21 November 2008


I am loving the hell out of that Frightened Rabbit’s song, especially the chord progression.

My studies are going quite well. I'm getting to what I really want to know, which is how do non-centrally controlled systems make sense of themselves. My primary and secondary education — basically the teaching of the fundamentalist Christian movement — said that order cannot be attained without central control. I remember two pictures in a textbook describing thermodynamics, showing that things tend towards disorder: a completed cabin in the woods and one that had been left and was deteriorating. Simple, right? You don’t take care of it, it falls apart. The question, it turns out, really hinges on what you call ‘order’. I am beginning to think that second picture might be more ordered — a phase in a natural cycle which leads to something else.

This is the same nonsense you will get from intelligent design people about a watch you find in the woods. ‘Do you think that watch is naturally occurring? Of course not.’ What you are tricked into thinking is that something made by humans equals ordered complexity and something naturally occurring like a rock or tree is not. Moreover, that ordered complexity equals conscious design. You would not, however, be asked to give a supernatural explanation for the ordered complexity of a certain tree living in a certain spot in a certain forest, which is ordered complexity. Or the Grand Canyon. Or any other ordered, natural system. The forest takes care of itself — we don’t need an explanation for it because we can see the natural processes at work that bring it to this point.

The intelligent design person is left arguing that even though the natural processes is explicit and describes the placement of a tree in that part of the forest, there is some meta-level tinkering going on that we can’t see, but is the explanation for the explanation. I wonder why, under this thinking, there is no need to explain God. What’s God’s explanation? If you say, ‘God doesn’t need and explanation, God is God,’ then you best not attack the naturalist for saying, ‘Nature doesn’t need another explanation.’ You're just stopping at different points.

These are all thoughts at the outset — initial, poorly-worded ones. Better ones coming soon. I promise.