Searching for Design

There’s an interesting review, by Logan Paul Gage, of Francis S. Collins’s book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. In a backhanded way, Gage makes a good point: Collins is very eager to find design in physical cosmology (not his expertise), but soundly rejects a similar form of reasoning in biology (his own field).

Sigh. At least intelligent design proponents are somewhat consistent. They see design all around. It’s a gross mistake, but hell, if you’re going to screw up, might as well do it in style. What I don’t entirely understand is the sizable group of more liberal-minded theists who see design in areas that just happen not to be their particular expertise. Collins just makes an ass of himself in his discussion of physical cosmology. I’ve also encountered a handful of physicists who have no interest in introducing any designing intelligence to solve physics problems, but who entertained a suspicion that biological entities were just too intricate to be assembled by natural means. Naturally, biology was not their strong suit.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11108933553772863699 Jeff Chamberlain

    “What I don’t entirely understand is the sizable group of more liberal-minded theists who see design in areas that just happen not to be their particular expertise.”

    Really? Unless you’ve got a whole lot packed into the adverb “entirely” I’d have thought this was apparent: These folks want to find design (perhaps because they view it as validating their theism), so if there’s no design in their particular area of expertise it must exist somewhere else. Or have I missed the point?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12459891984373393444 Taner Edis

    “These folks want to find design.”

    I’m sure that’s part of it. But, well, that’s speculating about motives. In any case, I wasn’t trying to say anything profound, just express some frustration…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12648338473296940751 Hallq

    Your observation that some scientists will find evidence of God outside their area of knowledge sheds an interesting light on the way some philosophers find evidence of God everywhere…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13902245013542536016 LarryFarfarafararman

    Then there’s people like ex-physicist David Heddle. He thinks “cosmological fine tuning” is evidence of god, but then claims that’s a philosophical, rather than scientific, argument.

    He can be found at

    helives.blogspot.com

    if you care to read his wacko flavor of ID.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15208936435095949510 Ryan

    Taner – can you give us some examples of how Collins “makes an ass” of himself? I haven’t read the book yet.

    Thx,
    Ryan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12459891984373393444 Taner Edis

    can you give us some examples of how Collins “makes an ass” of himself?

    His argument for an intelligently designed universe is almost entirely based on naive fine-tuning arguments. He should have at least put more effort into trying to understand physical cosmology before pontificating about what is the best explanation here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15208936435095949510 Ryan

    Taner – I understand that you don’t agree with fine-tuning arguments from your other posts. But from “makes an ass”, I thought you were referring to specific errors of fact (rather than of interpretation or inference). Those are some strong words.

    Thx,
    Ryan


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X