Leaving Another Myth

Initially I thought this would be a bad idea. It feels like a violation of what this site is about. But the belief I'm rejecting is the last remnant of my forsaken faith, namely Intelligent Design.

As many of you know, I've popped up in arguments when articles about it have been posted here. I fought for it as an idea that could fit my view of a godless universe. And ultimately that's still true, Intelligent Design doesn't assume God, but it does assume a lot of other things. And I no longer wish to be associated with this ignorance.

Thanks to more study on my part, and allowing myself to open up to the information, I've come to understand and agree with the evolutionary worldview and process. As with religious conversion or erasure, a decision like this took time. And as it is, I still perk up a bit when someone mentions ID, but I am very proud of how the evolutionary process works, and I can see past the design argument, finally.

Brooklyn, New York
email: tastypaper AT gmail dot com


Anonymous said...

So what convinced you? I have had the argument with several otherwise rational people and have had no luck. I'd be interested to hear.

Anonymous said...

anon - It may have been nothing special. I know I had to wrestle with the cognitive dissonance between the bible and real life for a number of years before I finally rejected the Big Book of God and Other Myths.

The only kernel of wisdom in the BBGOM is the line that says 'the truth shall set you free.' And it did, finally.

Nvrgoingbk said...

Yes, Webmaster Dave, please enlighten us! I am getting ready to study evolution in Biology this week. I am excited about it, but I am so ignorant of the arguments. The common layperson has difficulty grasping molecular science, astronomy, physiology, etc. It's so much easier to just believe that "God did it" isn't it?

Theists have surpressed the information on the Theory of Evolution, because it doesn't fit their agenda. Now, I am not going to go out immediately and push the evolution theory until I am pretty confident of its validity, but I know with near confidence that all of religious man's "answers" to the origins of the species and the universe are CRAP!!!

It seems to me, as I look around at the world that man is still evolving even compared to "Biblical" times. We had the same resources on the planet then as we do now, yet man did not even consider that the world was round at once. Man did not consider the possibility once of electricity, pasteurization, immunization, etc. It seems to me (now this is just my own brain farting-i like the smell of my own thoughts) that man's brain is evolving. Am i the only one to observe this? How can the church look at the homosapien, see the advances he has made over the last many thousand years and not even CONSIDER evolution? Man, as does every creature, adapts to his environment. While the birds on the Galapagos Islands had beaks that adapted to their environment, it seems man's brain adapts to his, or rather that it is constantly challenged to use more and more of its potential as the millenia go by. The Egyptians were a pretty advanced race of people for their time, but mankind as a whole was no where NEAR the stage of neurological development as we are now. Just look at the mistakes in the Bible that claim that God made the sun stop in the sky so that the Israelites could defeat their enemies. HELLO! We all know now that the earth revolves around the sun! If anything stopped in the sky it would have been the Earth. Most of us at EX-christian know of the other embarrassing mistakes the Biblical writers made regarding "facts" we know know through observation are impossible so i wont mention them here, but this is an interesting conversation

Once again, Dave, please enlighten us as to what has led you to your most recent "conversion" :-)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... take massive amounts of matter and scatter it across the universe and eventually in at least 1 little pocket it will assemble itself into highly organzed states. Eventually it will create sentient, self aware beings. Why does this happen? Because that's they way the universe works. Why does the universe work that way? Science will never answer that, that is why there is room for intelligent design in some sense. The are certain numbers in the universe that if they were off by even the tiniest bit, life would be impossible.

Anonymous said...

The are certain numbers in the universe that if they were off by even the tiniest bit, life would be impossible.

But that is from our current end point of view. That life as we know it would be impossible. As we look at the end result of "life" at our current stage, we determine by looking back into history that only our outcome was possible.

But what how do we know what forces were at play? What variables, what other equilibriums may have been reached initially. It is like a tree diagram. With the root at the top where the universe began. Seen from this point of view, there were many possibilities, all viable, as they branched off to reach their end states in which only certain numbers allowed certain types of existence. Even life perhaps, completely foreign and bizarre to u s.

