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Editor's Page

Intelligent Design vs. Evolution – or not?

 

In my mind the problem with Darwinism is not as a theory of evolution, but it’s insistence on the whole exceedingly complicated  process being random, or accidental, as implied in the expression “Natural Selection” – an oxymoron if there ever was one, for, as Don Cruse has often maintained in these pages, “selection” implies will and intelligence. When I look at nature I see intelligence, even wisdom. In fact nature – mineral, plant, animal and human – seems to be wisdom incarnate. (What the human element does with this wisdom is another story.) I discover the laws of nature; I don't invent them, I discover them. (I haven't personally discovered any laws of natures which others haven't discovered before me, so we could say that I and each one of us re-discovers them.) These laws, which display an awesome intelligence, existed before any human being was in a position to discover them by observation and thinking. And they include evolution. So what’s the problem? Does that make me a proponent of Intelligent Design? Well, yes, except I that I shudder at the political implications involved in the United States.    

 

Terry Coyne, professor in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, writes at http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge167.html :

 

“…Intelligent design is simply the third attempt of creationists to proselytize our children at the expense of good science and clear thinking. Having failed to ban evolution from schools, and later to get equal classroom time for scientific creationism, they have made a few adjustments designed to sneak Christian cosmogony past the First Amendment. And these adjustments have given ID a popularity never enjoyed by earlier forms of creationism.

Even the president of the United States has lent a sympathetic ear: George W. Bush recently told reporters in Texas that intelligent design should be taught in public schools alongside evolution because "part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." Articles by IDers, or about their "theory," regularly appear in mainstream publications such as The New York Times.

Why have the new image and the new approach been more successful? For a start, IDers have duped many people by further removing God from the picture, or at least hiding him behind the frame. No longer do creationists mention a deity, or even a creator, but simply a neutral-sounding "intelligent designer," as if it were not the same thing. This designer could in principle be Brahma, or the Taoist P'an Ku, or even a space alien; but ID creationists, as will be evident to anybody who attends to all that they say, mean only one entity: the biblical God. Their problem is that invoking this deity in science classes in public schools is unconstitutional. So IDers never refer openly to God, and people unfamiliar with the history of their creationist doctrine might believe that there is a real scientific theory afoot. They use imposing new terms such as "irreducible complexity," which make their arguments seem more sophisticated than those of earlier creationists. In addition, many IDers have more impressive academic credentials than did earlier scientific creationists, whose talks and antics always bore a whiff of the revival meeting. Unlike scientific creationists, many IDers work at secular institutions rather than at Bible schools. IDers work, speak, and write like trained academics; they do not come off as barely repressed evangelists. Their ranks include Phillip Johnson, the most prominent spokesperson for ID, and a retired professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley; Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University; William Dembski, a mathematician-philosopher and the director of the Center for Theology and Science at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Jonathan Wells, who has a doctorate in biology from Berkeley...”

 

Aside from Coyne’s rejection of ID, his concise description of Darwinist evolution theory is very well done and worth reading at the above site.

 

The Bush administration has been guilty of altering, suppressing or overriding scientific findings on global warming - with Katrina being one of the the probable results; missile defense; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health; lead and mercury poisoning in children; non-abstinence methods of birth control. It has also appointed unqualified people to scientific advisory committees and forced out qualified ones who don’t agree with them. And the fact that Bush said he supports ID makes many critics of the administration wary – including myself. Maybe they are using it as a disguised creationism. But that, to me, is irrelevant in respect to whether intelligent design exists or not. We must be wary of guilt by association. If it’s true that ID is simply masked creationism and a Christian fundamentalist attempt to denigrate evolution, I would have to reject it. On the other hand, if it accepts the basic idea of evolution, but considers that there is design behind it, which of course implies a creative spiritual being or beings, then I’m all for it. So I’ll call the fundy version “political ID”, and my version SID (spiritual ID).

The conflict in the U.S. is whether ID should be taught in state schools along with evolution. The anti-IDers have two basic arguments: 1) ID is not science; and 2) the constitutional separation of church and state prohibits even mentioning it in the classroom. The pro-IDers not only say that it should be taught, but also that it must be taught. I ask: don’t the teachers have a choice? Wouldn’t the whole political mess be cleaned up if teachers were free to give their own interpretation? Apparently in that mecca of freedom that is the United States of America, teachers are bound by prejudices of both sides to say only what the state decides they can say. Isn’t this what George Orwell saw coming in his prescient work: 1984 ?

Materialist Darwinists cannot prove that there is no intelligence behind evolution any more than the IDers can prove that there is. The facts of evolution are indeed observed, but what they mean, the how and why, is interpretation of these facts, not the facts themselves. Yet materialist scientists and laymen continue to insist that theirs is the only possible interpretation and any other is “not science”.  Perhaps we need a return to philosophical science, where unprejudiced thinking about the facts is permitted. The how and why – and even the “by whom”   is a decision for each individual to make for him/herself. The materialists say that Natural Selection is a fact. But it is a fact they can’t prove, because in reality it is no more than a philosophical element of Darwinism. Therefore, if they are free to preach NS in the classroom, why can’t teachers at least bring to their pupils' attention that “…it ain’t necessarily so…”?

 


FTS