Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Another Pointless Creationist Prize

Our friends over at William Dembski’s Home for Wayward Sycophants have posted yet another creationist monetary challenge, a whole thousand dollars. Here’s the challenge:

ID is often disparaged as “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” One assumes the point being made is that ID is a stalking horse for theistic creationists. Now, as has been explained on this site many times, while many ID proponents are theists, ID itself stands apart from theistic belief. For the umpteenth time, ID does not posit a supernatural designer. Nor does ID posit any suspension of the laws of nature. To drive this point home UD is going to put its money where its mouth is. UD hereby offers a $1,000 prize to anyone who is able to demonstrate that the design of a living thing by an intelligent agent necessarily requires a supernatural act (i.e., the suspension of the laws of nature).


Wow, a thousand dollars! Hell, Kent Hovind offers a quarter of a million dollars and he’s in prison. And this challenge is every bit as ridiculous as his. You can see the word games that are inevitably going to be played with the challenge here:

Some commenters have gotten bogged down on whether an immaterial mind counts as supernatural. The answer is “no.” If an immaterial mind counts as supernatural and all intelligent agents including humans have immaterial minds, then all volitional acts of all intelligent agents would be supernatural acts. That’s a silly way to construe the word “supernatural.” It is not how the word is used in ordinary English usage and it is not how the word is used for purposes of this contest. Resolving the hard problem of consciousness is not necessary for this contest. Therefore, we will simply avoid it, and contestants shall operate under the assumption I made in this post. Specifically, I wrote: “Therefore, I am going to make a bold assumption for the sake of argument. Let us assume for the sake of argument that intelligent agents do NOT have free will, i.e., that the tertium quid does not exist. Let us assume instead, for the sake of argument, that the cause of all activity of all intelligent agents can be reduced to physical causes.”

Let me just quote the man who owns Uncommon Descent from a 1998 address:

“The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design. So too, Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex biochemical systems readily yield design. The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world. Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.”

I guess Dembski will have to award the $1000 to himself. Or he’ll have to engage in some mental gymnastics to claim that something that transcends the physical laws of the universe is not “supernatural.”