Yet, from the final node of each branch, as we look back we cannot see past the root and thus we believe that these certain numbers must be this way, because in a way it's true, they must be those values because that is the only way our version of the universe could exist.

The universe is so vast and old, and we understand so little of it.. would it be right to assume that this is the only way things could have turned out just because.. well, this is how things are now.

Dave Van Allen said...

This letter was sent in by a different "Dave." I didn't write it.

Sorry for any confusion.

Dave Van Allen said...

The are certain numbers in the universe that if they were off by even the tiniest bit, life would be impossible.

Absolutely correct!

Now, what you don't even realize is that you are presupposing that the development of life on Earth was in some sort of design plan. You are saying that the Earth, in fact the entire universe, is adapted to us.

Wrong. We are adapted to the Earth. We are adapted to the universe.

Here's an analogy. Fill a jagged hole in a rock with water on a winter night. Come back the next day and pull out the newly formed, jaggedly shaped ice cube. Look at the complexity of the ice cube and conclude that the jagged hole was designed so that the ice cube would be exactly that way.

Obviously that's backwards. The hole was not designed for the ice cube, the water and subsequent ice adapted to the shape of hole.

Archeology and palentology has clearly demonstrated that many thousands of bizzare types of life forms have lived, died and already gone extinct on this planet — some as many as millions of years ago.

Something on the planet changed "by even the tiniest bit" and creatures that once dominated the Earth for hundreds of millenia just died out. Other forms of life that could more readily adapt to the altered environment grew up and took dominence instead.

The Earth isn't adapated to us. We are adapted to it. If at any time we are no longer able to adapt to the Earth, or the changes that may come, then we too will die out.

To anyone really interested in this topic, and more, I recommend buying Atheist Universe, the Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism by David Mills.

Anonymous said...

grrr i left a beautiful reply, but it didn't post...

Anonymous said...

The Earth isn't adapated to us. We are adapted to it.

Our adaptation is still a natural phenomenon that was ordained at the beginning of the universe. The universe was only going to happen 1 way.

The "numbers" of the universe that i'm talking about are things like the strength of gravity and etc. If like the strength of gravity was any different, we'd have a vastly different universe.

Anonymous said...


Evolution is a fascinating thing to study. This post caught my attention, so I figured I would add to the thread.
First of all, classical life(carbon based life anyway)is tied to the same intergalactic goo that makes up planets, black holes and the entire universe. We are in fact made up of "star stuff"(as Carl Sagan once said). Sporadic evolution of life is a somewhat difficult idea to grasp. However, looking at it from a 'powers of ten' type of viewpoint, it all makes perfect sense. The human-understood version goes something like this: Subatomic particles are known to attract one another. Atoms gather into molecules. Molecules gather to form cells, cells form tissue, tissue forms organs, organs make up the organism, etc...
life is not divinely inspired, its inspired through convenience and nurtured not by god, but by all the factors which allow small particals to survive as larger units. A case in point is planets and suns. While they might not be classic examples of what we would consider 'life', they represent an interconectedness of smaller particles which make up the existing planet or star. The universe is full of such nontraditional life forms. Are humans alone in the universe? Not really. Its just difficult to relate our carbon-based, oxygen-breathing ilk to something that seems much less 'alive'. Is life rare? Not really. Where conditions are right, life will exist. Is there a god? Not really. Consider a cell in the human body... perhaps it is aware that there is something bigger than itself out there and that bigger thing is us. Does that make us gods and goddesses? Does that make Earth our God, or the sun our god? Where does it stop? Perhaps the smallest sub-atomic particles in everything in the universe are our gods. We are what we are thanks to atoms. The idea of god is a human construct in much the same way that the idea of "life" and "time" are inately human constructs. The universe is much larger than the average human being and not at all subject to influence by whatever humanity dreams up. Science at least knows that it is limited to a "paint-by-the-numbers" version of the universe while religion is, at most, a misunderstanding of how the universe works and is often mislabled "the truth". Religion is not based on numbers or fact, but based on hand-me-down beliefs collected from ancient times all the way up to recent times. Is religion inherited? No. Is it taught? Yes. Religion is not a natural part of humanity. It is a learned behaviour. Evolutionarily speaking,the propensity for irrationality, fear and gullibility may be inheritable (perhaps within the DNA as basic or lingering pre-human traits passed on through alleles or through some random mutation), but religion itself is not a heritable trait.

