Intelligent falling: Wikis

  
  

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Intelligent falling (IF) is a parody of the "intelligent design" (ID) movement. IF is a pseudo-scientific supernatural explanation of the effects of gravity that has become a minor Internet phenomenon. It says free fall is being caused by "the hand of God", as depicted in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling painting.[1] While the current incarnation of IF has its roots in a satirical 2002 Usenet posting, religious explanations of gravity invoking the direct intervention of God span several hundred years, including some of Isaac Newton's own writings.

IF proposes that the scientific explanation of gravitational force cannot explain all aspects of the phenomenon, so credence should be given to the idea that things fall because a higher intelligence is moving them. Furthermore, IF asserts that theories explaining gravity are not internally consistent nor mathematically reconcilable with quantum mechanics, making gravity a "theory in crisis". IF also makes the claim that gravity is "only a theory", parodying the claims made by creationists regarding the theoretical status of evolution. Pretend IF apologists advocate that IF should be taught in school along with the theory of gravity so that students can make "an informed decision" on the subject in accordance with demands to "teach the controversy". IF has found common ground with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a similar critique of intelligent design, and the two are often combined when mentioned in discussions.

Contents

IF as an Internet phenomenon

Date Event
June 14, 2002 "Jeff Stubbs" posts a draft of a letter to the editor that mentions intelligent grappling to the alt.atheism and talk.origins usenet groups.[2]
"I don't like the theory of gravity, I feel personally insulted that engineers design structures only considering physical mass. What about our souls? I propose that science classes also teach the theory of "Intelligent Grappling". There's no way a weak force such as gravity can possibly hold everything onto the planet. It must be God, using our souls, to hold everything together."
June 18, 2002 Elf Sternberg posts a "FAQ on intelligent grappling" on the sci.skeptic usenet group.[3]
May 16, 2005 D. C. Simpson publishes an I Drew This comic strip titled "Teaching Gravity".[4]
May 26, 2005 Joshua Rosenau, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, presents the idea on his blog, citing Isaac Newton.[5]
August 17, 2005 Intelligent falling is the subject of an article in The Onion.[6]
August 27, 2005 An online petition to treat intelligent falling like intelligent design when making decisions about what theories to teach in public schools goes online.[7]

Pre-Internet sentiments resembling IF

In a letter to the Reverend Dr. Richard Bentley in 1692, Isaac Newton wrote: "To your second query I answer that the motions which the planets now have could not spring from any natural cause alone but were impressed by an intelligent agent." This statement is referenced by Intelligent Design advocate Stephen C. Meyer in The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design,[8] who refers to this statement as "Newton's famous postulation of special divine intervention to stabilize the orbital motion in the solar system" in developing his argument of the methodological equivalence of naturalistic and non-naturalistic (i.e. supernatural) theories.

In 1925, Rev. William Asbury Williams, D.D. wrote, in a book titled The Evolution of Man Scientifically Disproved:[9]

The power of attraction, which we may call a property of matter, is really the power of God. The effects are the results of power and intelligence..... Gravitation requires the computation of countless millions of the most complex and difficult problems, every instant, by the divine mind.... These innumerable calculations prove that God is everywhere. We are continually in the immediate awesome presence of an Infinite God.

Charles Darwin clearly opts for the opposite point of view. In 1842, Charles Darwin wrote his "pencil sketch" of his theory[10] in which he sets evidence of common descent against the doctrine of separate creation and asks:

What would the Astronomer say to the doctrine that the planets moved (not) according to the law of gravitation, but from the Creator having willed each separate planet to move in its particular orbit?

