Monday, June 16, 2008

Nyquist's Comments on Anthony Flew's "Conversion"

I recommend reading Greg Nyquist's latest post titled, Objectivism and Religion Part 13, Deism on Anthony Flew's book, There is A God. Here is a key quote.

Whether this argument advances the case for theism, even of the minimal, deist sort, is open to question. But even if it doesn't advance the cause of theism, it does manage to provide a strong case against any version of militant atheism. Confronted with arguments such as this one, I cannot see how any Objectivist can continue to regard belief in God as patently irrational. Indeed, if you compare the claims of atheism with those of rational theism, it's not easy to determine which view is more rational. The rational theist argues that, because it's grossly implausible to assume that a coded chemistry could have emerged spontaneously from inorganic matter (see this article for greater explication of the point), it is not unreasonable to assume that life has its origin in some sort of intelligence or understanding that is beyond human comprehension. The atheist, on the other hand, argues that life emerges out of matter spontaneously, by "chance," as it were—that in other words, we all evolved from rocks. Is this really the more plausible view?
I posted this in reponse.

Greg, I’m glad someone has finally raised the issue of Flew’s “defection” and broached the subject of intelligent design. It’s something I want to write about on my blog one of these days. (Actually, I did post something a while ago comparing Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution to Sean Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful.) I’ve read several books by Dembski, Behe and others. I don’t find them to be whim-worshipping mystics who refuse to face the facts. If anything it’s the supposed defenders of reason (Dawkins, Carroll and others) who resort to sarcasm, sneering and ad hominem arguments to defend their position and to deride the opposition. Dembski makes an interesting case for his position in The Design Inference while Behe is famous for his coining “irreducible complexity.” Yes, their agenda is to build a case a designer (i.e., God). Flew claims he followed where the evidence lead him.

Dembski and others also claims that Darwinists have not addressed how the incredible complexity of life all the way down to the cellular level can be explained by chemicals bumping into one another.

I believe they make good points even if you ultimately might not accept their solution hook line and sinker. I also believe we need to face the facts without prejudice. If the facts seem to indicate the possibility of some kind of intelligence so be it. It still is a big jump from saying there are signs of intelligence in the structure of life or in the conditions that exist in the universe that make life possible to the traditional religious concept of God as an omniscient, omnipotent designer and creator of everything. At the very least Dembski and crew have pointed out chinks in the Darwinian armor that should be acknowledged and addressed instead of using faulty arguments to spackle the holes in their arguments.

1 comment:

john said...

[also commented on Nyquist's blog]

First, there is no such thing as rational theism, just as there is no such thing as "militant atheist" in philosophy. And so many people have countered the Flew case, I won't even bother....

Nyquist took forever to get around to leaking out his agenda on that blog: pathetic apologist for religion on the grounds that most people need the illusion of God and afterlife. He posits that need as "human nature" and Ayn Rand's proud position of man as a rational animal -- with reason as an absolute -- as "contra human nature."

This is a sadly common and pitifully thin justification for religion. So disappointing. It is right up there on the Wall of Infamy with "We have to have God and fear of hell, or else people would have no restraints and would go around killing each other for no reason."

He also took forever spooning out that 'Rand and Religion' thing. I saw the game right away and posted the proper response for anyone encountering the Nyquistian sophistry:

The burden of proof for the existence of God is on those making the claim. Meanwhile "an atheist" is simply someone who holds his convictions by reason and oh by the way does not mention "god" at all.

Anticipating this, Nyquist attempted to foist the label "militant" atheist on Rand, with the intent to switch the responsibility for proof, as if Rand were angrily running around proactively starting fights with theists and making denial of God as the center of her philosophy. This was never the case; she was way too busy supporting and extending her own system. The only reason Rand even deals with the term God -- and only outside the exposition of her philosophy -- is that her enemies keep bringing the subject up. She never needed to say "there is no God." Why should she? Those claiming God exists have the burden.

As I said on that blog when Nyquist began this essay, in the comments of part 1:

To Rand, the existence of God was too trivial to get militant about.

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA