How Ol Charlie attacked Intelligent Design with Occam's Razor
How old Charlie attacked Intelligent
Design with Occam's razor
Certain features of the
universe and of living
things are best explained by
an intelligent cause, not an
undirected process such as
Thinly veiled dancing girls
When competing hypotheses are
equal in other respects, the
principle recommends selection of
the hypothesis that introduces the
fewest assumptions and postulates
the fewest entities while still
sufficiently answering the
Old Charlie stole the handle, and
the train it won't stop going, no
way to slow down...
Evolution by natural selection
The process by which traits become more or less
common in a population due to consistent effects
upon the survival or reproduction of their bearers
“We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay
whole systems of universe, to be governed by laws, but
the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by
special act. “
- Old Charlie
Er, not so easy...
“It is grindingly, creakingly, crashingly obvious that, if
Darwinism were really a theory of chance, it couldn't
- Richard Dawkins
The mechanism of natural selection
Heritable variation exists within populations of
Organisms produce more offspring than can
These offspring vary in their ability to survive
If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you
have on your hands is a non-working cat. Life is a level of
complexity that almost lies outside our vision; it is so far beyond
anything we have any means of understanding that we just think of
it as a different class of object, a different class of matter; 'life',
something that had a mysterious essence about it, was God given,
and that's the only explanation we had. The bombshell comes in
1859 when Darwin publishes 'On the Origin of Species'. It takes a
long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to
understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and
thoroughly demeaning to us, but it's yet another shock to our
system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the
Universe and we're not made by anything, but we started out as
some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. It
just doesn't read well.
Ahh, the comfort...
McDonald: “Now a lot of people find great comfort from
religion. Not everybody is as you are – well-favored,
handsome, wealthy, with a good job, happy family life. I
mean, your life is good – not everybody's life is good, and
religion brings them comfort.”
Dawkins: “There are all sorts of things that would be
comforting. I expect an injection of morphine would be
comforting – it might be more comforting, for all I know.
But to say that something is comforting is not to say that
But hey, the world is ...
“You can’t just say there is a God because well, the world
is beautiful. You have to account for bone cancer in
children. You have to account for the fact that almost all
animals in the wild live under stress with not enough to
eat and will die violent and bloody deaths. There is not
any way that you can just choose the nice bits and say
that means there is a God and ignore the true fact of
what nature is.”
- Stephen Fry
And about beauty...
Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful
without having to believe that there are fairies at
the bottom of it too?
And the evidence...
Universal biochemical organisation and molecular
The proteomic evidence also supports the universal
ancestry of life
The meaning of life – Monty Python
Lady Presenter: Well, that's the end of the film. Now, here's
the meaning of life.
[She is handed a gold-wrapped booklet.]
Lady Presenter: Thank you, Brigitte.
[She clears her throat, then unwraps and examines the gilt
Lady Presenter: Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and
be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every
now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together
in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
If you assume there’s no afterlife, you’ll likely
have a fuller, more interesting life.