The Centre for Unintelligent Design


The Centre for Unintelligent Design, a pro-science, anti-creationist website, has received a letter from the esteemed Dr. Steve Fuller, one of the witnesses for the ID side during the Dover trial. Responding to the argument that examples of unintelligent design support evolution but not special creation, Fuller ducks into the punch:

From: Steve Fuller
Sent: Sep 18, 2011
To: Keith Gilmour

Dear Keith,

Thanks for this. You might perhaps make more headway with ID people if you understood the position better. The problem
of apparent ‘unintelligent design’ in nature is one that people with ID sympathies have long tackled. Simply look up the
literature on ‘theodicy’.

Steve Fuller

But as Keith Gilmour points out, theodicy is a purely religious idea. There isn’t a lick of science in it, thus proving the point that ID is nothing more than a religious belief masquerading as science. Rick Pearcey, husband of IDer and young earth creationist Nancy Pearcey, makes an equally silly response on their website.

Apparently, some 88 seconds ago, or several thousands of seconds ago, or millions or billions of seconds ago, the Centre for Unintelligent Design did not exist. And then, on the 89th second (or other such temporal numerical value), some aspect of time, space, and matter burped, and Lo & Behold, into being came the Centre for Unintelligent Design.

This contingent universe being what it is (or is not), you had better read all about this newish (or is it oldish, or do the words “new” or “old” — without or without “ish” — have meaning in a contingent universe?) website as soon as possible.

With each click of the tick-tock the Centre for Unintelligent Design may well uncreate itself back into the meaningless self-caused (or non-self-caused) nonexistence from which it emerged, lived, breathed, and for a while expressed its arbitrary being in a universe that couldn’t care less.

One last thing: Did the website for The Centre of Unintelligent Design have a website designer? Just wondering.

Get it? It’s so simple. The website had a designer and therefore the universe must have one. Because it’s so incredibly complex. But the designer must be at least equally complex, right? So why doesn’t the designer require a designer? Because they said so, of course. They have gone round the world many times trying to find the beginning of the equator and, upon tiring of the journey, planted a flag and declared the question answered. But declaring it answered is not the same thing as actually answering it.

Fuller, you may recall, is the philosopher of science who testified at the Dover trial for the defendants. His position, which he actually delivered with a straight face, was that while it didn’t appear that intelligent design was really valid, the only way it could ever be shown to be valid was if there were a group of young devotees to do the research and try to flesh it out — and the only way to do that, he argued, was to teach it in schools. He actually referred to it as a sort of affirmative action program for fringe ideas in science.

Comments

  1. ManOutOfTime says

    What the hell is wrong with these people? Is this really the only way they could think to make a living? I’m embarrassed for them, grown men (and women) churning out this complete nonsense and drivel. Seriously, the guy wrote a letter suggesting the UID guy Google “theodicy” ? WTF?

  2. gshelley says

    Is one of the common answers in theodicy that things are bad because God is a sadist or incompetent?
    I’m certainly not an expert and it has no real interest for me, but I’d got the impression that it was all about reconciling the presence of evil and suffering with an omni-benevolent god. While this may be able to account for “degeneration” it isn’t going to explain the outright bad “design” seen when evolution modifies existing embryonic pathways

  3. Aquaria says

    What the hell is wrong with these people?

    Being brainwashed into a cult.

    Is this really the only way they could think to make a living?

    Consider it affirmative action for the stupid and deluded.

  4. Doc Bill says

    What a moron that Fuller guy is! He spelled “idiocy” wrong.

    It’s a pet peeve of mine (actually, I have an entire zoo of peeves) that the IDiots can never give a simple answer to a simple question.

    In science, one could be asked to give a sentence or two on any topic and you could get a pretty good sense of the idea. Take “Germ Theory,” for example. There exist tiny organisms that can get into your body and cause disease. Nobody ever says “Google cholera” or go read a book on diseases of mankind.

    Except the IDiots. You never get a definition. It’s always “go read Behe” or Dembski. The rub is that reading Behe or Dembski will get you no further along.

    Nice reply, Fuller, glad to see you’re keeping up on your Pee Wee Herman!

  5. helenaconstantine says

    What means by telling us t look into theodicy, is that the design of the universe is screwed up because of the fall, which, as stated, is an admission that ID is really bible-thumping Christianity. And, of course, they infer design from the perfection of the universe. Interesting they can have it both ways.

  6. raven says

    Steve Fuller is a spectacular example of a failed philosopher.

    He is widely regarded as a quack by both philosophers and scientists.

    His central fallacy is Postmodernism. It doesn’t work for science. There is only one real world and one objective reality, and they don’t care one bit what humans think about them.

  7. raven says

    Dr. Steven Fuller, BTW, is an immature defective personality.

    Norman Levitt, scourge of postmodernism, and author of books such as Higher Superstition (with Paul Gross) and Prometheus Bedeviled, has died of heart failure aged 66.

    Steve Fuller, a British sociologist, responded to this sad news by writing an ‘obituary’ that was… well let us say ill-judged. For example:

    I believe that Levitt’s ultimate claim to fame may rest on his having been a pioneer of cyber-fascism, whereby a certain well-educated but (for whatever reason) academically disenfranchised group of people have managed to create their own parallel universe of what is right and wrong in matters of science, which is backed up (at least at the moment) by nothing more than a steady stream of invective

    He is famous for being an idiot, and also for dancing on the grave of one of his opponent philosophers. With people like Fuller, you can be sure that, if he can stab you in the back (metaphorically), he will stab you in the back.

