Monday, August 29, 2005

WHERE’S THE BEEF!?!” [Guest Blog]

Upon awakening, I raced to the 7-11 for the NY Times. Pleased that the competition had not depleted the inventory, I scooped up my times, paid and headed home with paper and chocolate milk in hand. I couldn’t wait. I gulped down the chocolate milk within ten steps of 7-11. I didn’t wonder what evolutionary tid bit brought me to the Times and chocolate milk, until I opened the week in review and found an opinion by that ‘Tuft’ thinking philosopher, Daniel Dennett. He was playing his favorite game, skeet shooting the imaginary pigeons of intelligent design. He yelled pull and fired away at the Discovery Institute’s totalizing anti-claims against evolution.

While reading, I thought of the early stages of the evolving big hamburger. It was in the eighties, most of you were still eating happy meals with little burgers that went unfinished, while the big kids had to eat a number of burgers to fill up. Then a miracle happened. An old lady pulled off the bun, saw a little burger and exclaimed, “Where’s the beef!?!” Wendy’s had unpredictably, maybe mistakenly, evolved out of bad burger land with a great tasting, big burger. Everything began to evolve in burger land. Not true. McDonald’s original French fry was and is still the best. Why, the beef by product that dresses it, which brings me back to Daniel Dennett and the evolution of beef.

Was beef intelligently designed or did evolve it in what we eat today? (I’m jealous of Dennett, not for his over the top obsession with evolution, but with his ability to argue his case. I hope I evolve into such an arguer.) Yes, there are holes in the theory of evolution and Dennett’s argument, just as there is with ground beef. Nevertheless, Dennett has evidence to support his claims. The intelligent designers’, like misguided ordinary language philosophers (Wittgenstein is not an ordinary language philosopher) only have their critiques of others’ claims. It’s sad. Intelligent design does not have one piece of evidence to support its beliefs, where as Dennett has evidence to support his beliefs. Yes, evolution has some gaps to fill to continue to grow Darwin’s insights. However, the Discovery Institute (DI) has offered little to explain itself, just a critique of Darwin. Unlike the old lady, the DI argues evolution is a small burger that is enlarged by intelligent design. The burger, or life, is too complex to be explained by the randomness of evolution. In support they take Einstein out of context by proclaiming: not even Einstein believed that God played dice with the universe. Boy, that’s convincing.

Intelligent design is interesting and almost convincing, for as Dennett argues, it’s intuitive to believe every product has a maker or every effect has a cause. But intuition is not science, although it’s in(E)volved in the process. Saying the burger is too big to capture our love for it, does not mean the burger did not evolve through trial and error. Unlike evolution, though, there is a burger maker who is evolving.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we should teach Intelligent Design where it is already taught, Sunday school. Perhaps, it might be taught in a philosophy class, but only as an example of a bad argument or non-argument trying to argue its case, like one who continually says - “you’re being illogical!” – without showing you how. Even ethics often have a “how to do it” style.

Remember, in the Spirit of Kant, God is sanctified not in or out of evolution, but with the infinite task given to us by morality, “Be Holy” or, as the Prophets state: Make the world a better place. Nevertheless, that’s not science. (Like evolution, there is a hole in Kant’s ethical reasoning between is and ought, the gap has not been closed nor should it be closed. If it closes, it means accepting the world as it is instead of pursuing our ideals for a better world. Maybe the gap will close in messianic times, which is a religious hope or belief, not science. In the influential styles of those at DI, I assert a non-argument. Intelligent design is Western monotheism disguised as science. Until it evolves into something beyond a totalizing anti-claim, I ask in the spirit of the little old lady, “where’s the beef!?!”

Until I hear an answer, you’ll find me playing backgammon.

Guest Blogger: Yehudster

Technorati Tags: