Notes by John L Perkins on Atheist Society lecture given on 13 September
A transcript from Ian Robinson will be uploaded when received. Other comments welcome.
Mr Robinson opened his talk by reciting a poem by Archie Cockroach. It illustrated an important point he wished to make - that perceptions are preconditioned by what we already believe. Believers will perceive design by a creator, non-believers will perceive the opposite.
Intelligent design is a case of "begging the question", i.e. assuming as given that which is required to be proved. In this case, patterns are perceived, and explanations are required. ID is just a restatement of the centuries old teleological argument, but it is now one that denies science.
Three issues were raised.
1. "Design" means to create something to meet a need, for a purpose. Why did the god have this need? If the purpose was to enable humans to work through a cosmological journey, then most of the known universe is redundant to this purpose. So why all this inefficiency and redundancy?
2. Some aspects of "design" are inexplicable, such as vestigial organs that are design inefficiencies and redundancies. Many species have "design" abnormalities. Such things can only be explained by evolution, and evolution is too destructive to be part of "design".
3. Even if things were designed, it need not have been by the God. it could have been a "committee of gods" or by a malevolent Devil instead. The god hypothesis is just a residual, the "god of the gaps".
Mr Robinson then turned to the probability and complexity argument. This is that all the known physical laws are consistent with what we observe as reality, including human life. If the laws were different, life may not exist, so therefore it is too improbable to be an accident. He countered this argument by saying that improbable things do happen. To win a lottery is highly improbable, but some do win. He quoted Hawkings recent view that 90 % of planets in the universe could support life.
In conclusion, ID is not science, it does no experimentation, or research
and provides no explanation.