Here are two quotes from the Roman orator- philosopher- lawyer- statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero's (106-43 BC) "The Nature of the Gods" (De Natura Deorum).
[Graphic: Cicero and his "On Friendship and Old Age," Glyn Hughes]
They sound like they could have been written by a modern ID theorist (indeed Bill Dembski refers to both of them in his books).
They are from an oration that Cicero puts in the mouth of an imaginary Stoic philosopher, Quintus Lucius Balbus in a three-cornered dialogue between Gaius Valleius, an imaginary Epicurean, and Cicero himself.
The first quote foreshadows (and may have influenced) Paley's a-watch-implies-a-watchmaker design argument from contrivance. That is, when anyone sees the arrangement of parts for a purpose (e.g. when one sees "a sundial or a water-clock ... that it tells the time") then one intuitively infers it was put together "by design and not by chance." And this applies even to a "one of those barbarians " who had never seen that contrivance before, e.g. on seeing "a globe which in its revolution shows the movements of the sun and stars and planets" a barbarian would not "fail to see that it was the product of a conscious intelligence." Therefore, how can one "imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence" given that "it embraces everything, including these artefacts themselves and their artificers?" (my emphasis):
"When you look at a picture or a statue, you recognize that it is a work of art. When you follow from afar the course of a ship, upon the sea, you do not question that its movement is guided by a skilled intelligence. When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells the time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence, when it embraces everything, including these artefacts themselves and their artificers? Our friend Posidonius as you know has recently made a globe which in its revolution shows the movements of the sun and stars and planets, by day and night, just as they appear in the sky. Now if someone were to take this globe and show it to the people of Britain or Scythia would a single one of those barbarians fail to see that it was the product of a conscious intelligence?" (Cicero, "The Nature of the Gods," , McGregor, H.C.P., transl., Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, 1986, reprint, pp.158-159)
Although I had at the time never heard of Cicero's (or any other design arguments) a version of this occurred to me in my late teens and converted me from atheism to deism. I stepped outside the chess club where I was playing one night to have a cigarette and I looked up at the night sky. The thought came to me with overwhelming force, how could there be so much design witin the Universe (e.g. the laws of nature), and yet the Universe as a whole be not designed? When the question came to me that way, my atheism (which I had become increasingly troubled with by its meaninglessness) seemed to be so implausible, that I there and then became what I later found out was a deist (i.e. I believed there was a God who created the Universe but could not see how one could know anything more about Him from the evidence of nature).
It is interesting that Darwin himself at times had the same "conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings" from "the ... impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man ... as the result of blind chance or necessity" and at those times Darwin felt "compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man (my emphasis):
"Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far back wards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist." (Darwin, C.R., in Barlow, N., ed., "The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-1882: With Original Omissions Restored," , W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 1969, reprint, pp.92-93).
The second quote is in some ways more remarkable than the first, in that against the Epicurean materialist claim that "if an infinite" (i.e. "countless" in other translations) "number of examples of the twenty-one letters of the alphabet ... were shaken together and poured out on the ground it would be possible for them to fall so as to spell out, say, the whole text of the Annals of Ennius," Cicero doubts "whether chance would permit them to spell out a single verse" (my emphasis):
"`Is it not a wonder that anyone can bring himself to believe that a number of solid and separate particles by their chance collisions and moved only by the force of their own weight could bring into being so marvellous and beautiful a world? If anybody thinks that this is possible, I do not see why he should not think that if an infinite number of examples of the twenty-one letters of the alphabet, made of gold or what you will, were shaken together and poured out on the ground it would be possible for them to fall so as to spell out, say, the whole text of the Annals of Ennius. In fact I doubt whether chance would permit them to spell out a single verse! `So how can these people bring themselves to assert that the universe has been created by the blind and accidental collisions of inanimate particles devoid of colour or any other quality? And even to assert that an infinite number of such worlds are coming into being and passing away all the time. If these chance collisions of atoms can make a world, why cannot they build a porch, or a temple, or a house or a city? A much easier and less laborious task.'" (Cicero, Ibid., pp.161-162).
