The wonder of the living world

After showing that the universe is designed for just us in mind, to continue in the same vein and show that everything living on the Earth is also designed would seem like an afterthought. But Lennox thinks it needs to be discussed because not to do so would be admitting defeat in the eyes of the influential thinkers who disagree with him. Biology, it would seem, is a special case. Special because, well, it’s us, you know. And while Christianity has just a couple of lines about the creation of the universe, it’s quite a bit to say about the creation of us. All of it is wrong, unprovable, or obviously borrowed from other religions, but that doesn’t matter because it’s metaphorical. Except when it’s literal. I digress.

Lennox asks “Why are scientists not prepared to draw the obvious inference, and say that living things look as if they are designed precisely because they are designed?” (79) Lennox is big on inferences; he’s going to base a lot of his argument for why design shouldn’t be discounted on abduction. But to answer his question, abduction is a good way to start brainstorming solutions, but a bad way to claim the solution has been found. If we based explanations of the natural world on abduction then most of what we know would be wrong, and Lennox wouldn’t even have an Evolution to argue with.

12 thoughts on “The wonder of the living world

  1. Marco

    I hate to leave a post uncommented, so I’ll just put my take on it. From an engineering aspect, design involves a hell of a lot of copying of a working design, and a tiny bit of modification. Thus, evolution and design is an important factor in the complex things that we design, as well as for living things. Human design evolution is also in some sense “undirected”. The “inventors” of the first valve computer did not have anything like the iPad in mind when they constructed it.

    My take is that just as human design processes use “evolution”, living evolving things, use “design”- not in the conscious sense, and we haven’t found the mechanisms in biology that do this, but I think we will find them as a previously unknown force in speciation. I know this is not what Lennox is getting at, but it is where the initial design inference takes me in a more naturalistic, scientific way.

    Reply
  2. winstoninabox Post author

    Marco, that’s a really interesting take on this section. Thanks for commenting.
    I really hope Nathanael will make a comment sometime soon. I have trouble believing that these sections are convincing to anyone, so I’d like to know if he thought them weak, or if not why not. I’ve already read the next section and can’t wait to comment, but in all likelihood will be drunk tonight and tomorrow night, so it may have to wait until the weekend. That or my “House M.D” binge will continue to interfere with the posting.

    Reply
  3. Marco

    I don’t think this section has resonance with me because I think “so what”. Biology looks designed. I don’t buy the “blind watchmaker” thing of Dawkins either. This just means that I think there is a lot more science to be done in finding mechanisms. The current state of evolutionary science is not adequately addressing the appearance of design, but inferring supernatural designers controlling the process goes against both the spirit of science and even the spirit of Christianity. I like how Lennox addresses the premature triumphalism of evolutionary theory, but that is as far as logical argument can take him.

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  4. Nathanael Small

    Your digression “And while Christianity…” makes many claims that are indeed distractions, so I’m glad you reined yourself in.
    Not sure how you classify sections (Paley and his watch?) so I’ll wait for the next heading to see.
    You answer to Lennox’s question was not actually critiquing the logical construct of Lennox’s own answer but appears to jump forward to page 85 where abduction is overtly referenced, so again I’m waiting for you to actually address the logic of his answer to back up how you don’t find this section logical and therefore not convincing to anyone.
    If when you get to page 85 you could address how you respond to Lennox’s linking cosmology (big bang, origins of the universe) and abduction, that’d be helpful as I’m not sure i understand some of your earlier thinking:
    If cosmology is abductive at its essence then I’m not sure how it gets beyond abduction when it claims solutions? Can cosmology still be called a science as you were comfortable doing some time ago?
    Marco’s comments are interesting as they relate to design, invention, innovation and evolution.
    I’d be interested in what Marco understands the spirit of Christianity to be as it relates to this topic.

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      Your digression “And while Christianity…” makes many claims that are indeed distractions, so I’m glad you reined yourself in.

      I didn’t rein myself in. I’m just getting bored with this book again and can’t be bothered to put in any effort. It is mind-numbingly bad. I’d still like to know if you think it’s any good, and why. Particularly in areas like god of the gaps, where Lennox is telling pork pies about it not being it.

      Not sure how you classify sections (Paley and his watch?) so I’ll wait for the next heading to see.

      My headings match the headings used for the sections within the chapters.

      You answer to Lennox’s question was not actually critiquing the logical construct of Lennox’s own answer but appears to jump forward to page 85 where abduction is overtly referenced, so again I’m waiting for you to actually address the logic of his answer to back up how you don’t find this section logical and therefore not convincing to anyone.

      His argument is tautological nonsense which was very eloquently answered by Mike the Cool Person’s words. Maybe if you could show what I’m missing then I could engage with that.

      Reply
        1. winstoninabox Post author

          The Rolling Stones selling records and we having as much money as them by also selling the same number of records is a quote from the TV show “The Young Ones” by Mike. Mike the Cool Person is his full name.

          Reply
        1. winstoninabox Post author

          Thanks for the correction. Here is the correct quote:

          Vim Fuego: I mean, we’d be as rich as the Stones if only we’d sold as many records as them.

          Reply
    2. Marco

      If cosmology is abductive at its essence then I’m not sure how it gets beyond abduction when it claims solutions? Can cosmology still be called a science as you were comfortable doing some time ago?

      I say no to Cosmology being called a science. I think it lowers our standards. The gold standard should be repeatable observable experiment. To me it is closer to naturalist philosophical theology, extrapolating observed scientific rules beyond where they may be expected to hold.

      Conversely, to claim some “fact” , theory or law of cosmology, say details about the universe in its first seconds is in the same category of scientific truth as physical laws such as the laws of thermodynamics, is in a fantasy land.

      Reply
  5. Nathanael Small

    “For the…biology…proves there is no God.”
    If true, seems worth including in the book on that basis.

    Reply
  6. Marco

    The spirit of Christianity is that humanity is the deliberate endpoint of the creation sequence. The spirit of evolution, both in say the biological sequence, and say the sequence of the evolution of the computer, is in essence, not planned for at the start of the process. A “bush” not a ladder in the terminology. Thus no matter how you interpret biological evidence, or the words of the bible, an evolution that requires supernatural intervention to go from species to species does not make sense.

    Reply

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