Wednesday, May 11, 2011

David Hume:  More on Intelligent Design.

In Part V David has finally mentioned the Epicureans.  More on this later.  The Intelligent Design argument basically states that the cumulative force of human intellect can create simple machines.  The earth and life represent a unfathomably more complex interwoven fabric of machines.  Thus, the intellect that created this machine must be vastly greater than that of man.  I would characterize the anti-Intelligent Design arguments as basically being of this form.  1) A is greater than 0.  2) B is much greater than A.  3) Therefore, B is no equal to A.  4) Given that B is not equal to A, and A is not equal to 0, then  B can be equal to zero.  5) B greater than 0 is ruled out because that would be theological and not scientific.  6) Therefore, B must be equal to 0.

It is through this basic pattern that Hume proposes to overthrow intelligent design through the character Philo.  The various arguments proposed all fall into the usual syllogisms that we are familiar with today:

"If we survey a ship, what an exalted idea must we form of the ingenuity of the carpenter, who framed so complicated useful and beautiful a machine?  And what surprise must we entertain, when we find him a stupid mechanic, who imitated others, and copied an art, which, through a long succession of ages, after multiplied trials, mistakes, corrections, deliberations, and controversies, had been gradually improving?" - Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part V.

A key part of the atheist/Darwinist mentality is the contempt for which the profession of engineering is held.  You think you are an intelligent designer??? Ha!  You don't know anything!

"But how is it conceivable, said Demea, that the world can arise from anything similar to vegetation or generation?


Very easily, replied Philo.  In like manner as a tree sheds its seed into the neighbouring fields, and produces other trees; so the great vegetable, the world, or this planetary system, produces within itself certain seeds, which, being scattered into the surrounding chaos, vegetate into new worlds.  A comet, for instance, is the seed of a world; and after it has been fully ripened, by passing from sun to sun, and start to star, it is at last tossed into the unformed elements, which everywhere surround this universe, and immediately sprouts up into a new system." - Part VII

This seems logical to Philo because he has already despised the intelligent design argument as being a mere analogy, rather than a sound combination of inductive and deductive reasoning.  Hence, any mindless analogy that he can dream up he considers a worthy competitor to the idiotic belief that technology might have been the product of a technologist.  What is notable here is that a modern Darwinist can explain anything with the same level of ease that Hume has demonstrated in the above quote.

In the next section, Hume launches into a true Epicureanism:

"For instance; what if I should receive the old Epicurean hypothesis?  This is commonly, and I believe, justly, esteemed the most absurd system, that has yet been proposed; yet, I know not, whether, with a few alterations, it might not be brought to bear a faint appearance of probability.  Instead of supposing matter infinite, as Epicurus did; let us suppose if finite.  A finite number of particles is only susceptible of finite transpositions:  And it must happen, in an eternal duration, that every possible order or position must be tried an infinite number of times ..."  - Part VIII

Anything might happen!  The problem with this is well known:  The laws of physics preclude necessary intermediate conditions for the production of life, unless that life had already existed.  Infinity isn't enough.  Besides that, we don't have infinity.  The intellectualoids tell us the universe is 10's of billions of years old with a huge number of particles.  Multiply out all the possible test configurations - assuming all those particles were little devices doing permutations on amino acids at a 1 GHz rate - and it will still come in at a vastly smaller number than the number of permutations needed to get a small protein sequence correct.

What is satisfying is the near admission that Philo is really espousing a gnostic Epicureanism, while he feigns an agnostic Acadmic/Skeptic posture.

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