Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Intelligent Design = Unintelligent Theology

Chana the Curious Jew has an amazingly detailed report on R' Natan Slifkin's speech entitled "The Heresy of Intelligent Design" yesterday evening at Yeshiva University's Stern College.

You can go over to Chana's place for the real deal, but a short summary of R' Slifkin's thesis is this:
'Intelligent Design' asserts that certain features of biology are unexplainable by evolutionary theory, and must have had been purposefully designed by an Outside Agent.
The problem with this from a Jewish perspective is that it's implying that the Creator of Worlds is intelligent enough and powerful enough to pre-design physical laws of the universe that could give rise to mountains, oceans, chimpanzees and venus flytraps, even the human brain — but somehow not well-designed enough to give rise to the bacterial flagellum.

R' Slifkin compared it to the difference between Microsoft and Apple; Microsoft is constantly coming out with patches to fix their programs, since they weren't so intelligently-designed in the first place, whereas Apple doesn't need to as often, because they made sure everything works properly before they release their programs.
To this, someone called out:
Now that's heresy!
Similarly, Judaism has a long history of seeing the glory and power of God through the natural world, through history, through all kinds of seemingly random processes; why would we abandon that perspective now? The idea that God created laws of nature which then work themselves out slowly and methodically towards the desired result is a more respectful view of the Deity than one where God has to keep on filling in the blanks where the original plan didn't work out.

After the lecture, the BrooklynWolf and I went to Eden Wok. I ate sushi. He did not. Sorry to anyone else who I saw there but didn't get a chance to really talk to.

I would also like to point out that when trying to convince people that Evolution is not a bad thing, it might help to pronounce it eh-volution and not evil-ution.



Blogger Kyaroko said...

You know, I've been reading all these frummie blogs (on & off) for over a year and I was in the same room with all you guys and didn't even know it! Sorry I missed out on the sushi. Maybe next time.

8/29/2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger heccy said...

As a microbiologist, i can say WOOHOO to someone recognizing the awesomeness of the flagellar structure. From the way its rotation is regulated to how it actually moves to how the expression of its genes is regulated is such a simple yet elegant way..sigh it fills my heart with a profound love of nature just thinking about it. However it does nothing for me with regards to theology. I remain an agnostic.

8/29/2006 2:39 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Next time sounds good!


woohoo indeed!
wave your arms in the air like a flagellum!

8/29/2006 10:52 PM  
Blogger Kylopod said...

ID advocates do not necessarily argue for a violation of "natural law." Michael Behe discusses the different possibilities in his book.

On another note, I've just written a critique of Robert Pennock (a critic of ID) in my latest blog entry.

8/30/2006 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

String theory seems to be on its way to explaining what might be the most random processes of all. Won't that be a kick if it really explains it all?

8/30/2006 11:02 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Ah, interesting. So how else is ID supposed to work?


What do you mean, string theory explains it all? Don't you know that Clarissa explains it all?

8/30/2006 11:30 PM  
Blogger Kylopod said...

Ah, interesting. So how else is ID supposed to work?

Michael Behe proposed several possibilities in his book Darwin's Black Box, among them that the first cell contained in it all the genetic information needed to guide the production of irreducibly complex structures. (I am probably not describing this idea accurately, but I don't have the book with me at this time.)

8/31/2006 6:04 AM  

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