Argument from ignorance? – Berlinski on the Question: How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence? – A first look at the question


Warning 64pxAttention:  This is not necessarily an article about Intelligent Design; this is an article about how we think, how we think about scientific propositions, how we think about our own and other people’s thinking and more particularly how the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance can be part of the dynamic.

All of what follows was wrapped around a conversation that was organized around a discussion of Intelligent Design hosted by the Watermark Community Church in Dallas on April 19, 2009 at a forum called The Creation Conversation.  Ok, the building, the host, and the audience were some brand of evangelical Christian, and their ulterior motives were whatever they were, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the rest of us to learn from what transpired there, that is if you can be open minded enough to set aside for the moment the place and intentions of that particular conference and learn something from what was said there.

Therefore, we will all be expected to proceed, for the sake of the discussion, as of the subject matter is worth of being treated as a legitimate hypothesis, to be falsified or passed forward to the next round of discussion because it attempts, in good faith, to answer a question that other hypotheses have failed so far to answer:  How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence?

Fair enough?

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David Berlinski – On the crisis of historiography-Uncommon Knowledge and what is admissible to consider


The City of God,  manuscript at the NY Public Library

The something lost?  The City of God                                     [manuscript at the NY Public Library]

Here is some more of David Berlinski being interviewed by Peter Robinson on the contrast of St Augustine’s reinterpretation of history, watching the fall of Roman civilization from across the Mediterranean versus the poverty of our own intellectual position in the early 21st watching the fall of our own civilization on the internet:

[Berlinski] The point is, we do live in a society where the house of intellect is coordinated with only a finite number of microphones, and those microphones are connected with the academic world and with a certain part of the journalistic world.  I think that is true in the United States, it’s true in Canada, England, France, throughout Europe.  There is a doctrine, amounting to a dogma.  And, according to the doctrine, the dogma, this way of thinking [Augustine’s City of God] no matter what [the last Pope] Benedict says, or what the rabbis in Israel say is not part of the interpretable cannon.  It cannot be introduced.  Should it be introduced?  would it make more sense?  have we lost something of tremendous value in our culture?  Don’t forget, we are part of a Judaeo-Christian culture.  My answer is yes, of course, of course.  We have lost something of value; we cannot think in those terms any more.

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Macaulay’s Idea of Progress – the bifurcation of material and social progress – Some thoughts on David Berlinski


Thomas Babington Macaulay, National Portrait Gallery, London [John Partridge d.1872]

Thomas Babington Macaulay,  National Portrait Gallery, London            [John Partridge d.1872]

David Berlinski begins his, still unacountably unfinished, book The Best of Times with this quote from 19th century British philosopher and Whig politician Thomas Babington Macaulay:

“We rely on the natural tendency of the human intellect to truth, and of the natural tendency of society to improvement.”

The 20th and 21st centuries speak otherwise according to Berlinski.

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