Aristotle's theory that objects have a "natural place" could be seen as a precursor to IF. At the more satiric level, the original radio series of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (by Douglas Adams) included a scene involving a giant statue of "Arthur Dent throwing a cup." When the real Arthur Dent inquired what kept the cup in place, he was told that the cup stayed in mid-air because it was "artistically correct" and that gravity was not quite as non-selective as people thought.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.theonion.com/content/files/images/Evangelical-Scientists-C.jpg
  2. ^ http://groups.google.com/group/alt.atheism/msg/92c36e6c5b4a8012?dmode=source&hl=en
  3. ^ http://groups.google.com/group/sci.skeptic/msg/28ebb87902c8ecba?dmode=source&hl=en
  4. ^ Simpson, D. C., "Teaching Gravity", I Drew This
  5. ^ "I've been thinking about this for a while, and I think it's time to discuss my theory of intelligent falling. I was inspired to question the Newtonist dogma on "gravity" when I learned that science cannot explain the movement of three things at once. Sure, Newton's "laws" can explain how two things move, but Newtonists can't explain how a third object would affect that movement." http://jgrr.blogspot.com
  6. ^ "'Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work,' Carson said. 'What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that gravity waves and gravitons are just secular words for God can do whatever He wants.'http://www.theonion.com
  7. ^ "There is growing support to teach Intelligent Design as an alternative to the theory of evolution. It is time to correct another outdated theory." [1]
  8. ^ "An example of theological plausibility functioning to limit design hypotheses can be found by examining the reception of Newton's famous postulation of special divine intervention to stabilize the orbital motion in the solar system. Newton postulated the periodic and special intervention of God to correct for an apparently accumulating instability in the orbits of the outer planets (Jupiter and Saturn) within the solar system. While this episode is often cited to illustrate why divine action or design can never be considered as a scientific explanation, it actually illustrates a more subtle point: how such inferences were constrained by considerations of theological plausibility." http://www.discovery.org
  9. ^ Williams, Rev. William A. (1925 & 1928). The Evolution of Man Scientifically Disproved, In 50 Arguments.  Gutenberg Etext
  10. ^ Darwin's essay of 1842, part II.

External links


Intelligent falling (IF) is a parody of the intelligent design (ID) movement. IF is a pseudoscientific supernatural explanation of the effects of gravity that has become a minor Internet phenomenon. It says free fall is being caused by "the hand of God", as depicted in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco.[1] While the current incarnation of IF has its roots in a satirical 2002 Usenet posting, religious explanations of gravity invoking the direct intervention of God span several hundred years, including some of Isaac Newton's own writings.

IF proposes that the scientific explanation of gravitational force cannot explain all aspects of the phenomenon, so credence should be given to the idea that things fall because a higher intelligence is moving them. Furthermore, IF asserts that theories explaining gravity are not internally consistent nor mathematically reconcilable with quantum mechanics, making gravity a "theory in crisis". IF also makes the claim that gravity is "only a theory", parodying the claims made by creationists regarding the theoretical status of evolution. Pretend IF apologists advocate that IF should be taught in school along with the theory of gravity so that students can make "an informed decision" on the subject in accordance with demands to "teach the controversy". IF has found common ground with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a similar critique of intelligent design, and the two are often combined when mentioned in discussions.

Contents

IF as an Internet phenomenon

Date Event
June 14, 2002 "Jeff Stubbs" posts a draft of a letter to the editor that mentions intelligent grappling to the alt.atheism and talk.origins usenet groups.[2]
"I don't like the theory of gravity, I feel personally insulted that engineers design structures only considering physical mass. What about our souls? I propose that science classes also teach the theory of "Intelligent Grappling". There's no way a weak force such as gravity can possibly hold everything onto the planet. It must be God, using our souls, to hold everything together."
June 18, 2002 Elf Sternberg posts a "FAQ on intelligent grappling" on the sci.skeptic usenet group.[3]
May 16, 2005 D. C. Simpson publishes an I Drew This comic strip titled "Teaching Gravity".[4]
May 26, 2005 Joshua Rosenau, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, presents the idea on his blog, citing Isaac Newton.[5]
August 17, 2005 Intelligent falling is the subject of an article in The Onion.[6]
January 4, 2010 Indian news satire website Faking News uses the concept to write a spoof news - Apple dropped from Burj Dubai to validate Newton’s laws disappears.[7]
February 20, 2010 Faking News uses the concept again to create a similar parody - Intelligent Recall.[8]

Pre-Internet sentiments resembling IF

Occasionalism in Islam

IF is a version of the philosophical and theological idea of occasionalism, which is a theory about causation which says that created substances (matter and natural forces) cannot be efficient causes of events. Instead, all events are taken to be caused directly by God himself.

