble over the next million years?"

          Why not? I've seen plenty of natural valves, and not just valves either. Even if you discount life forms these things happen if you just open your eyes. You have to relax your presuppositions about what things are "supposed" to look like. Caves, for example, tend to let liquids in from the top but they never come out the top, caves are "one way", just like a valve. Volcanoes and geysers are the same thing with the direction reversed. But valves aren't really the point.

          The real point is that you're trying to coerce things, and that's not how nature works. Your saying "at least we know what we want" is exactly the problem in your reasoning. If you assume that there is a target state then _of course_ it requires a creator, it's circular logic.
      • thumb
        Jan 2 2012: GM/Mind
        There are of course many similarities in living organisms. We all have to survive on the same planet, so naturally there is a limit to the structures that will function. To me it points to economy of design rather than common descent.

        We do not even understand our moon; to pretend we understand the universe is blindness.

        Both life & non-life are assembled from dead atoms. To me they are the same; an arrangement of atoms. Life is of course much superior; a lot more skill is required in the assembly. We may understand ohow a spreadsheet works, & admire it's flexibility, but that is no explanation of the computer that runs it.

        The fact that you have explained things to me Mind does not necessarily mean that I have abandoned independent thought.

        • thumb
          Jan 2 2012: QUOTE: "We do not even understand our moon; to pretend we understand the universe is blindness."

          Then why do you pretend to understand, not only the universe but the "creator" behind it?

          And we do "understand our moon."

          Is there more to learn about the moon?


          Peter, you continually present partial knowledge as a refutation of science and as a confirmation of blind faith. "We don't know this," you say, "science must be wrong. If science is wrong, the Bible must be right - it explains everything."

          "We don't know this," you say, "the Bible must be right."

          And then you flip the table.

          "We do know this," you say, "and it conforms to some story in the Bible, science must be right."

          And again:

          "We do know this," you say, "and it contradicts the Bible, science must be wrong."

          As I have said before, your science sucks.

          Your faith is evident but your science sucks.
        • Jan 2 2012: "The fact that you have explained things to me Mind does not necessarily mean that I have abandoned independent thought"

          No Peter, you are abandoning independent thought. You provide an example on how faith suffocates human intelligence.
        • thumb
          Jan 3 2012: Thanks peter. Can't argue that the universe as we know it could have been created by one or many super beings. Its another discusion on whether yoirs or any religion is even remotely close to explaining them or whether they would interact in any way with humans. I don't deny this possibility. Given science iscontinuing to explain more and more of the universe without undetectable supernatural enities it still seems closer to the truth than any belief system based on scripture revelation and msupposedly miraculous events in ancient times. It surprises me some people still link weather and earthquake events to acts of this or that god due to some human misdimeanours. So many belief systems and interpretations.
      • thumb
        Jan 2 2012: Hi Thomas,
        A good New Year to you.
        The formation of the moon is hotly debated, & has been as long as I can remember. None of the theories really work & it's recession from the earth is a whole other can of worms.

        So to say we understand the formation of the universe, Big Bang, Big Splat, Inflation, or whatever is stretching things a bit.

        • thumb
          Jan 2 2012: And a Happy New Year to you too, Peter.

          While we are in agreement that it is stretching things a bit to say we fully understand the formation of the universe, life, and everything, it is a much bigger stretch to say the Bible offers valid scientific explanations of, well, anything.

          Do you see the theme?

          "Science does not explain 'everything,'" you say ... "the Bible does."

          You seem to want an explanation for everything - right now! - and, rather than say, "You know, we cannot explain everything," you have latched onto the Bible as offering you just that ... an explanation ... of everything. The problem is, for the "explanation" to work, you have to believe in nonsense.


          Because the "everything" you are interested in (really interested in) is not the history or the science. No! You are interested in life and eternity. The Bible does offer an explanation of both. You fear hell. You long for heaven. You want meaning in your life. The Bible offers explanations of all of these that satisfy you (you!) so you believe. You may think to yourself, if the Bible is wrong about anything, it might also be wrong about these other REALLY important things; so it CANNOT be wrong about anything.

          I mean it's a small price to pay, right?

          If the Bible is wrong about the earth being 6000 years old, who cares?

          But if you are wrong by not believing in the Bible, my God, you will go to hell. Forever.

          Which is the "smaller" mistake?

          Well, if you believe the Bible (and a fundamentalist interpretation of it), the answer is obvious.

          You have thought yourself into a corner.

          Yes there is some "truth" in the Bible; yes, the Bible (obviously) provides many with "spiritual" guidance but, as history and as science, it is deficient.

          You do not need to accept that the earth is 6000 years old to accept the spiritual message the Bible contains. Not even the Pope believes in young earth creationism.

          He does believe in heaven and hell (or so I am told.) Oh, that's the other conversation!
      • thumb
        Jan 3 2012: Hi Thomas
        There is a theme. Whenever I point out 'scientific' inconsistencies all I get in response is an attack on the bible. Not just you, most folks here do it.
        When materialist scientists tell the history of th universe in our schools, colleges, in books, or on tv, for general consumption, it is stated as a fact. All I am saying is that there are many flaws in their line of reasoning. A little honesty would go a long way. Folks like Dawkins have the same instinct as yourself; rather than discuss the science, he will just have a go at the bible.

        The bible doesn't claim to have all the scientific answers. It warns of heaven & hell & tells us how to avoid the latter. It does indicate that the earth is around 6K old, & personally I find the scientific evidence for that pretty convincing. What the Pope believes is his business; I am not convinced that either dress code, or address, has any bearing on one's ability to recognise truth.

        • Jan 4 2012: I find it quite tough to believe that any serious effort has been made to unearth your postulate that the Earth is around 6K old. Honestly, in this day and age, that little tidbit is quite shocking, and a little revealing into a certain line of thought. There is a real scientific consensus behind the fact of the Earth not being flat, per se, and please don't throw out such statements as "I find the scientific evidence for that pretty convincing" into the public arena of a forum without thought...thanks.
    • thumb
      Jan 3 2012: Peter hope you can acknowledge the irony of struggling to accept life and the universe via natural processes but you can take an unbelivevably powerful, eternal, invisible, undetectable prime mover on faith.
      • thumb
        Jan 3 2012: Hi GM
        I guess it boils down to intelligence versus coincidence. I admire your faith, but it's all too organised for me.

        • thumb
          Jan 3 2012: Perhaps it boils down to “what form of intelligence?”. Peter, I assume you don’t imagine that God’s intelligence resides in flimsy little brain like a human’s. So the form of this omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient creator/inventor is open to debate.

          We can say that the rainwater “creates” a river. We say that the water “seeks” the path of least resistance. Why not God as the metaphor for the totality? “His” intelligence expresses itself through the workings of nature. “He” invents in an evolutionary process (as do all creators) - through trial and error guided by success/failure.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.