Unguided Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: Paradigm Smackdown!

Clerk’s Log, MJDate 55179.26: They say, “Don’t mess with success,” and it’s true that this is the most heavily commented article at the Scriptorium. But I’ve made some revisions anyway, for reasons I’ll report shortly. In the meantime, enjoy — and applaud scientists who search for the truth.
 

It’s like watching one of those sitcoms where the lead buffoon is running around making lives miserable because he/she is working from a false premise. Frustration is sure to ensue, for him/her because a facial egging is inevitable, and for the viewer because you really hate to see someone screw up so badly, especially when it just isn’t necessary.

BOOM

You all know by now that Kansas has revised its Science Curriculum Standards so that naturalistic evolution is no longer the exclusively approved doctrine of universal origins. The response … well, you could’ve heard an atom split.

  • Jason Kottke of kottke.org screams, “Teaching pseudoscience as real science, that’s like asking the math teachers to tell the kids that 2+2=5 because God said so.”
  • A mournful P. Z. Myers of Pharyngula declares, “It’s a sad day for American science. We’ve lost Kansas.”
  • And Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing — a man whose writing I’ve enjoyed and who is certainly smart enough to know better — repeats the clichéd condemnation of an alternate scheme, Intelligent Design, as “Biblical Creationism tarted up in scientific dress.” He then praises a writer who proposes that other origins schemes be taught, such as that the universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
  • In addition, we have shots fired by religious sources such as The Revealer, which announces: “ID is not only bad science, it’s bad religion.”

Okay, what’s really going on? We’ve got three elements here: Kansas, Intelligent Design, and science.

Yes, Toto, we are still in Kansas

Check out the source — a rundown on Kansas’s standards changes, by the eight board members who proposed them — and you’ll find that Kansas did not enact anything with regard to Intelligent Design. The working draft of the recommendations contained a paragraph emphasizing that Intelligent Design was not part of the Science Curriculum Standards, although it would not be prohibited either. That paragraph — and with it the mention of ID — was deleted. So the only way the new standards might have mentioned ID would have been to deny it any particular status.

What the revised standards do say is this:

Evolution is accepted by many scientists but questioned by some. The Board has heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them. In choosing this approach to science curriculum standards, we are encouraged by the similar approach taken by other states, whose new science standards incorporate scientific criticisms into the science curriculum that describes the scientific case for the theory of evolution.

To the thirty-eight Nobel laureates who apparently didn’t read the changes, didn’t attend any of the hearings that discussed them, but called for their rejection nonetheless, the board members who proposed them replied, “We believe the Laureates’ letter, which clearly seeks to suppress any criticism of evolutionary theory, powerfully illustrates the need for the Changes. We believe education should inform, not indoctrinate.”

Makes sense to me.

May I see some ID, please?

“Intelligent Design isn’t just bad science,” says The Revealer, “it’s bad religion.” A nice, punchy subhead (and I’ll blame the editors rather than the author). But calling ID bad religion is like calling CSI: Crime Scene Investigation a bad sitcom.

We can nitpick, of course, by saying that the article should have said “theology” rather than “religion.” Strictly speaking, theology (from theos, god, and logos, word or discourse) is to gods what anthropology is to human beings: it’s what you know about them. Religion is what you do about it. Intelligent Design carries no intrinsic ethos or imperative, no “we ought (not)” or “thou shalt (not),” and therefore shouldn’t be called a religion as such.

Theology, then. Article writer J. M. Tyree makes the point that ID is not, by itself, a good Christian theology — and he’s right. It tells us nothing about the Intelligent Designer — singular or plural, natural or supernatural1 — and if we’re confined to observation of the world around us, we have to deal with the fact that there’s a lot about the universe that’s just plain nasty. We could conclude, with Mark Twain, that “If there is a God, he is a malign thug.” For all we know, says Tyree, the god of the universe might be H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, and his cosmic design not only intelligent but malevolent. “Is there anything inherent in ID,” Tyree asks, “that tells us for certain who let the dogs out? If not, is ID really much use as a Christian theory, or is it simply another spacecake philosophy that suggests, like The X-Files, that ‘something is out there’?”

And there we have the flaw in his argument: the assumption that because ID is advanced by evangelicals, it’s considered to be a self-contained evangelical theological system. It isn’t — and it’s not intended to be (as the various Jewish, Muslim, and other scientists in the ID movement — including atheists — will freely tell you). All it says, when you get it down to basics, is this:

  1. Either intelligence was involved in the formation of the world around us, or it wasn’t.
  2. Darwinism chooses the latter option, affirming that life on our earth came into its present forms, change by tiny change, through unguided natural processes including random mutation and natural selection. No influence outside those processes existed.
  3. To paraphrase CSI: investigator Gil Grissom, the evidence argues otherwise. The evidence is not atheist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Flying Spaghetti Monsterian. It is simply the evidence. What we see bears more resemblance to the complex systems that arise from our own intelligent design than to random occurrences.
  4. We conclude, therefore, that Mind was involved in the development of the earth’s lifeforms. Exactly how Mind was involved, and what we can learn about it apart from its being intelligent and (at least once) active, are the next questions — not the first.

