After a long break from ThinkAtheist I am back and would really appreciate some help! So thank you to anyone that responds :)
I got the following comment on my (scientifically basic) post about evolution on my blog (http://messiahmyth.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/guide-to-evolution-for-...) and I simply don't know exactly how to tackle it. The simple fact of the matter is that I'm very much in my infancy of knowledge when it comes to logic and critical thinking, so before I go and make a mess of a rebuttal, I thought I'd come to you guys and ask your opinions!
"Great article, I have enjoyed your blog. However I am not sure if you are employing the dysteleological argument here as an objection to the existence of a Creator, or an objectio
There are three components to a valid formal argument– an argument can be formally valid in the sense of having the right structure and still be false. Validity is a word philosophers use to describe an argument with a correct structure, not a word they use to describe an argument as true. Two of these components are stated and one is unstated but often implicit.
Assumptions are the background knowledge and experience you possess which inform your view of the world. Your worldview. These are often implicit, that is, they are unstated, but can be inferred in many instances. If we think of an argument like a house where your assumptions are the foundation, your Premises are the subframe. Your premises hold up the roof and rest on the foundation. And of course there's the Conclusion. The conclusion is what must follow from your premises as long as they're true. The roof of the house which can only stay in place if the premises can support it. But that's the key.
The way to attack an argument is to either take issue with an assumption upon which it is based, take issue with one or more of the supporting premises upon which the conclusion is based, or take issue by pointing out that the conclusion does not follow from the premises even if the premises are true.
So, with that background, your commenter is offering that your argument which says that nature has no design (that's what dysteleogical means) can be challenged on basis of one of your premises. He's saying that you haven't defended the premise of your argument that says that in order for design to be confirmed we must be able to ascertain what the designer had in mind when designing. It's upon this idea that the notion of the existence of a bad design refuting intelligent design rests. And even that there is such a thing as "bad design" in the first place. He's asking you to defend your premise that we can look to any feature of a biological organism and, without knowing the motivations of the designer when designing– that is, why the organism or some part thereof was designed– be able to say that the organism or some part of it was badly designed. The direct question is: How do you know that the organism isn't perfectly designed for a purpose the designer had in mind but to which we simply are not privy?
He's certainly entitled to attack your premises in this way and demand a defense from you. That's how formal arguments proceed. You should welcome the opportunity to see if your argument cannot stand or needs to be modified. Because if it cannot stand or needs to be modified then you've gotten closer to some truth about the nature of objective reality.
If I were to be the one responding I would level many of the same criticisms as can be made against a position theists often adopt in response to the Argument from Evil/Suffering called Skeptical Theism. You're surely familiar with the position even if you've never heard it formally named: "We can't know the mind of God. Who are we to judge Him in his ways? He has a plan for all of us, even if we are presently unable to guess at just what it is."
The response is that the adoption of this position undermines theistic morality, all the other arguments FOR God, and therefore theism itself entirely. For, what does it mean in the first place to say that a designer is good or loving unless we mean good or loving in the way we use the term? What is it to say that a designer is a good or intelligent designer in the first place unless we mean good and intelligent design in the same way we do? If we're unable to judge whether a design is good or bad because we can't know the mind of the designer then we're left in a position from which we can't even infer design. And so the dysteleological position still carries the day as the null hypothesis.
Hey Deluded Students,
This is why I don't like TOE ... because it draws this stuff like this in. Let me go read it and post again.
Hey Deluded Students,
Great article, I have enjoyed your blog. However I am not sure if you are employing the dysteleological argument here as an objection to the existence of a Creator, or an objection to the existence of creationism – the view that man was assembled in its’ current state in a short period of time by an intelligent designer. Either way, the dysteleological argument does not work.
Are you, Deluded Students, saying that the universe was created without an explicit purpose? In other words, do you believe that the causality chain of events leading to the Big Bang had a purpose or that it did not. That would address the Creator part. Let me know and I’ll answer for you.
The second part, about "creation", is the same thing applied to the creation of human beings. Do you believe that the causality chain of events leading to homo sapiens sapiens had a purpose?
Both applications invoke the notion of willful, or volitious causes. Most atheists, like Dawkins, would be considered dysteleological because they reject purpose in these kinds of causal chains of events.
If you can answer that for me I can come up with an answer for you.
If the conclusion of this argument is indeed that God does not exist or that creationism is not true, then since you are submitting the argument, you also bear the burden of proof in your premises. The defense of the premise that design is poor is not fully defended.
This is backward. The positive claim is that God exists, therefore, the burden falls on the actor positing that existence to show the existence of “God”.
The polar bear has thumbs that humans would consider suboptimal for our requirements. However the bear uses its’ thumbs to shed bark, and in this case, it would be our thumbs that are suboptimal, and the bears that are optimal! It is inappropriate to call a design suboptimal unless we know the intention of the designer.
This is why I HATE TOE. How do you even respond to this? What is his point? All he is doing is supporting the core ideas behind natural selection. I don’t get his point here.
In this absence of this knowledge, this premise is rendered unproven and the dysteleological argument is therefore invalid.
No, it isn’t; not by the “argument” presented.
Let me know where you stand and I'll write up something for you. I've got some good material on this.
The minute you see people tossing two cent words like that out like fish bait you know you are dealing with an intellectually insecure chump. Be forewarned.
I've commented and its awaiting your moderation.