What is so remarkable about this is that, as we shall see, Cicero's intuition was right, even though a physicist of the stature of Sir Arthur Eddington assumed that, "If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters they might write all the books in the British Museum" (his emphasis):
"There is a faint possibility that at one moment all the molecules might in this way happen to be visiting the one half of the vessel. You will easily calculate that if n is the number of molecules (roughly a quadrillion) the chance of this happening is (1/2)n. The reason why we ignore this chance may be seen by a rather classical illustration. If I let my fingers wander idly over the keys of a typewriter it might happen that my screed made an intelligible sentence. If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters they might write all the books in the British Museum. The chance of their doing so is decidedly more favourable than the chance of the molecules returning to one half of the vessel." (Eddington, A.S., "The Nature of the Physical World," , The Gifford Lectures 1927, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1933, reprint, p.72. Emphasis original)
as did a lesser but more recent physicist, Paul Davies (whose latest book, The Goldilocks Enigma I hope to get for my 60th birthday tomorrow!) assume that "a monkey tinkering with a typewriter will eventually type Shakespeare":
"However, just as a monkey tinkering with a typewriter will eventually type Shakespeare, so somewhere among that vast stack of realities will be worlds that are partially ordered, just by chance." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Science," in Templeton, J.M., ed., "Evidence of Purpose: Scientists Discover the Creator," Continuum: New York NY, 1994, p.53)
But as origin of life theorist Robert Shapiro pointed out, for a chimpanzee at a normal 45-key typewriter, who "never gets tired, and types out one line per second, completely at random," to produce merely the 18-character phrase in Shakespeare's Hamlet, "to be or not to be," the odds would be "1 in 4518, or 1 in 6 x 109" which means "At one try per second, it will take ...more than 1022 years to do that number of tries," i.e. the chimp would "still be typing away long after the stars have ceased to shine and all the planets have been dispersed into space"!:
"J.B.S. Haldane recognized that the chances of obtaining a self-replicating machine depended on the number of parts to it. If the number was small, there was no problem: `"By mere shuffling you will get the letters ACEHIMN to spell 'machine' once in 5040 trials on an average.' If you could shuffle at the rate of once per second, it would require only 84 minutes to run that many tries. This analogy suggests that it should not be hard to put together a smallish replicator, so we must look more closely at it. We will stay with the metaphor of language, but set aside the letters on cards in favor of another much-used situation: the monkey at the typewriter. Let's call him Charlie the Chimp. Charlie is special. He never gets tired, and types out one line per second, completely at random. ... Now let us give Charlie a normal keyboard with, say, 45 keys. The odds suddenly escalate to 1 in 457, or 1 in 370 billion tries. It would take Charlie (or his descendants) 11,845 years to run that many attempts. The word `machine' does not arise as readily as Haldane's first analogy would suggest. Things get rapidly worse when we use longer messages. We will let Charlie try for a bit of Hamlet. The phrase `to be or not to be' has 18 characters, if we count the spaces as characters. The chances that our chimp will type this out are 1 in 4518, or 1 in 6 x 109. At one try per second, it will take poor Charlie more than 1022 years to do that number of tries. Should the open model for the universe be correct, Charlie will still be typing away long after the stars have ceased to shine and all the planets have been dispersed into space through stellar near-collisions. But now we have developed a real thirst for Shakespeare. We want our monkey to type out `to be or not to be: that is the question,' which has 40 characters. The chances then become 4540, or about 1066, to 1. This is a number 10 million times greater than the number of trials maximally available for the random generation of a replicator on the early earth. There we have it. If the chances of getting the replicator at random from a prebiotic soup are less than that of striking `to be or not to be: that is the question' by chance on a typewriter, we had best forget it. The replicator would have about 600 atoms. The chances of Charlie typing a 600-letter message (twice the size of this paragraph) correctly are 1 in 10992." (Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, pp.168-169).
I have read (but don't have the time or space to quote) that Cicero's arguments for design in these quotes, may have influenced the design arguments of Aquinas and Paley. If that were the case, it would be arguable that Cicero (106-43 BC) was the father of ID!
These two quotes alone refute the Darwinists' claim that ID is simply "religion" or "creationism." These arguments above were written by Cicero in ~45 BC (i.e. nearly a century before Christianity existed) and presented by him in the mouth of a Stoic philosopher, Stoicism being not a religion but a "school of philosophy." If even ancient philosophy which makes arguments for design based solely on the evidence of nature, is eventually ruled to be "religion" and "creationism" by the US Supreme Court, then that effectively would confirm that Atheism is the established religion of America!
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 9:20-28. 20Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness. 24When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers." 26He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave." 28After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Altogether, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.
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