Saturday, September 20, 2014

Atheism Dilemma VI

Atheists are not fond of the "intelligent design" argument.  They respond to this argument that processes in nature are responsible for the apparent "designs" in nature and that no intelligent conscious agent is necessary for such construction.

They will cite abiogenesis as a way to "disprove" intelligent design (see: Atheism Dilemma III). Perhaps they may even cite the "faults" in creation, or the "hostility" of the universe against life (See; Atheism is Stupid V).

Dr. Richard Dawkins in his book "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design" writes, "To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like 'God was always there', and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say 'DNA was always there', or "Life was always there',  and be done with it."  Is this true?  Does "new atheist" Richard Dawkins have a point here? Many atheists believe so and follow his arguments like doctrine.  They repeat his ideas over and over which can almost sound like elderly ladies praying the Rosary.

Those who call themselves "Creationists" posit the idea of Irreducible Complexity which means that
Bacterium Flagellum
things in nature are so complex that removing one part of them will render them useless.  The premise is that the thing has to be designed for a specific purpose and when parts of the thing are removed, the purpose ceases. The Bacterium Flagellum is often cited as an example. It is the "tail" some prokaryotic and eukaryotic bacteria cells have.

What is interesting about this organelle is that it seems to look like a "machine" of sorts.  This "machine" looks like it is turning around almost like a sprocket. The flagellar proteins that make up the basal body allow the hook to move around making the "tail" of the bacterium move allowing for transportation and maneuvering.  Biologist David J. DeRosier wrote in a journal, "More so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human. (David J. DeRosier, Cell 93, 17 (1998))"  The wording of this statement is often used by Creationists to posit that the Bacterium Flagellum is indeed a "machine" in nature.  However, we know via Evolution that other organisms such as the Yersinia Pestis have similar flagella structures that do not move due to lack of specific proteins. The Yersinia Pestis is the organism that causes the Bubonic plague by injecting toxins using a "needle" which looks similar to the Bacterium Flagellum. The argument is then made when comparing the Yersinia Pestis and Bacterium Flagellum that things or organisms in nature are not made for a purpose. They simply evolved to fit an organism's existence and the environment it exists in.

Yersinia Pestis
Atheists often rely on these comparisons in nature to make the case that Evolution brought about the existence of the variety of lifeforms via random processes.  They may often quickly jump to the conclusion that God does not exist.

However is this so?  Does the fact that organelles or structures in nature that seem to have a purpose actually do not and were the result of an unguided Evolutionary process that works on randomness?  This is open to debate, but I posit that this is in fact the case but that it has an intelligence behind it.  The overall problem that I see here is that atheists believe that God is a micro-manager.  They apparently see God as this creative agent who comes in nature as "deus ex machina" and has to monitor each creation, tweaking it here and there as the "flaws" appear in creation.

How can we tell "design" from "random processes?"

This is a big question that is difficult to really answer if we take a solely scientific position.  For the moment, I will revert back to being an atheist and will become a devil's advocate.

We all know of the monolithic structure named "Stonehenge" in Wiltshire, England.  These structures are made of huge rocks and seem to be in a circular position in the middle of a field.  To date, no one really knows why they are there, who/what made or constructed them (if they were made/constructed), and what was their purpose.  Some even believe the structure was created by extraterrestrials!  This idea is due to the massiveness of the stones which would have made it extremely improbably that ancient peoples in the area moved them using their own strength since the machinery used today did not exist then.  Moreover, the bluestones they are made of come from miles away which I will go more into depth as I write this post.

What is interesting is that Design Inference is given when studying these structures.  Archaeologists, Geologists and other scientific professionals automatically assume that these structures were designed or created by human beings.  This is interesting because it seems to contradict the stance in the Evolution debate that things appear due to random processes and are not designs from an intelligent conscious agent.  If this is the case, then we can see a clear bias among atheists and some in the scientific community who rely on word play when it comes to describing what is a result of random processes in nature and what is designed by an intelligence of some sort.

As a skeptic and atheist now (pretending), I will state that Stonehenge is the result of natural geological random processes.  I will use several examples to support this claim.

Devil's Mountain/Tower
1. "Devil's Mountain/Tower" in Wyoming.

This structure in Wyoming is a famous natural formation.  It was even used in the movie "Close Encounters" as the base for aliens who visited Earth. From a distance, the mountain is humongous.  As you get closer, you will notice that it has a unique structure that seems to defy nature. In a sense, it looks like it was constructed by human beings.  The outside of it almost looks like the facade of the World Trade Center's "Twin Towers."  However, unlike the "Twin Towers," the "Devil's Mountain/Tower" was not created or constructed by human beings.  There were no construction workers going about carrying construction materials as they built the mountain.  This mountain came to be via natural geological processes.

Geology tells us that the majority of the Devil's Mountain/Tower is composed of sedimentary rocks
Facade of "Twin Towers"
that were dissolved by water, wind or weathering. During the Triassic time period which was about 220 to 190 million years ago, there was a sea that surrounded and covered most of the central and western regions of the United States of America.

We know this because there is dark red sandstone, maroon siltsone, shale and other rocks that are found in the Belle Fourch river.  As the landscaped changed due to the receding of this sea and the appearance of magma which cooled forming phonolite porphyr, the "Devil's Tower" was formed from this process.  As the phonolite porphyr cooled, it formed columns that are separated by vertical cracks along the facade of the tower.  With weathering, the remaining sedimentary rocks eroded and began to wear away around the tower making it look as it was a column of sorts that was placed there being that the rest of the land is much lower.

