Home > Skepticism, Tel-Aviv, thoughts > Elia Leibowitz’s lecture on the fallacies of intelligent design @ Icon

Elia Leibowitz’s lecture on the fallacies of intelligent design @ Icon

Yesterday, my friend Ben and I, have checked what’s going on in Icon, a science fiction and fantasy convention held here at the Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque. There was the usual cosplay activity, books and role playing games stands and all sorts of geeks wandering about. Great atmosphere. I should have taken my camera with me…

We then attended a lecture, which was part of the convention, called “Intelligence Design: the oldest science fiction” hosted by Professor of astronomy¬†Elia Leibowitz from Tel Aviv University and also a member of the Sackler Institute of Astronomy.

Prof. Leibowitz started with an overview of how we gather information we consider to be true and how, based on that information alone, we sometimes make false assumptions about our surroundings. Based on this alone, we’re likely to interpret the world wrong. In order to understand our world as accurately as possible, we must base our conclusions on common sense and experimentations as well as the knowledge we gather.

It seems obvious, of course, but it isn’t. And that’s where intelligent design comes in. Basically, ID proponents say our universe is too complex and unique to be the result of mere random events. Evolution and science can’t explain the uniqueness of the creation of the universe, so there must be a creator behind it. It’s a false dichotomy: if not evolution, then has to be a god. Leibowitz gave the example of the watch and the shell: If the watch was made by an intelligent creator, so must have been the shell, because both of them are complex designs.

The main problem with the IDers’ reasoning is that they ignore the fact that any importance we imply on the world strictly comes from our own interpretation. It’s very easy to be impressed by the sheer beauty of a view from the cliffs and the complexity of a bacterial flagellum. Well, these are quite amazing. Nature IS amazing. But it’s not unique. Not beyond what we make of it. There is no universal uniqueness in our world. And if there is non, randomness is a plausible explanation. The universe developed the way it was, but it could have easily developed in any other way If there is no uniqueness, there is no need for an intelligent creator.

I’m not implying there is no possibility for the existence of an intelligent designer of some sort (although I don’t believe that possibility), I don’t think the arguments presented by ID proponents are good enough to support this claim. According to modern knowledge and all the evidence we have, this simply just doesn’t add up.

This has been a great evening. I got to meet a few very interesting people along the way, including a very talented illustrator pursuing a career in animation! I hope next Icon I’ll be able to participate in more events and have a lot more to write about!

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