Anonymous said...

WOW, that is the finest piece of Reductionism I have ever read. Too bad it's still philosophy wrapped in science.

Dave Van Allen said...

"Our adaptation is still a natural phenomenon that was ordained at the beginning of the universe. The universe was only going to happen 1 way."

Uh, right.

You really need to read the link that Alan provided.

"If like the strength of gravity was any different, we'd have a vastly different universe."

Like if the strength of gravity were just a bit higher, we'd all have naturally bigger muscles? Hmm.

So, if the universe was designed specifically so that life would develop, I wonder why life is apparently so rare?

Oh,what a minute. I know this one: The Earth is the center of the universe! And humans are the pinnacle of God's creation!

Did I get it right?

Anonymous said...

According to the direct observational evidence, yes!

But that still doesn't imply intelligent manipulation.

Anonymous said...

Even if you argued that the universe seems to be rigged so that it would produce life forms like us, this would still not necessitate the existence of a designer: our universe can be (and if you think about it, almost has to be) one of an infinite number of universa.

Anonymous said...

No, even if you argued that the universe actually is rigged so that it would produce life forms like us, this would still not necessitate the existence of a designer:

Necessity itself is the mother of invention, so all you need is a plausible physical need for intelligent life to arise to satisfy that need.

Some scientists, like; James Kay, Eric Schneider, Dorion Sagan, and Scott Sampson think that this is to satisfy sharp energy gradients per the second law of thermodynamics, but the magnitude of the anthropic physics indicates that this effect would have to be universally affective, so there has to be something else that we do that makes this true, if the hypothesis is correct.

Anonymous said...

And whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city,shake off the dust of your feet. Verily, I say unto it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Matthew 10: 14-15

Sorry if this is offensive, but then again, I'm only quoting what Jesus said. Alright Dave, I'm over and out now.

Dave Van Allen said...

No anony, you're not quoting what Jesus said. No one knows if Jesus even existed, much less what he might have actually said. You are parroting words from a book that you believe contains the words of Jesus. However, this topic on which you're dropping your little quips is about evolution, ID, and coming to terms with these concepts, etc.

If you want to contribute to the discussion, then do so. If all you are interested in doing is derailing it with mindless religious preaching, then expect the comments to be deleted.

If you found yourself among a group of people in someone's house, I wonder if you would just interrupt a disccusion like this by quoting Bible verses. I doubt such behavior would be considered appropriate in that context. I can't imagine why anyone would think such behavior appropriate, anywhere.

Further attempts to derail this will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

To discuss the fine-tuning of the universe in this way fails to take into account the fact that our knowledge of the universe is actually extremely limited. Either claim - that life is rare, or prolific - is at best speculative.

You're confusing idle unsupported speculation with the specific and testable prediction that falls out of the physics, which is an entirely different thing.

The discovery of other earth-like planets in the universe allows for the possibility that life as we know it exists in other parts of the universe, though its specific characteristics might differ substantially from our own. However, were we to find an earth-like planet in the "habitable zone," we would still not be able to determine if life emerged on that planet or not. Nor would we be able to tell whether any existing life possessed a similar intelligence, mostly because we lack the technology to detect the kind of details we'd probably expect to see.