In light of the facts that we know surrounding the formation of the "Devil's Mountain/Tower," I can say that Stonehenge was formed in a similar manner.  The  dolerite bluestones that compose the monolithic structure that we call Stonehenge come from an outcropping called Carn Meini which is on high ground in the Preseli hills of Wales just 2 miles away. Earth has had several Ice age periods where landscaped became completely covered with thick sheets of ice.  As the Ice Age came to a close and the climate changed, these sheets of thick ice melted down to mere glaciers that carried these large monolithic structures made of dolerite bluestone to its current location. The presence of the River Avon that empties into the Bristol Channel shows the water which remained from the last Ice Age.  It was there at what we now call Stonehenge that the huge stones rested.  They same process will happen again in the next Ice Age.  These stones will be moved to another location and may perhaps form a triangle or square.  It is not uncommon for stones to move.  We see this with the "sailing stones" at Death Valley in the United States.

As you can see, there is no reason whatsoever to suspect that Stonehenge was "designed" by an intelligent agent; in this case, man.  The natural processes we are aware of can create these structures without the need of intelligence, free will, tools or consciousness.  Therefore, the idea that the universe has an intelligent designer is illogical and ignorant of the ability of nature to develop things via random processes.  In 2005, the Discovery Institute had this to say, "Of course there's no way to falsify a mere assertion that a cosmic designer exists. This much we are agreed on."

How can we? Where would we look for to find this "cosmic designer?"

How many of you bought into this argument that Stonehenge was created via natural geological processes?  I am confident many of you think I am crazy for even suggesting that.  Do you see the dilemma here that atheism has?  Atheists and scientists who subscribe to the idea that the cosmos and all its contents can be explained via natural random processes will be quick to subscribe to the designer inference when it pertains to Stonehenge. There seems to be a double standard here or even cognitive dissonance.  Why do they accept evolution and the cosmos as being developed by random processes yet are quick to suspect that Stonehenge was created by primitive human beings thousands of years ago?  I clearly demonstrated how it is possible that Stonehenge was the result of natural geological processes.  What now?

What about formations outside of Earth?  Take these for example:

Here are some photos of the terrain of Mars, the fourth planet of our Solar System named after the "god of War."  In the first photo, we can clearly see "Valentine hearts."

Were these designed by Martians who were in love?

We know that this heart design is not typical in nature and is the result of human intelligence and creativity.  Human beings invented Valentine's day.  However, here they are on a foreign planet. How do we explain these?  Are these hearts natural formations or intelligent design at work?  The answer is the former.  These are natural formations that have occurred on Mars millions of years ago due to impacts from foreign bodies such as asteroids or meteors.

How about this famous image of the "Face on Mars?"  There was even a movie made years ago where humans explored Mars and discovered this face was a temple of sort where on astronaut activated a hologram of the extraterrestrials who inhabited Mars and who seeded Earth with their DNA.

Is this image a natural formation, intelligent design at work or just the human mind using pareidolia?  There is clearly a structure with a face.  What is it really?  Well we know this is a natural formation because it is part of the Martian terrain.  However, we also know that our brains are hardwired to spot facial features which makes this image an effect of pareidolia.  The angles of the structure create shadows which our brains give depth and dimension to.

What about this image that sort of looks like a Samurai or even Batman.


If we can disqualify these images as being the product of natural geological processes and cognitive compensation instead of the work of intelligent design, then why can we not disqualify by the same means the structures at Stonehenge?

It seems that atheists and some scientists hold a particular bias when it comes to processing the idea of an intelligent designer when it comes to the cosmos and biological life.  Despite knowledge showing that DNA is extremely complicated and the odds against the formation of DNA by chance alone are 10^40,000 to 1, atheists and some scientists are quick to dismiss intelligent design (Hoyle, 1981).  A scientist is supposed to be able to think freely and process any hypotheses.  Once he or she dismisses ideas without properly studying them, he or she is committing one of the mortal sins of experimental science: confirmation bias.  If a scientist enters research already convinced of the outcome, then that research is tainted with his or her bias and must be thrown out.

Atheists and those scientists who are quick to dismiss the possibility of intelligent design are falling into this bias and therefore disqualified their objectivity.  How can we trust their research, ideas and opinions?  This is a big dilemma for atheists if they resort to cherry picking when something is either formed via natural random processes or when it is the work of human beings, or intelligent design based on their bias.  I will continued on this topic in the next installment Atheism Dilemma VII using coding and how God does not have to be a micro-manager; therefore refuting the "god of gaps" fallacy atheists often subscribe to.

Editor's Note:  There seems to be some confusion regarding my hypothetical scenario which I described in this post to make a point of how atheists and some scientists tend to assume design inference in some cases and in others cases, random natural processes.  A Twitter user who created a blog fixated on me is claiming that I posted errors regarding Stonehenge and the origin of stones used in its construction.  The reality of the matter is that this individual does not comprehend what he reads and is only looking to discredit my posts via false accusation.

I wrote:

"As a skeptic and atheist now (pretending)."  Then later on in the post I start with: "I can say..."

These phrases clearly indicate that my intention was to posit a hypothetical scenario where I (pretending to be an atheist) again am using random natural processes over design inference in order to explain the causation of Stonehenge.

Anyone who does not understand this nor does not understand hypothetical scenarios or prose in this case needs to take remedial courses in reading comprehension.

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