Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Can You Design a Better Universe?

Rich Deem of Evidence for God has issued a challenged to those who claim that the universe is poorly designed or clearly not the product of design.

Deem has given the opportunity to those he describes as "type A atheists who know something about physics and theology" to create a universe superior to the one we find ourselves inhabiting.

You can take the challenge here.

Courage and Godspeed,


John Moore said...

The implication is that people are prideful to point out awkward things in creation. If you're so smart, you must think you're smarter than God, huh?

Well, he's taking it way out of proportion. I don't think I'm better than God. I just think we could have our exact same universe except the laryngeal nerve would not get tangled up with the aorta, and that would be better. Just slightly better, mind you.

When apologists blow these arguments out of proportion, I suspect it's because they don't really want to engage with the argument. It's like they're changing the subject. Well, I just wish we could have a good discussion focused on the argument itself.

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Moore,

I think you are making some assumptions here regarding Mr. Deem's motives that I don't see how your could sustain and I simply thought the link was an interesting manner to encourage people to think about the teleological argument.

"Well, I just wish we could have a good discussion focused on the argument itself."

The irony of this statement is the fact that you seem to be focused on discrediting the apologist instead of "the argument itself."


John Moore said...

So about the laryngeal nerve, what do you say?

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Moore,

While I freely admit that this is not an area of expertise, I would say the follow:

1. Even if this is an example of "poor design," I'm not sure how this would refute design. Technology has imperfections as well, but it's still designed. Imperfect design or poor design is still design.

2. For one to declare that something is poorly designed, they would have to know the intent of the designer. It may well be the case that the designer had a reason for designing in the manner in which He did.

3. Finally, perhaps this is not an example of poor design?


John Moore said...

OK, great. Here are my ideas about your three points:

1) You're right that it doesn't refute design, but it makes you wonder whether the designer is perfect and omniscient. If God is the designer, he should be a perfect designer, I suppose. But maybe the ID people are right and the designer isn't necessarily God.

2) This is the best response, I think, and it's what Rich Deem was perhaps suggesting with his design challenge. Maybe God intended to make the laryngeal nerve go that way, and maybe some bad consequences would have developed otherwise. We just don't know all of God's deep mysteries.

3) That page you linked to on Evolution News and Views merely points out that there are other nerves besides the circuitous one. But the question remains as to why that one nerve is circuitous.

I admit I'm also no expert about these biological things, but it's fascinating to study.

Andrew Ryan said...

"Even if this is an example of "poor design," I'm not sure how this would refute design. "

I think the point is that it bears the signs of evolution rather than design. It looks like something that ended up that way because it was created by a process that couldn't 'go backwards' – once the nerve was routed that way in an 'earlier species', it couldn't be reset, something that stands out particularly in the giraffe, where the nerve travels several feet down and back up.

It you went into a room and saw that a power cable lead travels from a light a few yards across a wall, bends around a piano leg, then travels a few yards back to a plug right next to the light, we can surmise that there was an interior designer who had intentions we can't fathom, but it might seem more likely that the lead simply got tangled round the piano leg in the past, and then got taken with the piano as the instrument gradually got shifted across the room with time (especially if we see other evidence such as grooves in the carpet left by the moving piano).

At the very least, even if we conclude that the placing of the lead was deliberate, we might rule out someone else's theory that the interior designer was not only a genius, but the greatest interior designer possible, and that we're simply not smart enough to work out why he'd place the lead in such a way that it looks exactly like it simply got dragged behind the piano leg over time.

"they would have to know the intent of the designer"

We're looking for the explanation that best fits the evidence. If we see a big splat of paint on the ground, I guess it's POSSIBLE that it was created by an artist whose intentions we can't work out, but it might seem more likely that a pot simply got accidentally spilled.