Such a religious view was advocated by the 11th century Muslim philosopher Al-Ghazali in his work the Incoherence of the Philosophers. He famously stated that when cotton comes into contact with fire, the cotton is not burned by the fire, but directly burned by God or God through his angels:

...our opponent claims that the agent of the burning is the fire exclusively;’ this is a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of the burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the disconnexion of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action, and what is the proof that it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning, when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only a simultaneity, not a causation, and, in reality, there is no other cause but God.[citation needed]

The Occasionalism of Al-Ghazali is an important concept in Islamic theology today, particularly in the Asharite (Traditionalist) school of Muslim theology.

Issac Newton

In a letter to the Reverend Dr. Richard Bentley in 1692, Isaac Newton wrote: "To your second query I answer that the motions which the planets now have could not spring from any natural cause alone but were impressed by an intelligent agent." This statement is referenced by Intelligent Design advocate Stephen C. Meyer in The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design,[9] who refers to this statement as "Newton's famous postulation of special divine intervention to stabilize the orbital motion in the solar system" in developing his argument of the methodological equivalence of naturalistic and non-naturalistic (i.e. supernatural) theories.

In 1925, Rev. William Asbury Williams, D.D. wrote, in a book titled The Evolution of Man Scientifically Disproved:[10]

The power of attraction, which we may call a property of matter, is really the power of God. The effects are the results of power and intelligence..... Gravitation requires the computation of countless millions of the most complex and difficult problems, every instant, by the divine mind.... These innumerable calculations prove that God is everywhere. We are continually in the immediate awesome presence of an Infinite God.

Charles Darwin's response

Charles Darwin clearly opted for the opposite point of view. In 1842, Darwin wrote his "pencil sketch" of his theory[11] in which he set evidence of common descent against the doctrine of separate creation and asked:

What would the Astronomer say to the doctrine that the planets moved (not) according to the law of gravitation, but from the Creator having willed each separate planet to move in its particular orbit?

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.theonion.com/content/files/images/ http://web.archive.org/web/20080709012533/http://www.theonion.com/content/files/images/
  2. ^ http://groups.google.com/group/alt.atheism/msg/92c36e6c5b4a8012?dmode=source&hl=en
  3. ^ http://groups.google.com/group/sci.skeptic/msg/28ebb87902c8ecba?dmode=source&hl=en
  4. ^ Simpson, D. C., "Teaching Gravity", I Drew This
  5. ^ "I've been thinking about this for a while, and I think it's time to discuss my theory of intelligent falling. I was inspired to question the Newtonist dogma on "gravity" when I learned that science cannot explain the movement of three things at once. Sure, Newton's "laws" can explain how two things move, but Newtonists can't explain how a third object would affect that movement." http://jgrr.blogspot.com
  6. ^ "'Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work,' Carson said. 'What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that gravity waves and gravitons are just secular words for God can do whatever He wants.'http://www.theonion.com
  7. ^ Apple dropped from Burj Dubai to validate Newton’s laws disappears | Faking News [1]
  8. ^ Creationists propose “Intelligent Recall” theory to explain extinction of species | Faking News [2]
  9. ^ "An example of theological plausibility functioning to limit design hypotheses can be found by examining the reception of Newton's famous postulation of special divine intervention to stabilize the orbital motion in the solar system. Newton postulated the periodic and special intervention of God to correct for an apparently accumulating instability in the orbits of the outer planets (Jupiter and Saturn) within the solar system. While this episode is often cited to illustrate why divine action or design can never be considered as a scientific explanation, it actually illustrates a more subtle point: how such inferences were constrained by considerations of theological plausibility." http://www.discovery.org
  10. ^ Williams, Rev. William A. (1925 & 1928). The Evolution of Man Scientifically Disproved, In 50 Arguments. Gutenberg Etext
  11. ^ Darwin's essay of 1842, part II.

External links








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