The answer to Tyree’s question, then, is threefold:

  • No, it doesn’t tell us who let the dogs out (and this alone should make it abundantly clear that, contra Doctorow and others, ID is very different from biblical creationism).
  • Yes, it does tell us something is (or was) out there.
  • It is not a Christian theory. But neither is it necessarily incompatible with Christianity — unlike Darwinian anti-supernaturalism.

Christianity does say, in the words of Romans 1:20, “What can be known about God is plain to [humans], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” According to this passage the Creator’s power and deity are discernible in nature, and that should provide a reasonable starting point for thinking men and women, but for more specifics (like God’s personality or the origin of human evil) they must go elsewhere — specifically, to the Creator’s self-revelation in Jesus the Christ and in the words of the Bible. Biblical creationism takes this route, going from the scriptural text to the physical illustrations. Intelligent Design, which works only with the physical data, would be bad theology indeed — if you tried to shoehorn it into that category. The physical sciences alone will take you only so far.

Which brings us to the third, and critical, element in the discussion.

What’s science, Daddy?

Let’s look at what’s really happening here. What we are witnessing with this whole Darwinism-vs.-ID business is a classic Kuhnian paradigm clash.

Scientific tsunamis

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the late Thomas Kuhn proposes a model of what happens when generally accepted science changes.2 It isn’t a gentle metamorphosis but a radical transformation. Like a tsunami, the change transforms a terrarium into an aquarium. One moment it’s California, the next it’s sub-Pacific.

Roughly sketched and simplified, what happens is this:

  1. Starting out with no scientific structure, we observe a quantity of events.
  2. Orderly creatures that we are, we try to put together as unified an explanation as we can for what we see happening.
  3. Finally someone comes up with a theory that seems to fit most of the evidence, and
    < • click • >
  4. Knowledge crystallizes around that theory, like rock candy on a string in sugar-saturated water. Behold: Science1. (I told you this would be a rough sketch.)

Congratulations! It’s a paradigm

Knowledge accumulates further, but from that point on it’s less a matter of opening up new territory than of filling in the missing areas of the now-established matrix of knowledge. We may call the principles that give structure to that matrix — the string in the sugar-water — its paradigm, a term Kuhn borrows from linguistics. (A paradigm in language is a representative sample of a conjugation or declension; for example,

I think we think
you think you think
he/she/it thinks they think

is a paradigm that also reflects the way we conjugate sing, drive, eviscerate, and so forth.) Kuhn defines “normal science” as scientific activity within the established matrix, and describes it as “puzzle-solving” rather than exploration. The difference is rather like the difference between the “original” and “next generations” of Star Trek: Captain Kirk’s Enterprise boldly went where none had gone before, whereas Captain Picard’s Enterprise spent more time ironing out social or political problems within Federation borders.

SHIFT_paradigm

But all is not completely settled. Here and there events pop up that don’t fit the accepted paradigm. These anomalies are few at first, but over time they accumulate. Some of them find acceptance as the paradigm is slightly altered to fit, while others are considered to be errors. Eventually enough “errors” pile up to challenge the paradigm, and a state of tension exists until someone comes up with a new set of theories, and — continuing the Star Trek imagery — a mighty “Genesis wave” sweeps through the scientific establishment, replacing one knowledge-matrix with another: a “paradigm shift.” Behold: Science2.

And that, says Kuhn, is how scientific revolutions take place. What’s more, a scientific revolution often involves as much emotional upheaval as its military counterpart. Scientists who hold to the one paradigm disagree heatedly with those who hold to the other, and rarely does the “old guard” change its mind. Eventually it just dies out.3

Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas …

This upheaval is what we’re seeing in the Kansas hullabaloo. Two paradigms are at war, with the random-natural paradigm (Sciencen) determined to see to it that the intelligence-allowed paradigm (Sciencen+1) not only doesn’t win the day, but gets laughed out of court.

The Science Curriculum Standards’ definition of science reads: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory-building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”

No one seems to have a problem with that clause. In fact, according to the Evolution News & Views blog, this definition “is nearly identical to the definition of science adhered to in 40 states across the country (nine states do not define science at all). Kansas is the only state that did not have a traditional definition of science.” Now it does, and it’s in good company.

The problem lies with the clause that (as reported by the Red State Rabble blog) previously followed that one but is now eliminated: “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.”

