By Michael Sherlock
God of the Gaps
Intelligent design theory, and I use the word theory in its strictest colloquial sense, is one giant appeal to ignorance. It rests entirely upon the unknown and seeks to present such negative evidence as a positive scientific basis for the theory that an intelligent designer created the universe. But ignorance, as most rational people know, can only testify on behalf of ignorance and nothing more. To put it logically, the absence of knowledge about ‘X’ (origins) in no way vouches for knowledge of ‘Y. (god)’ This god of the gaps basis for intelligent design is fairly well-known by well-read atheists, so I thought I would add to the attack against this preposterous theory by addressing it from a psychological and neurological point of view.
When I first began reading about pareidolia, it caused me to ponder its connection with psychological projection, which in turn led me to consider the psychological foundation of intelligent design theory. However, as is often the case, I am getting ahead of myself, so let me start at the beginning.
I guess I should first begin by explaining what pareidolia is and how it relates to psychological projection, and how that connection offers a compelling explanation for the false nature of the theory of intelligent design.
Pareidolia is a phenomenon in which random and meaningless images or sounds are seen as forming recognizable or significant patterns.(1) The alleged face on mars that became popular fodder for ancient alien theorists and other members of the tin-foil hat crowd, as well as the $28,000 grilled cheese sandwich with the apparent face of the Virgin Mary on it, which, if you ask me, looked more like Marilyn Manson, are just two examples of visual pareidolia. This phenomenon exists because our brains are predisposed to seeking out and finding familiar patterns, even where there aren’t any. We do this by adding to, and subtracting from, data, or by data mining in order to produce recognizable patterns in a mess of otherwise random stimuli. Not only are our brains hardwired to discover both existent and non-existent patterns in this way, but they are also geared to imbue these patterns with emotional meanings, meanings that only exist within our minds.(2) It is this editing process that got me thinking about how both pareidolia and psychological projection are linked and how they relate to intelligent design theory. But, once again, I am getting ahead of myself.