Intelligent design advocates tell me what I believe


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I consider myself a materialist, by which I mean that I believe that I believe the physical universe, that of matter, energy, and spacetime, is all that exists. I don’t, in other words, believe in magic, or in magical beings. I wasn’t always a materialist; I’ve been a Christian, and I’ve also believed some (non-religious) mystical nonsense. If you prefer to classify my beliefs as physicalist, naturalist, or some other category, I don’t mind.

I don’t believe in the supernatural. I’m not too picky about what you call it.

As best I can tell, what most intelligent design advocates call it is materialism, and that’s what is important for the purposes of this post. Because those folks have some strange ideas about what materialists believe.

For example, Barry Arrington says

Staggeringly sophisticated systems such as the blood clotting cascade are not ordinarily assembled through the accretion of random errors.

Yet every materialist believes the claim as a matter of course.

I don’t believe that. I don’t know anyone who does.

Arrington also insists that, as a materialist, I must be a racist, I must be stupid (materialism makes me so):

Materialism makes people stupid

I can’t have ethics:

For a materialist the term “ethics” is empty of objective meaning…At the end of the day, for the materialist, ethical discussions always boil down to might makes right, and the strong impose their preferences on the weak.

I must espouse violence:

The materialist must necessarily believe that human beings are nothing but clever hairless apes with no more intrinsic value than dogs…Lenin famously justified murdering anti-communists by quipping, “to make an omelet you have to break some eggs.” Of course, the “eggs” in that sentence represent human lives. And if you are a materialist who believes that a human has no more intrinsic value than an egg, the sentiment makes perfect sense.

can’t know right from wrong:

What makes something “right” from a materialist perspective? Absolutely nothing at all.

And the fact that you know for a certain fact that some things are right and some things are wrong is fundamentally incompatible with your materialism.

and I can’t even conclude that the Holocaust was immoral:

Assume:

(1) That atheistic naturalism is true.

(2) One can’t infer an “ought” from an “is.”

If these two things are true, nothing exists from which we can infer any moral principle. If moral principles cannot be inferred, nothing is prohibited by any moral principle and therefore all things are permitted. This leads to the conclusion that the Holocaust was permitted.

According to Denyse O’Leary, I can’t believe the the mind exists, or love, I mustn’t believe in intellectual freedom, and (as a Darwinist) I “do not think a human child is ultimately of any more significance than a pillbug egg.

I’m not allowed to use a whole host of concepts, according to William J. Murray, because they are “stolen” when materialists use them:

…when materialists argue, they necessarily employ stolen concepts, such as those referred to by the following terms and more: “I”, “we”, “prove”, “evidence”, “reason”, “logic”, “determine”, “conclude”, “error”, “fact”, “objective”, “subjective”, etc.

In fact, anything I argue at all is self-refuting:

…whenever a materialist argues, they can only do so based on non-materialist assumptions, and they do so in contradiction to their own stated core beliefs.

Ann Gauger says I can’t believe in rational thought:

The materialist view says thought is an epiphenomenon and what we think is the product of material processes in the brain, processes that are biochemically and genetically determined. Free will and rationality are an illusion.

According to Eric Metaxis, I can’t believe in life itself:

In what our friend Eric Metaxas calls the “scientistic materialist” perspective, there is not only no ultimate purpose or meaning to life. “If we are just material beings,” says Eric, “then there is actually no such thing as life,” either. [as quoted by David Klinghoffer]

According to David Klinghoffer, I must deny that minds exist:

The denial of the mind, an immaterial power, is one of the dogmas of scientific materialism…

Of course, Mr. Klinghoffer also denies that I exist (in a sense), so that’s fair.

According to Wesley J. Smith, I believe humans are nothing but carbon molecules:

Materialists insist that, in the end, all we are is carbon molecules, which implies that how we lived has no ultimate meaning once we are dead.

So wait, are we coal, graphite, graphene, or Buckyballs? Certainly not diamonds.

According to Michael Egnor, I can’t have a coherent theory of mind:

Materialist theories of the mind border on the insane.

I must be intellectually and morally depraved:

“Reason is no different from a kick…” My goodness. Could you ask for a clearer example of the intellectual and moral depravity that ensues from atheism and materialism?

and I must be deeply ignorant of reality:

Materialism, properly understood, purports to afford knowledge, but its salient contribution to modernity is the ignorance it demands. Materialism is a denial of reality. It’s an impoverished superstition, hardly more than magical thinking. Materialism is an amalgam of unexamined presuppositions, delusions of explanatory relevance, smug scientism, self-refuting pretense, and witless non-sequiturs posing as “scientific” conclusions…

Materialism demands a deep ignorance of reality, and it deserves to be judged as a kind of intellectual darkness.

