Last year I posted about Clay Naff, science writer, PuffHo blogger, and accommodationist who seemed to want to find Jesus in evolution. Now he makes a similar plea for creationism at Scientific American blogs, “A secular case for intentional creation.”
He first equates creationists and atheists in how they regard “the argument about the fundamental nature of existence”:
There are, however, two sets of people who want to shut the argument down. One is the drearily familiar set of religious fundamentalists. The other is the shiny new set of atheists who claim that science demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that our existence is accidental, purposeless, and doomed. My intent is to show that both are wrong. . .
The trouble with the “New Atheist” position, as defined above, is this: it commits the fallacy of the excluded middle.
And what is that “excluded middle”? God, of course, even though Naff professes himself a secular humanist who is agnostic about many things”:
Science indeed excludes many possibilities. The conservation laws rule out ghosts who deploy photons to be visible, electromagnetic force to hurl objects, and kinetic wave energy to moan. Miracles are bunk. Like LaPlace, we’ve no need for a Creator to explain how the world works. But we might in searching for our ultimate origins.
The claim I aim to rebut is that science forces us to conclude that life is accidental, purposeless, and doomed.
And the data that forces Naff to entertain the possibility of a creator? Simply that science can’t disprove the idea of a deistic creator-god, who made the universe and then went to lunch:
Until some evidence arrives, the pursuit of truth through science obliges us to entertain multiple hypotheses. When it comes to cosmic origins, that must surely include consideration of the idea that our Universe was deliberately created with a purpose in mind. Yet little authentically secular effort has gone into it.
I’m baffled at what kind of “authentically secular effort” could find evidence for a purpose in the universe. Naff goes on:
Indeed, any talk of teleology seems to infuriate Dawkins: “What is the purpose of a mountain? What is the purpose of a tsunami? What is the purpose of bubonic plague? Surely you can see that these are just silly questions? Same with the universe.”
They are indeed silly — if you assume that a supremely powerful and virtuous deity created the Earth. But that hardly exhausts the possibilities.
To name just one, it may be that the fundamental property of the Universe is information, and that life, the Universe and everything amount to a program running for an obscure purpose. That conceit is captured with mordant humor here.
Click the link; it shows a universe controlled by aliens for whom bad stuff is part of the plan.
So where does the goddy stuff come in? Naff speculates that, when our Universe comes to its inevitable end, the “Darwinian imperative” (i.e. to keep life going, which he sees as a human principle but is really only the result of differential gene replication) will force us to create another universe. And if we can do that, then so others could have as well! Ergo Jesus:
Swell, you may think, but what has this to do with secular creation? Simple: the Principle of Mediocrity. It tells us that when we have only one data point, we should assume that it lies near the middle of the distribution curve. That being so, if we take the above as granted we would be foolhardy to assume that we will be the first proud parents of a Baby Universe. The ability to procreate a Universe would suggest that ours was so created, and for a similar reason: to keep life alive.
And of course there’s a bit of amateur theology:
The extravagance and imperfections of the Universe are just what you might expect of imperfect creators doing the best they can with the materials on hand. SETI’s failure to date suggests they were none too extravagant! Indeed, nothing of which I am aware counts as evidence against this hypothesis.
To be fair, Naff says that his hypothesis is testable: we have to be able to create a new universe. (He adds that nothing has yet shown that this is impossible for us, but neglects the possibility that while it may be impossible for us, maybe it’s possible for a race of super-aliens, and those might as well be God.)
This is the craziest idea I’ve ever seen adumbrated in a respected scientific magazine. The “excluded middle” tells us that it’s not crazy to assume that we could create a new universe, and that others might have as well, and those others might be creators of our own universe, aka God?
As P. Z. Myers said about stuff like this, assuming that a “middle position” is reasonable doesn’t mean you’re intellectually more honest: sometimes is just means you’re halfway to crazy town. And that’s exactly where Naff is.
Why on earth is this on the Scientific American site? Shouldn’t it be on BioLogos? Oh, I forgot—they explicitly posit God and Jesus rather than aliens.