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Steven Mading's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Steven Mading

Comment 4 by Kubrick :

Grayling is quite right.

Richard, I seem to recall you claiming that, before Darwin, Intelligent Design was a defensible position. (I hope I'm not distorting your view here; I'm thinking of the passage in "The Blind Watchmaker" in which you suggest that Darwin made it possible to be "an intellectually fulfilled atheist.")

I'm sympathetic to this view--after all, Darwin did provide a breathtakingly parsimonious and empirically sound argument for natural selection as the the cause of the illusion of design. Still, I'm tempted to say that even before Darwin, there was a fatal flaw in ID arguments, precisely the one that Grayling foregrounds here. Saying "God did it" does not solve the problem--it merely replaces the original problem with a new (and more insoluble) one. Perhaps this means that we should be careful not to overstate the link between Darwinism and atheism. In other words, even if there weren't a shred of evidence for Darwinian evolution, wouldn't ID remain an illogical and unsatisfying position?

Exactly. Darwin provided a really good additional reason to debunk creationism. But the basic philosophical flaw was there all along before Darwin. It is invalid to explain away complex thing A by inventing a more complex thing B when the only evidence you have for thing B is that invoking its existence means you don't have to say you don't know the cause for thing A. It's ironic that William of Ockham was a monk and wouldn't have realized his rule is a great argument against his own church's core belief.

I'm in awe of people like David Hume and Thomas Paine who worked out that the bible was lying prior to Darwin based only on the inherent flaw mentioned above.

Fri, 27 Jul 2012 13:00:12 UTC | #950156