In other words, before the changes science was defined as excluding all un-“natural” elements. Now it isn’t. And that’s what all the hoo-ha is about. Because for the dominant paradigm, naturalism is the starting point for scientific inquiry, the continental divide between science and pseudoscience.4 Allowing Mind into the discussion, it is feared, will inevitably lead to talk of God. And that cannot be tolerated if the discussion is to remain scientific. Science must of necessity remain a-theistic.

Kansas now disagrees. Its Science Curriculum Standards do not mandate that science be theistic. But neither do they mandate that it be atheistic either. What they do encourage, along with the standards of other states, is attention to the evidence.

A modest, common-ground proposal

Jason Kottke suggests the following instruction to teachers:

Teach your students about evolution, and then tell them about intelligent design, just as the state curriculum says. Then spend some time going over what science is, what a theory is, and so on. Apply the definition to each. That way, you’ve taught ID by the books and then demonstrated its relationship to science.

Although I realize that Mr. Kottke is arguing for the naturalistic-science side, I like his wording (well, most of it; we’ve already seen that “the state curriculum says” no such thing). Children should indeed be taught what science is, including whether or not it must operate from naturalistic assumptions. They also need to know what a hypothesis is, what a theory5 is, and what constitutes experimental evidence. Then all the definitions should be applied both to Darwinian evolution and to Intelligent Design. If either one quacks like a duck, paddles like a duck, and flaps its wings like a duck, then it deserves to be called a duck.

But first let’s be sure about what a duck is.

Coda

Meanwhile, the paradigm clash goes on, and although science is popularly held to be an open-minded quest for truth, some adherents of the naturalistic paradigm seem determined to prove otherwise.

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered for 10 November 2005 included a story on Dr. Richard Sternberg, editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, and the — harrassment seems too mild a word — the punishment he has received from his colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution, where he is a research assistant. His crime? Simply that he published in the Proceedings an article by Stephen Meyer supporting Intelligent Design.

This was hardly a case of a zealous editor proselytizing his colleagues. The article had been approved through the proper peer-review process. Dr. Sternberg notes, furthermore, that he himself is neither an evangelical, a fundamentalist, a young-earth creationist, nor a theistic evolutionist. Nevertheless, his publication of Dr. Meyer’s article has subjected him to a campaign of abuse that, were it in some foreign country and the Meyer article on the other side of the naturalism/ID aisle, would be strongly denounced by U.S. organizations dedicated to intellectual freedoms.

This, not “losing Kansas,” is a sad day for American science.


Discussion continues with “Intelligent Design and President Tilghman.”

NOTES

  1. Here I call “Shenanigans!” on Carl Sagan, who in his television series Cosmos casually sweeps away the idea of a cosmic “watchmaker,” saying basically, “We have an idea we like better,” namely naturalistic evolution. But what is his novel Contact all about? An encounter with the engineers — the intelligent designers — of our universe. And he’s comfortable with the idea. [return ↩ ]
  2. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). [return ↩ ]
  3. Here we see a rationale for Clarke’s First Law: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist says that something is possible, (s)he is almost certainly right. When (s)he says it is impossible, (s)he is very probably wrong.” The scientist in question is simply on the other side of the paradigm shift. Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible, Millennium ed. (London: Victor Gollancz, 1999), 1–2.

    The alert reader may wonder — since Kuhn does not claim truth for any particular paradigm, and indeed the issue is not whether it is true but whether it best fits the data at the time — how I, who believe in absolute truth, can support his model. Simple, really: Kuhn speaks of our finite minds and senses, and the fact that our observations are colored by our perspectives. And he’s correct. The only way we can know absolute truth, therefore, is for it to be revealed to us from outside ourselves. And so it is. The self-authenticating nature of God and his Word is a classic Christian doctrine. [return ↩ ]

  4. A typical overstatement is one by Pat Hayes of Red State Rabble: “They don’t just want an alternative (teleological) explanation for evolution taught in biology. They now challenge the naturalistic explanation for what happens when students add aqueous ammonia to a beaker containing a few drops of aqueous copper sulfate in chemistry class. Maybe, it wasn’t the chemical properties that turned the solution blue, maybe it was God or some unknown designer.” Clearly Hayes has overlooked the difference between direct and indirect causes; also, he evidently denies that science looks for patterns in natural phenomena, thinking instead that every event is treated as a special case.