That's not necessarily true if existing life posseses similar intelligence, then we should expect similar technology, so we should expect to hear something from them any day now, since their radio transmissions should have been enroute for as long as ours have and neither have had time to make the trip. That's the whole purpose of SETI, and is also another testable prediction of the physics.

Furthermore, life may very well exist in forms we do not understand, on planets or other bodies that would be inhospitable according to our understanding of life. We are very far from being able to claim to be the only residents of the Milky Way, much less the rest of the universe.

No, the observed universe is well understood to be carbon-rich by a ratio of approximately 10:1, but carbon based molecules and chains also form more readily when the ratio is reversed, (as is the case on Earth!), 10:1 in favor of the next most plausible life-form that we have ever been able to imagine, (silicon based life), so there is absolutely no justification for speculation about other forms of life in context with the known physics.

Extra entities must be justified with something more than... "maybe conditions are different elsewhere".

As far as we know, scientists may someday instead be discussing how inefficient our little star system is compared to some other system that today has yet to be discovered. In other words, another star system that appears even more finely tuned. Who knows? We don't. And religion

You seem to be under the common impression that the physics is restricted to apply only to the Earth, but that is not true:

"Is the Strong Anthropic Principle Too Weak?"

Anonymous said...

Please don't confuse me as the other Anony quoting scriptures and stuff.

The thrust of my argument doesn't rest on the abundance or rarity of life, but that it does exist - and that it is the natural result of the very first action of the universe. A universe that is ordered and not chaotic. I am saying that intelligent design is plausible because we were ordained from the very first event.

Dave Van Allen said...

Who says the universe isn't chaotic? much of it looks pretty chaotic to me.

Anyway, Anony, just click on the "other" button and post using a pseudonym. Then you won't have to explain which anony you are.

Anonymous said...

I am saying that intelligent design is plausible because we were ordained from the very first event.

Being "ordained from the first event", doesn't necessitate an intelligent designer, so you have to prove that that we aren't simply a natural extension of the physical process or you're making an unfounded leap of faith to infer this from the evidence, which is all just fine-n-dandy, but it is not science.

Anonymous said...

Also I think that true randomness exists, therefore it would have been impossible to know exactly how the universe would unfold at its inception.

I think that you chaos believers are missing the point of the anthropic physics that indicates that we're not here by accident, unless you allow for infinite potential, i.e., a multverse.

--The observed structure of the universe occurs in dramatic contrast to the modeled expectation... so many fixed balance points that are commonly or "coincidentally" pointing directly toward carbon-based life indicate that there is some good physical reason for it that is somehow "specially" related to the existence of carbon-based life.--

Anonymous said...

Kinda like what Hawking said:

The universe is "largely" deterministic.

But it really depends on whether LaPlace's Demon or Uncertainty rule the day, and a basic tennent of probability theory is that the status of any event can be reduced to a certainty given enough information. Randomness is therefore the absence of information, and is, therefore, subjective.

I would very much recommend this article:

Choices -- Do We have Bechira?

Anonymous said...

I wish it would come to a head, already. So what's all this?..."Intelligent Design" cloaked in what?...internet authority?

I certainly hope it's not about the Christian biblegod as "Designer". Okay, so are we talking an "impersonal intelligence" that caused the singularity? If so, what caused the "causer" to come into existance?... and so on, and so on. 'Just askin'.

Anonymous said...

More like a conservation law, and I have my own theory which does answer all of those questions and has yet to be disproven by any PhD theorist, but up to this point I have only been giving the facts as they are supported by scientific papers and citable .edu websites, so I have to say that I take offense to the implication:

cloaked in what?...internet authority?

... simply because you can't judge for yourself the validity of the sources???

So now what... I answer your question and you choose to believe or not based on ignorance? I only ask because it's so common.

Anyway, Paul Davies has a new book out, (soon in the U.S.), called the "Goldilocks Enigma" and his concept is similar to mine:

"the creation of life to be somehow the 'goal' of the universe without suggesting that it is the work of a higher intelligence or God. That is to say he tends towards the belief that the principle of life 'builds purpose into the workings of the cosmos at a fundamental (rather than an incidental) level.