    Don’t ever trust anyone like that.

  8. says

    If the Fall resulted in our current imperfect Universe, why didn’t omnipotent God fix it? Instead he behaves all pass-aggresive and lets everyone suffer for the mistakes of two people. No, don’t tell me, it’s all part of his plan that we mere mortals can’t understand. You’d think they could come up with a better excuse, like say that God is just busy on other projectcs, and he’ll fix things up any day now. Of course that would throw a gear into the whole omnipotence thing.

  9. Chiroptera says

    Did the website for The Centre of Unintelligent Design have a website designer? Just wondering.

    I dunno. Why should I believe that the website had a designer?

    Serious question. Suppose that I had no idea about websites or how they come into existence. What would lead me to believe that this particular website had a designer? Of course, it’s complexity or “purpose” don’t count as reasons, since those are the conclusions that we are trying to establish.

    I think if we were to seriously examine the question, the evidence for a designer for the website don’t actually apply to the universe (or to the internal working of biological species).

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    Simply look up the
    literature on ‘theodicy’.

    Yes, please do. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

    Theodicy [1] is a theological and philosophical study which attempts to prove God’s intrinsic or foundational nature of omnibenevolence (all-loving), omniscience (all-knowing), and omnipotence (all-powerful).

    The fundamental dilemma of theodicy is the problem of evil: its continuing existence and God’s apparent inability or unwillingness to eradicate it…

    So there is a serious disconnect between the evil observed in the world and the purportedly omni-benevolent God of western philosophy. Theodicy is the exercise of attempting to explain away this disconnect.

    1) As Ed noted, theodicy is about religion and theology, not about science.

    2) Attempts to explain away the dilemma of the problem of evil have not been very successful. The field is so piss-poor that it is better labeled apologetics than philosophy.

  11. The Christian Cynic says

    Okay, time to put on my advocatus diaboli hat for a moment:

    I agree that creationism is not scientific, mostly (but not solely) because it denies well-accepted/-attested science, and insofar as the Centre is opposing that denialism, we’re still in the realm of science. But honestly, the suggestion of unintelligent design is as much science as the suggestion of that some feature is the work of an intelligent designer – which is to say, not at all. (Note: I know that virtually everyone who brings up the “unintelligent design” argument is suggesting that there wasn’t a designer, but hang with me for a minute here.)

    Suppose we have an objective way of detecting design in nature. (I doubt that such a thing is possible, since design detection appears, at least to me, to be a wholly subjective matter, but let’s suppose it is possible for the sake of argument.) If there is, and something that is quintessentially natural meets that test, then questions of intelligence or a lack thereof in design then become (again, AFAICT) extra-scientific questions, presuming that the designer’s identity is still unknown. This is something that a fair number of IDists have explicitly stated – that theology and philosophy would take over from science if design was identified – but it would be equally true for those arguing that the design was poor or suboptimal.

    Of course, ID has never gotten past the first step (using science to establish that some natural feature is the product of a sentient creature’s design), so the second question, despite its utility in making the true desires of IDists/creationists clear, has never really been necessary to answer.

  12. Michael Heath says

    The Christian Cynic:

    This is something that a fair number of IDists have explicitly stated – that theology and philosophy would take over from science if design was identified – but it would be equally true for those arguing that the design was poor or suboptimal.

    Of course, ID has never gotten past the first step (using science to establish that some natural feature is the product of a sentient creature’s design), so the second question, despite its utility in making the true desires of IDists/creationists clear, has never really been necessary to answer.

    I don’t understand why theology would become relevant if design were empirically detected. Theology doesn’t provide any utility in explaining the results of ant behavior, why would it become useful if we detected a designed universe and its corresponding results?

  13. danielrutter says

    I think we may all be missing the point a little, here.

    Plainly, actual literal theodicy is irrelevant to the ID/evolution argument. But I think Fuller had to be talking about an equivalent concept for ID, the reconciliation of intelligent design with the many plainly non-intelligent “designs” seen in nature.

    Literal theodicy is indeed something of a mess; it’s very difficult to square an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God with the existence of evil.

    It’s much easier to square ID with currently-existent lousy designs, though. Just say, for instance, that your magic entity with the same skillset as God created life a long time ago, and since then mutation has messed stuff up. Ta-daah!

    Now, I challenge the statement that ID enthusiasts have ACTUALLY “long tackled” this problem, since they seldom seem to actually know about most, or indeed any, of the vast panoply of awful “designs” out there. But that doesn’t make it a good idea to complain about the shortcomings of literal theodicy when that doesn’t seem to be what Fuller actually meant.

  14. says

    “One last thing: Did the website for The Centre of Unintelligent Design have a website designer? Just wondering.”
    …and, since most of the universe (with the exception of that planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse) does not have a web site, therefore there is no ‘creator’ (intelligent or otherwise).
    Or did I miss something in his logic??

  15. heironymous says

    Yeah I’m definitely missing the creators’ website.
    And their documentation is atrocious.

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