Of Spaghetti Monsters and Pink Unicorns: A Refutation
The Intelligent Design (ID) movement has attempted to take empirical data and draw the conclusion that naturalism could not be possible. Naturalism is physicalism, saying that all that exists is physical matter and energy, that everything that exists is the result of blind natural forces and time. In contrast, the ID folks look at various parts of nature and draw the conclusion that a designer is necessary. ID proponent William Dembski has written about mathematical inferences, trying to show that naturalism could not be possible. Michael Behe has written about complex biological systems which he claims could not logically be the result of evolutionary natural selection. Opponents start from an assumption of naturalism and have written refutations of these men and others in the ID movement.
The ID community, in general, has been careful to not specify who or what this designer might be. They take pains to not bring a religious view into the conversation, attempting to not impact the view of the data by discussing God. Even though they do not specify what type of designer might have caused the data they observe, opponents accuse the ID community of thinly veiled religious views, intentionally labeling the ID movement as “intelligent design creationism” and expecting this to end the discussion. The general public needs to learn the logical fallacies called genetic fallacy, poisoning the well, and ad hominem, for the opponents of ID seem to use these quite effectively in their persuasion.
However, at least some atheist naturalists in the debate seem to hold that one cannot logically disprove a designer, therefore ID theory should not be considered credible. Dembski has answered this, making the claim that ID can be disproved by showing evidence to the contrary. So the debate goes on.
Meanwhile, the atheist naturalists have resorted to using ridicule as an attempt to discredit the ID community. Some in the atheist community have formed religious spoof organizations, a type of disproof by reducing to absurdity. The idea is instead of dealing with the scientific issues at face value, to discredit the ID movement by making absurd examples that supposedly show the weakness of the design argument. As the reasoning goes, if the ID folks posit an unnamed designer, which the atheists claim cannot be disproved, then this designer could just as easily be an absurd being. One group calls themselves the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (CoFSM). Another group uses a Pink Unicorn; years ago agnostic philosopher Bertrand Russell used a giant teapot. If some school board somewhere begins to discuss ID, the CoFSM sends letters demanding that the school adopt their spaghetti deity in the curriculum. While the middle school humor is obvious, I’m still wondering why this is supposed to be relevant…
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