I am really awful according to these folks: stupid, racist, unethical and immoral, “depraved”, an advocate of violence and a Holocaust apologist. Not to mention ignorant, deeply ignorant! I believe all kinds of absurd things, such as that life and minds don’t exist and that humans are coal. I deny reality and spread my impoverished superstition like the intellectual darkness it is. I can understand if you don’t want to be friends with me. I never knew how horrible I am; I don’t even want to be friends with me anymore!

For the record, I don’t believe any of these things. I don’t espouse violence. I don’t think the Holocaust was okay, or that children are equivalent to isopods, or that humans are nothing but carbon. I believe in life, love, minds, rational thought, and intellectual freedom. Why, then, do intelligent design advocates say all of these things about me? Why do they want you to believe that I’m a stupid, ignorant, evil person?

I can’t say, because I’d have to use a bunch of stolen concepts like ‘reason’ and ‘conclude’, and any argument I made would be self-refuting anyway. What do you think?

Comments

  1. quotetheunquote says

    I think there is no hope for these people; they have neither intellectual nor moral sense.

    They spread patently absurd nonsense about the materialist point of view, because the very concept of argument based on reason is utterly foreign to them (presupposition is all; they have the truth already, why seek it?).

    Morally, they have no ground to stand on, because they believe that the only reason behaving in a moral way is to avoid punishment from a big hairy thunderer; a morally bankrupt position, in my opinion.

  2. Jazzlet says

    Pretty much all of those quotes beg the question, which in my experience is pretty typical and permits the kind of ridiculous dross they end up spouting.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Having said all these things, creationists then get to strut around proclaiming their own moral superiority because “evolutionists” get so angry.

  4. brucegee1962 says

    When I was a theist, one of the biggest things that made me give up on the Bible was when I read a pro-slavery tract written in the 1850s. It used some of the same arguments that anti-gay Christians use now: Maybe our limited human understanding might make us think that slavery is wrong, but God Himself has given the institution the OK in his Very Own Book. I had to conclude that, yes, the Bible definitely does say that slavery is fine. That’s where basing your morality on a very old book can lead you.

  5. says

    What makes something “right” from a materialist perspective? Absolutely nothing at all.

    This is terribly funny if the alternative is to believe “right” comes from a being outside space and time.

    For what do we mean by “something” but matter and/or energy that exists within time and space. If there is nothing that exists within time and space that gives us “right”, then there is nothing that exists that gives us “right”.

    For those who believe that “right” comes from a god who exists outside of time and space, they are of necessity arguing that “right” comes from … nothing that exists.

    It’s all a bit more complicated than that, since the person writing this phrase doesn’t necessarily believe that “right” comes from a god outside time and space, but certainly the critique seems to squarely apply to the outside-time-and-spacers.

    • Matthew Herron says

      If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward then, brother, that person is a piece of shit.

      –Rust Cohle, True Detective S01E03

  6. rjdownard says

    This is as tidy a review of the hectoring on what anti-evolutionists insist is in other people’s heads as I’ve seen. Thank you, Matt! (I’m putting this in my TIP data field, and will be citing it in the materialism section of the new “Rocks Were There” book for this very reason). Since that book is about YECers, IDers are clearly not alone in this a priori dogmatism. It simply reflects a deep-seated assumption that literally everything true and worthy must come exclusively from their religious font, though few can surpass the smug certitude of the ID set in expressing it. In that mindset, all else is parasitical reflection. In that sense, bereft of the “Truth”, you and I and like-minded people must be depraved monsters, or too stupid to realize we are such.

  7. ridana says

    Materialism, properly understood, purports to afford knowledge, but its salient contribution to modernity is the ignorance it demands. Materialism is a denial of reality. It’s an impoverished superstition, hardly more than magical thinking. Materialism is an amalgam of unexamined presuppositions, delusions of explanatory relevance, smug scientism, self-refuting pretense, and witless non-sequiturs posing as “scientific” conclusions…

    Materialism demands a deep ignorance of reality, and it deserves to be judged as a kind of intellectual darkness.

    This guy was projecting so hard here he probably blew himself backwards through the wall and into the next county.

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