A literal anthropic constraint on the forces indicates that traits or characteristics are inherently evolved toward higher orders of the same basic structure.

That's just too obvious.

So there is no reason to assume an absolute cosmic singularity if the universe is perpetually configured to periodically leap/bang.

That just means that the near-perfectly flat structuring of the universe that was produced by the big bang was a damned good *effort toward* absolute symmetry.

The direction of evolution is streamlining...

This is an unrealizable *goal*, since traits or characteristics/**imperfections** are inherent, and are only improved-on by evolutionary leaps, not resolved.

Traits are inherent...

Logical enough... and with all the whacky cosmological models that are actually called science, it makes you wonder why nobody ever proposed a simple evolutionary model before now, no?

Anonymous said...

' Sorry for any offense, Island....I just meant that there will always be "links" available somewhere on the internet where theories oppose each other. Like, even some scientists believe "Jesus is God, and God exists", etc....yet there are obviously other scientists who would disagee. And I don't want to imply again---so am I right when I say that you're now saying that anyone who reads the information you provide and doesn't agree with it is pleading "ignorance"?

Also, this is an ex-christian site, so in the prior post I was just wondering if you're a propontent of Deism, or if you are positing the Christian biblegod as responsible for the singularity. I didn't think that was an unreasonable question, and honestly, your post still a bit ambiguous in that area....that, and "who" or "what" created God.

Anonymous said...

That's not exactly true boomslang, but thanks for the clarification:

The anthropic physics is real and was something that scientists put forth becasue it is the closest thing to a stability mechanism that anybody's ever been able to come up with.

Brandon Carter orignally put it forth formally for the benefit of John Wheeler who is quite the atheist physicist, but the anthropic statement that falls from the observed physics that I gave earlier makes it's own case.

I am an atheist. Does that make you feel better?... because I've found that this seems to matter more than the facts even to scientists!... for god's sake... ;)

Anonymous said...

"I am an atheist. Does that make you feel better?..."

Well, we both agree that Christianity is false, so that's clear now....but "feel better"? Hmmmm, naah, it's not about "feelings" or "strength in numbers", right? If it was about "feelings", shit, I'd probably "feel better" believing that I will float around in the clouds with my deceased loved ones when my physical life ends, while singing praise to "Mr. 1st Cause"......as opposed to just ceasing to exist after my 60, 70, 80 years are up, or whatever the case may be. But of course, just because of that hypothesis, or because an "Anthropic theory" suggests I'm intentionally here, as opposed to unintentionally here---and those things might make me "feel better"---doesn't mean either is absolute "Truth", right? ; )

Anonymous said...

Good point. Assuming that this theory of "natural higher purpose in nature" is ultimately vindicated by science, then there is a teleological ramification which speaks to philisophical concepts like, "morality", as something that is "more-absolute" than not.

I don't think that recognition of this would make anyone that is strictly on either side of debate happy though, especially if they are also strongly motivated ideologically.

That's the problem, the physics for the anthropic balances are best represented as the near-perfect average of extreme opposing runaway tendencies.

Which explains why we survive in spite of ourselves.

Anonymous said...

"Assuming that this theory of 'natural higher purpose in nature' is ultimately vindicated by science, then there is a teleological ramification which speaks to philisophical concepts like, 'morality', as something that is 'more-absolute' than not."

Well, if you see it that way---however, still not being absolutely "absolute", at least by definition or in concept.

Do you recall the Davies' hypothetical dialogue between "believer" and "skeptic" starting on page 191? "It's all a question of faith" was where he left it. So, are you saying in his new book that Davies has changed his mind on this? Good book, BTW...that, and the 5th Miracle.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you see it that way---however, still not being absolutely "absolute", at least by definition or in concept.

The insatiable effort of the universe toward absoute equilibrium makes the statement thta "balance is good" even though you can't get there from here.

