Ken Miller Twists William Dembski's Methods for Inferring Intelligent Design
The PREFACE to William Dembski's foundational work, The Design Inference (1997)
The Collapse of Ken Miller
Ken Miller's Response
Ken Miller: "Blame the BBC's bad editing"
Then What is Ken Miller Talking About?: Miller Passes the Blame, Promotes a Straw Man
Dembski comments on the hypocrisy of Darwinist criticisms of Expelled
Ken Miller’s Strawman No Threat to ID
PZ Myers' Driftwood Delusions
Source: Uncommon Descent: The flaw is not in the science, the flaw is in the logic
Let’s move on to one of the more outspoken and zealous (read: tiresome and obnoxious) advocates of the atheist/Darwinist worldview, P.Z. Myers. Dr. Myers is an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris, a satellite of the main state university, or as David Klinghoffer put it, “well known as the Harvard of Morris, Minnesota.” In a lecture at the Atheist International Alliance in 2009 (Burbank, Ca.) entitled Design vs. Chance, Myers administered, what he considered to be, a thorough thrashing of Intelligent Design. What actually occurred, as I will try to demonstrate, is that he stuck both feet so deep in his mouth, that it would have required a team of expert podiatrists to make things right again. I leave it to the reader to decide for him or herself which of those options more closely mirrors reality.
Myers began by presenting a brisk summary of Intelligent Design theory:
“The core of the argument is this: (A) Complexity can only be created by a designer, (B) Biology is really complex, (C) Biology was created by design”He then poses the following to his audience,
“What about the whole complexity issue? We biologists will freely admit that things are really complicated inside the cell. So how do we explain it? Don’t we have to resort to a Creator? And we say, of course not. There’s lots of things that are very complicated [and aren’t the result of an intelligent creator]. I’ll show you an example here.”At this point in his PowerPoint presentation there is a photograph showing a rather large pile of driftwood along what is obviously a coastline. Myers informs us that it is Rialto Beach in upper Washington State. He continues...
“And this is a very common thing along beaches ... driftwood. You find these walls of driftwood between you and getting down to the beach, real walls, very complicated walls. It has been constructed, who did it? We know the answer, natural processes did it. We don’t need a designer to build this kind of wall. This is complex, you simply can’t deny it. If I turn the projector off would you be able to draw it? No.”To be honest, when I saw this lecture for the first time, I thought Myers was joking. A pile of driftwood as being analogous to the “complexity” of a living cell?! Myers is arguing that since a “complex” and “complicated” pile of driftwood can accumulate through an undirected natural process, so can a living cell. I guess if by “complexity” you mean a chaotic collection of junk, then I would have to agree; a large pile of driftwood is certainly “complex”. In any case, no self-respecting ID theorist would ever use the term “complexity”. The terms that are always used are “functional complexity” or “specified complexity”. In other words, complexity that achieves some pre-determined goal, complexity that clearly functions towards a specific purpose. The argument is that functional complexity and specified complexity clearly are the result of intelligent intervention. A pile of driftwood is immediately recognizable for exactly what it is; a random, disorganized, purposeless collection of ... well, driftwood! To describe this argument as flawed logic would be misleading; we first would have to dignify it by labeling it as some form of logic in the first place. It is not flawed logic, it is simply ridiculous.
It may be hard to believe, but it gets worse. A photograph of an expertly-constructed brick wall surrounding a garden flashes on the screen.
“On the other hand we are familiar with this kind of wall. So this is also a wall, it’s one that we can recognize that has a specific purpose, that was built by human agents, and I’d have to say that of these two walls, which one is simpler? The human built one ... When we look at natural walls [i.e driftwood] what we discover is natural things are built by chance and necessity, they are functionally unspecified, there’s nothing that says that a pile of driftwood is a wall ... and they tend to be complex. In this sense, complex often means sloppy, but it’s still complex. Artificial walls [i.e. the brick wall] are built with intent, they are functionally very specific ... and relatively simple.”Let’s follow this “logic” as it leads us straight into a train wreck:
Does Myers actually expect us to believe that the simplest living organism that exists, a bacterium – which is, in the words of Australian microbiologist Michael Denton, “a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of elegantly designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up of all together one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machinery built by man and without parallel in the non-living world ... an object resembling an immense automated factory ... carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth” is assembled like a pile of driftwood on a beach? Isn’t it glaringly obvious that it resembles, not the “functionally unspecified” and chaotic collection of driftwood, but the “functionally very specific”, “built with a purpose”, and “built with intent” brick wall?! Has he gone mad? Has this man completely abandoned any semblance of rationality? How is it possible that his audience continues to sit through this nonsense, bobbing their heads up and down in approval like a pack of toy dogs on the back window of a car?
- Piles of driftwood are “functionally unspecified”, “sloppy”, are assembled randomly by natural processes and are considered to be “complex”.
- Brick walls are “functionally very specific”, have a “specific purpose”, are assembled by intelligent agents, and are considered to be “simple”.
- Ergo, a living cell which is “complex” is comparable to a pile of “complex” driftwood and has nothing in common with the “simple” and “functionally very specific” brick wall that obviously is the product of intelligent design.