Friday, September 03, 2004

Intelligent Design Quotes

Over at The Panda's Thumb, they like to argue that no real scientist would ever succumb to the absurd notion that there is evidence for design. Be careful here: they go well beyond arguing that no real scientists believe in ID and make much stronger statements that evidence for design or fine tuning is non-existent. To hold such a view, they are satisfied to claim, in effect, the universe is here, and galaxies and stars and planets obviously formed, so why worry about it?

Let’s see what some scientists (all well-known, most non-believers) have to say about the appearance of design in cosmology:

Arno Penzias, who shared the Nobel Prize for the “discovery of the century”, the 2.7K cosmic background radiation:
Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say “supernatural”) plan.

Chinese astrophysicist Fang Li Zhi, and coauthor Li Shu Xian:
A question that has always been considered a topic of metaphysics or theology has now become an area of active research in physics.

George Ellis, colleague of Stephen Hawking and mathematician Roger Penrose:
Amazing fine-tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word “miraculous” without taking a stand as to the ontological status of that word.

Stephen Hawking:
It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as an act of a God who intended to create beings like us.

Cosmologist Bernard Carr:
One would have to conclude that either the features of the universe invoked in support of the Anthropic Principle are only coincidence or that the universe was indeed tailor made for life. I will leave it to the theologians to ascertain the identity of the tailor.

Astronomer George Greenstein:
As we survey all the evidence, the thought instantly arises that some supernatural agency—or rather Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?

Astronomer Fred Hoyle, staunch anti-theist:
A superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as the chemistry and biology.

Tony Rothman, theoretical physicist:
The medieval theologian who gazed at the night sky through the eyes of Aristotle and saw angels moving the spheres in harmony has become the modern cosmologist who gazes at the same sky through the eyes of Einstein and sees the hand of God not in angels but in the constants of nature… When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it.

Cosmologist Edward Harrison:
Here is the cosmological proof of the existence of God. The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design. Take your choice: blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one. Many scientists, when they admit their views, incline to the theological or design argument.

My personal favorite:

Heinemann prize winner Robert Griffiths:
If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.

Robert Jastrow:
For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been waiting there for centuries.

Paul Davies:
[There] is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all…It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe…The impression of design is overwhelming.

Lawrence Krauss (on the dark energy problem):
This is the worst fine tuning problem in physics.

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