Monday, February 26, 2007


Dominic J. Balestra on 'Science and Religion'

I present, for your interest, a series of quotes from Professor of Philosophy (Fordham University, New York) Dominic J. Balestra's paper on 'Science and Religion' from Brian Davies OP (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide to the Subject, (Continuumm, 2003):

'...the last twenty-five years of scientific discussions about origins, and the new, post-Kuhnian philosophy of science, present a significantly transformed context... it removes an old barrier (the hard demarcation) between science and theology and, thereby, clears a way for new avenues of exchange between these disciplines... [we live in] a time when the results of science in cosmology and biochemistry have produced findings salutary to religion, and philosophy of science has removed old walls of separation... Because certain types of explanations (for example, moral duty as an explanation for someone's behaviour) are ruled out of science for methodological reasons, it does not follow that such explanations tout court do not contribute to our understanding. Nonetheless, they [i.e. such methodological strictures] rule out any other kind of explanation, metaphysical or theological, of astronomical origins or of biochemical mechanism or of evolutionary development. In general, such scientistic thinking illustrates what the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead has described as "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness." The issue of scientism stands in a critical intellectual juncture between science and theology... Nonetheless, it is a fact that some results of the latest scientific cosmology has ignited an astonishing discussion among physicists, philosophers and theologians... Most philosophers of science have abandoned the quest for demarcation...'

In other words, scientistic folk may exclude intelligent design from science by errecting philosophical rules of exclusion, but most philosophers of science recognize such rules as being merely arbitrary rules that do nothing but get in the way of pursuing the truth about reality. Scientistic demarcation criteria should not prevent us from following the evidence from cosmology and biochemistry when it points in the direction of desgin, even if the other side of the elephant marked 'intelligent design' might be marked 'God.'

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


For Your Attention

The Discovery Institute's list of peer reviewed ID publications has been updated (and even now it is not comprehensive)

Over 700 scientists have now signed the Dissent From Darwinism list (that's over a hundred more since last year's press release)

Phillip E. Johnson has a new article on ID in Think, the journal of the Royal Instutuite of Philosophy

Finally: William Lane Craig Debate and Lecture Tour

Reasonable Faith: A tour of lectures and debates with William Lane Craig, presented by Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF). Craig is one of today's leading Christian philosophers and apologists. He is in great demand across Europe and the USA, yet remarkably is largely unknown in the UK. His lectures and debates are world class and appeal to sceptics and believers alike. Entry to all events is free. No booking required. for more details.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


The God Delusion Deconstructed - at Southampton University

An audio recording of my recent presentation on The God Delusion at Southampton University, together with my powerpoint presentation (sans video clips) is now available for download from


Wired Magazine, 'What We Don't Know About....'

This month's edition of Wired Magazine contains a section on 'What We Don't Know About...' which includes the following interesting comments:

'Where did life come from?

... What creates life out of the inanimate compounds that make up living things? No one knows. How were the first organisms assembled? Nature hasn't given us the slightest hint. If anything, the mystery has deepened over time. After all, if life began unaided under primordial conditions in a natural system containing zero knowledge, then it should be possible - it should be easy - to create life in a laboratory today. But determined attempts have failed... no one has come close... Did God or some other higher being create life? ...Until such time as a wholly natural origin of life is found, these questions have power. We're improbable, we're here, and we have no idea why. or how.' - Gregg Easterbrook, p. 108.

This quote is very revealing because it is a secular admission that: a) if chemical evolution is viable 'it should be easy' to reproduce in the lab, but determined attempts to do so have met with repeated and total failure (what's the nature inference here then..?!); b) the naturalist's problem is explaining life in terms of a closed natural system 'containing zero knowledge' - i.e. the problem is explaining the origin of information (hence ID is right to call attention to this problem); c) the suggestion that some higher being who may or may not be God created life has 'power' in the absence of an adequate naturalistic explanation of the data, hence ID is currently an explanatory hypothesis with 'power'!

'How Does The Brain Produce Consciousness?

...Nobody really knows how... scientific theories on consciousness are all over the map... Some philosophers still argue that consciousness is too subjective to explain, or that it is the irreducible result of matter organised in a specific way. That philosophic black-boxing is probably more nostalgic than scientific, a clinging to the idea of a spirit or soul. Without that, after all, we're just organisms - more complex, but no less predictable than dung beetles. But scientists live to reduce the seemingly irreducible, and sentimentality is off limits in the lab. Understanding consciousness means finding the biophysical mechanisms that generate it. Somewhere behind your eyes, that meat becomes the mind.' - Richard Rhodes, p. 116.

This is fascinating, a frank admission of ignorance and an implicit commitment to both scientism and reductionism. Rhodes ignores the fact that 'philosophers still argue that consciousness is too subjective to explain [naturalistically]...' and explains away the non-reductive beliefs of these philosophers as 'sentimentality'! Since when have philosophical arguments been mere pieces of sentimentality? Since when has science been defined as the attempt to reduce the seemingly irreducible? All reduction has to stop sometime and somewhere, hence science cannot be an eternal quest to reduce, but a quest to understand the truth about reality, and if it is possibly true that mind is one of those irreducible realities that science must acknowledge, then a science dedicated to reductionism is a science dedicated to forever failing to understand the truth about the mind! A philosopher might point out that if we are just organisms, as 'predictable as the dung beetle', this sort of determinism applied to rational discourse is self-defeating. Apparently philosophers only argue for the irreducible nature of consciousness because they are sentimental, and scientists only argue for reducing mind (although they can't actually do it) because they are being as predictable as dung beetles, from whom we differ in complexity but not in quality... Rhodes ends with a dogmatic creedal affirmation that the mind is nothing but the brain, a claim the merits John Polkinghorne's label of 'promissory naturalism', an exercise in scientifically 'black boxing' consciousness into a sealed and empty black box labled 'a naturalistic understanding of consciousness'.

Friday, February 02, 2007


ISCID publish review of Dawkins' 'The God Delusion' by Peter S. Williams

The International Society for Complexity, Information and Design (ISCID) have published my primary review of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins on their 'archive' site:

Peter S. Williams, '
The Big Bad Wolf, Theism and the Foundations of Intelligent Design:
A Review of Richard Dawkins’, The God Delusion, (Bantam, 2006)'

They have managed to mislay all my footnotes however - I think they've been having techical problems because I was asked to re-send the paper... Perhaps the footnotes will catch up one day... Still, its nice to be published :-)

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