All other "values" are manifestations of the natural conflicts that arise in the constant effort, which is why we have an equally insatiable tendency to **seek**... financial, spiritual, sexual, etc... satisfaction.

Here is a link one of the best book reviews that I've ever read:

Davies, Dawkins, and Frayn

Anonymous said...

"The insatiable effort of the universe toward absoute equilibrium makes the statement thta "balance is good" even though you can't get there from here."

Understood, yet, can it ever become "balanced" with "Divine Chaos" at work?....and if so, then wouldn't the universe become static?... which I've always understood the only absolute to be "change".

And I'll check out the review, but I was asking specifically about Davies' hypothetical/analogy between skeptic and believer, concerning the existance of an intelligent creator("God").

Anonymous said...

Understood, yet, can it ever become "balanced" with "Divine Chaos" at work?....and if so, then wouldn't the universe become static?... which I've always understood the only absolute to be "change".

And I'll check out the review, but I was asking specifically about Davies' hypothetical/analogy between skeptic and believer, concerning the existance of an intelligent creator("God").

I don't know what "Divine Chaos" is, but not in this cosmological model, no.

The understanding is that the asymmetry in the energy that results in a predominantly expansive universe proves that nothing is perfect, so for this reason a perfectly balanced configuration is impossible no matter how many big bangs try to resolve it.

My personal opinion is that Paul Davies is probably an atheist, but he has an obligation to the Templeton Foundation where he gets funding, and they have an agenda, so he has to walk on eggshells.

Most scientists resent the fact that he takes money from them, but then again... they all believe that uncertainty is a causal mechanism, so he hasn't got much choice except to make deal with the devil, so to speak.

Besides the "god" issue, there is a false perception among scientists that human hubris and geocentric arrogance have something to do with this, so they don't typically even study the physics, other than to look into the existing generic expositions.

Certainly none of them believe that there is purpose in nature, and this is the problem that prevents science from answering the why questions, not to mention the current meltdown of theoretical physics.

Anonymous said...

What I object to is the idea that any star system capable of sustaining life must conform precisely to what we find here.

I think what is critical is the fact that all of the anthropic coincidences are fixed to balance between diametrically opposing runaway tendencies, so whatever combination of these occurrences derives an simlarly balanced ecosystem, would suffice.

But the time/location facet of "goldilocks constraint" makes pin-point predictions about where SETI should point the radio telescopes.

Canadian makes the first wireless radio transmission
It was a festive first broadcast. The date was Christmas Eve 1906 and Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian inventor born in Quebec, sang hymns in an early wireless radio transmission. He broadcast from Massachusetts to Scotland and sang O Holy Night, Handel's Largo and Adore and Be Still. But Fessenden said because he had to muster up his singing voice, he opted for a re-broadcast on New Year's Eve. When it came to doing it a second time, he didn't do the singing.

How freaking ironic... ?

Anonymous said...

"Intelligent design" is just another way to say there is a "God". I guess they replaced the old word God with a newer, hipper version. But it amounts to the same. Listen, i can not say wether there is some kind of Intelligence behind it all or not. I honestly cant. And i don't have a problem with people that are spiritual. I guess it helps them in their Lives.
Personnally for me, the universe doesn't seem to need a creator, or God or designer but seems to govern itself.
I guess the bigger part of me knows there isn't really a God....my Brain accepts the obvious...but my heart once in a while hopes for something greater.
What can i say?
It's probobly just my Ego that wants to have a meaning for it all...damn, sometimes it's hard being so logical!

Anonymous said...

even if you accept evolution it dont rule out god darwin put it forth as a theary of creation but it was huxley ( who would have agreed with lenin that the very idea of god is an abomination) who made it a plank ( & a rotten one) of unbeleif .False intelligence quails in the face of the fact that the nonpariel brain of isaac newton believed the bible & rote volumes about it .

Pageviews this week: