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November,1998

Where's the Watchmaker? by Cliff Walker

Marty Rudin writes: "Creationists have finally slipped one past the goalkeeper. Cambridge University Press has published William Dembski's 'The Design Inference.'

"This neo-creationism is a lot more sophisticated and slickly packaged than the creationism that lost in the courts in the 1980s. For instance, they scrupulously avoid the Bible in their public discussions.

"If you really want to see what the neo-creationists are up to, compare this book with Dembski's blatantly theological 'Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design,' where Dembski lays out the theological agenda behind the so-called intelligent design movement."

Of course they repackaged creationism: everyone agrees they had to do something! It still boils down to the old: "Anything this complex just has to have a creator because it's so -- complex!"

However, to divorce creationism from its primary purpose of upholding the Bible or some other Revealed Dogma is patently dishonest.

To establish a creative force behind DNA and life does not establish a god. A god must necessarily be supernatural, otherwise He or She or Whatever is just another part of the Universe, and cannot be distinguished from the Benevolent Space Brothers we keep hearing about.

"Starseed" creation (the term coined by Timothy Leary, Ph.D., to denote a "planting" of DNA on Earth) is physically possible, though unproven (much like the "Loch Ness monster" is physically possible, but unverified at this point).

To postulate supernatural creation, however, would overturn much of what we know about reality. Thus, it is all the more impossible to prove the "creation" of the Universe through inference from something complex or unlikely.

For creationism to get past square one, it must first reveal a creator or intelligent creative force intervening in the Universe. This is what creation means: the existence of a creator. To infer design simply from the existence of complexity is premature.

We detect design because of our prior knowledge of a designer. Some things look designed because they appear different from their natural surroundings, but we cannot use this to prove design.

If I find a watch in the desert, it looks unnatural; I can verify it was created if I visit the watchmaker.

The Grand Canyon, splendid as it may appear, is the result of the natural flow of the Colorado River, unless someone can discover a designer at work. Otherwise, it looks as natural as any terrain.

Since we have nothing else with which to compare the Universe (to find out if it is natural or contrived), we must remain agnostic or take its creation on faith -- unless somebody coughs up a creator.

We do best to stick with what we know: The Universe exists. That's as far as we can verify at this point; we have not found a consistent way of testing beyond this fact.

The creationists know they must first have a god before they can prove creation. But in a classic inversion of truth, they try to get creationism in the schools first, so they can later push their god onto the kids.

Graphic Rule

    • Notes:

    • See also: New Creationist Book with Marty Rudin and James Call
    • See also: The Watch in the Desert analogy in Cliff's reply to Derrek Leasure

Graphic Rule
Copyright ©1998 Cliff Walker; Portland, Oregon