Saturday, December 22, 2012

Protecting the Children

President Obama last week assured us that he would do something to protect our children from future tragedies like the Sandy Hook massacre. Many politicians and pundits are nodding in agreement that we must do something to prevent our children from being victimized by the psychopaths that lurk in every neighborhood.

Yet as Michael Ramirez pointedly observes, there's another form of deadly insanity being inflicted upon our children, and the culprits are some of the same people, the president included, who are pontificating on the need to protect them.

Soon interest payments on the debt will consume almost our entire annual GDP. What are the president and his minions in congress doing about it? Talking about taxing the rich - a solution which will garner about enough revenue to run the government for a couple of days - and raising the debt ceiling so that we can borrow and spend even more money and go even further into debt.

The people in charge are running the country into the ground, consigning our children to a future of permanent hardship and joblessness, and all the while blathering about the need to "protect" them. We decided not to protect them in one way that really matters when we decided last November 6th to reelect this crowd.

Atheistic Versions of Intelligent Design

People sometimes ask who, or what, if not God, any candidate for an intelligent designer of the universe could be. The purpose of the question is to show that intelligent design (ID) is an inherently religious hypothesis because any such candidate would have to be God.

It's quite a bad argument but strong enough to convince such experts in philosophy as Judge John Jones, author of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision a few years back.

There are several possible non-theistic candidates for the role of "universe designer," but even if there weren't, even if the God of Judeo-Christian tradition were the only possible candidate, that would not make ID a religious hypothesis. It would be a hypothesis with religious implications, certainly, but then it's hard to think of any hypothesis, scientific or metaphysical, theistic or naturalistic, that doesn't have religious implications.

Anyway, a physicist at the University of Washington proposes that the universe is intelligently designed and has suggested a way to test this idea. It follows that, if ID can be tested, it belongs in the realm of scientific inquiry. To be sure, the scientist, a physicist named Martin Savage, does not think that the designer is God, a fact which also shows that ID is not a religious theory.

The Seattle Times explains:
It is entirely plausible, says University of Washington physics professor Martin Savage, that our universe and everything in it is one huge computer simulation being run by our descendants.

You, me, this newspaper, the room you're sitting in — everything we think of as reality is actually being generated by vast, powerful supercomputers of the future. If that sounds mind-blowing, Savage and his colleagues think they've come up with a way to test whether it's true.

Their paper, "Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation," has kindled a lively international discussion about the simulation argument, which was first put forth in 2003 by University of Oxford philosophy professor Nick Bostrom.

Bostrom, the Oxford professor, first proposed the idea that we live in a computer simulation in 2003. In a 2006 article, he said there was probably no way to know for certain if it is true.
Bostrom's idea is that at some point in the future, our descendents, or some other beings, would evolve such high levels of intelligence and technology that they would be able to construct supercomputers capable of generating simulated universes much like current computers can be programmed to generate simulated games.

He goes on to suggest that the world we find ourselves in is, in fact, a simulation produced by these future intelligent agents. One motivation for such a strange notion is that the physical properties of the universe have astonishingly precise values and the whole universe seems intentionally designed for life. This fine-tuning of the universe points insistently to intelligent engineering, but so far from being God, the engineer, according to these thinkers, is probably your great grandson, so metaphysical naturalists and other theophobes need not be alarmed.

The problem is, though, that efforts like Savage's and Bostrom's are giving up the game. It's pretty hard to maintain the pretense that ID is religious when so many atheists are advocating it.

These speculations also illustrate the lengths to which people will go to avoid the conclusion that God exists. They remind me of the 1954 quote from Nobel Prize winning biologist George Wald in Scientific American:
There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation, that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with the only possible conclusion that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible; spontaneous generation arising to evolution.
An amazing admission. It confirms what G.K. Chesterton once said: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything."