Who’s got next?

First it was Hitchens, now James Randi comes out of the closet:

Well, here goes. I really resent the term, but I use it because it’s recognized and accepted.

I’m gay.

Let me first make it clear that I don’t think there’s any reason to mock the guy for his idiosyncrasy. From what I have observed from the outside over the years, it is apparent that the lifestyle is not an easy one. But his predilection is nevertheless relevant, as it was in the case of Hitchens, simply because it calls into question the primary source of his tireless opposition to religion. It doesn’t change the strength or weakness of his so-called rationalist arguments in the least – those have to stand or fall on their own merits – but since Man is above all a rationalizing creature it does indicate the direction in which Randi’s confirmation biases have been pointing for quite some time now.

Anyhow, I applaud the man’s courage for addressing the matter in a forthright manner since it was obviously difficult for him. And I don’t think it would be fair for anyone to claim it as “proof of the perfidy of the rationalist mode of life” since to the extent there may be a causal relationship, it would tend to run the other way.

All that being said, I must admit that I will, without a doubt, laugh myself silly if Dawkins is the next atheist to come out with a Very Special Announcement.

Of mice and gods

I found this exchange in the comments to be more than a little amusing, as Darth clearly picked up on the same scientific ignorance of the design process in reading about the Pagel paper that I did in reading Richard Dawkins’s latest book.

Darth Toolpodicus: “‘Rather than designing each species from scratch, as an engineer might, evolution is conservative, using the same designs over and over.’

Are you freaking kidding me?!? SERIOUSLY?!? Pagel plainly doesn’t know the first thing about design engineering… Wow is that gaspingly ignorant. Of course, what would I know…having only spent my entire career in R&D design engineering.”

Schadenfreude: “You’re right. Let me rephrase it for him: “…as an engineer who, unlike human engineers, was not limited in time, resources, or ingenuity, and who did not for some hidden reason want to make every organism appear related just as one would expect if evolution had occurred.”

The reason that this is so funny to a game and technology designer like me is that whenever evolutionists attack the idea of creation from a design angle, they almost invariably do two things. First, they make what is best described as the Scheisskopfian Plea, after the character from the Joseph Heller novel.

“‘I don’t believe,’ she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. ‘But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.’”

The Creator God in which the evolutionist doesn’t believe is a good designer, a careful designer, an efficient designer. He’s not the lazy and careless designer that the apparent design imperfections make him out to be.

The second thing that they do is reveal a near-complete ignorance of the design process. Every designer, hardware and software, reuses as much material as he can. I’m finishing up a design document right now, and it is literally nothing more than the exact same document I used for a previous design, but with most of the graphics and some of the text changed. I’ve also been reviewing a number of development projects over the last two weeks and the best of them was described to me like this: “It’s “famous game designer’s” latest, it’s just “very successful game” set in a [different] setting.” And, after reviewing the material, that’s precisely what it is. As far as I can tell, not even the hotkeys have changed.

The design process is messy, haphazard, and often involves a certain amount of retrofitting. If you pop the top on the average high-end mouse, you’ll not infrequently find the circuit board inside crossed with a wire or three. That retro-fitted inefficiency is not an indication that the mouse evolved through natural selection, it just means that the design engineer decided to fix a problem without starting from scratch. And most designs are, to be blunt, a little crazy and a lot stupid. Before embarking upon my most recent technology design project, I looked through patent after patent and was astounded by how many people and corporations had designed multi-button mice over the last thirty years… and how every single one of them had placed those additional buttons right under the palm of the user’s hand, which is the second most-inaccessible location they could possibly have chosen.

Once you take into account that the Biblical God is said to have regretted that He made Man (Genesis 6:6) and that He made Saul king over Israel (1 Samuel 15:11), it seems more than a bit… clueless… to base an argument upon the idea that a god who informs us in his own scriptures that he makes mistakes cannot design anything in a manner that we might consider to be mistaken. And this does not even take into account the obvious possibility that planned imperfection was part of the design. For example, I find myself wondering what evolutionists who favor the Scheisskopfian argument conclude from the obvious design failure involved in the susceptibility of digital Call of Duty characters to the flying projectiles that infest their environment.

After all, imperfection and death couldn’t possibly be part of a truly efficient design….