    One other factor in the debate: As it happens, the eight board members who supported the changes to the standards also support Intelligent Design. Opponents seem convinced that even though the revised standards do not even mention ID, the changes are part of a strategy to replace evolution with ID as the “authorized” theory of origins. I leave it to the reader to judge whether this is truly the revelation of a sinister conspiracy, or a fallacious ad hominem argument. [return ↩ ]

  5. Note here the definition of theory as used in scientific circles. One doesn’t use the word to suggest that a theory isn’t realistic (as opposed to the way we commonly say “in theory” versus “in practice”; if it doesn’t work in practice, it’s bad theory). Instead it refers to a body of hypotheses that have been tested and proved by experimental data to the point that they’re accepted as the basis for further action. In other words, “this is as certain as it gets.” In our scientific understanding, a theory does interpret actual reality. (The difference between theory and law is not certainty but breadth — a theory covers much broader territory than a law, which deals with a specific situation.) Indeed, the whole knowledge-matrix represented by a paradigm can be labeled “theory.”

    The fact that evolution is a theory does not mean it’s wrong, any more than the theory of special relativity is wrong (assuming it isn’t) or the theory of gravitation is wrong (ditto). A reasonable response to “Evolution is a theory” is, “So is everything else. So is Intelligent Design.” It all originates in hypothesis and is tested experimentally.

    The question then becomes: to what extent has either evolution or ID been proved by experimental data? And here I yield to the lab people. [return ↩ ]

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19 Responses to Unguided Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: Paradigm Smackdown!

  1. Michael says:

    No, I hadn’t seen the Dilbert blog — and I really appreciate your pointing it out! So far I’ve glanced at the main post in the first item, and I appreciate Scott Adams’s willingness to say “hold on thar, let’s step back and take a look.” And just as the astronomer friend who reviewed my article before I posted it said he hadn’t thought of connecting the ID issue with Kuhn, I hadn’t thought about Dilbertian parallels to the way various researchers’ conclusions evolve into “Everybody Knows …” An intriguing wrinkle!

    And it’s interesting to see how many comments are of the “I’ve just lost all respect for you, sir” kind. (I trust that, with his experience in this Dilbertian society, he’s able to let them slide off his back.) Me, I’m all for light over heat — and I’m amazed at the heat that this issue has generated, most of it from the Sciencen) side. More and more I’m convinced that Kuhn was right on the money here. With the added factor that when some people start thinking about a Designer, they also start thinking about Accountability, and fight the idea tooth and nail.

  2. Mike Purvis says:

    I think the real key with ID and Creationism is to not let it become an excuse. Saying that something is irreducibly complex, and then saying “Well, God made it like that, so uhh, yeah” isn’t a very satisfying answer. Whether science or not, it’s no good to use God as some kind of excuse for not pursuing more knowledge. On the other hand, I think the ID argument is more that evolutionists become close-minded by always seeking a purely naturalistic answer to everything.

  3. Michael says:

    Bingo! My problem with the attitude I’ve seen on both sides (although on the one side it seems confined to the religious sector and, on the other, to the scientists, which latter really freaks me out — as I said about Cory Doctorow, they’re smart enough to know better) is that it throws up a roadblock in the search for knowledge. “There are some things man was not meant to know” is, IMHO, monster-movie bovine fertilizer. If we aren’t meant to know something, then we jolly well won’t be able to find it out.

    I can see a moral reason for not pursuing a line of research. My current thinking on embryonic stem cells, for example, alludes to the Babylon 5 episode “Deathwalker” and what it does with the principle of “immortality for half of the race at the expense of the other half.” The naturalism-ID dispute, however, isn’t over morals but over perceived facts.

  4. Julia says:

    To paraphrase CSI investigator Gil Grissom, the evidence argues otherwise. The evidence is not atheist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Flying Spaghetti Monsterian. It is simply the evidence.

    What is the evidence?

    Incidentally, the theory of evolution does not preclude the existence of an intelligent designer, much as some people would like that to be so.

  5. Michael says:

    Thanks for your comment! Let me take your points in reverse order.

    Incidentally, the theory of evolution does not preclude the existence of an intelligent designer, much as some people would like that to be so.

    The concept of evolution — i.e., a process of stepwise changing from one form to another, more complex form — doesn’t, no. And many there are, including members of the Intelligent Design movement, who believe that evolution did take place, intelligently guided. This is why Dr. Sternberg was careful to point out that he was not, among the other things, a theistic evolutionist.

    There’s more than one theory of evolution, however. The dominant theory, the one operating in the Kansas dispute, says that the process is not guided by anyone and never was. Nor is there any goal toward which it would be guided — the late Stephen Jay Gould maintained, for example, that if you could rewind history’s tape and replay it, evolution would likely take a different path than the one it did this time around. The theory furthermore says that the steps involved in evolution are tiny, consisting of random (again, note the word), naturally-caused mutations that either survive natural selection or are extinguished by it. It is totally natural and totally random. We are what we are by chance, both in the nature of the process and in the overall result. There is no designer, intelligent or otherwise.

    What is the evidence?

    A good question, which I had to leave open because (a) the life sciences aren’t my area of expertise and (b) if they were, the answer would be longer than space here would allow.

    One kind of evidence that comes to mind quickly has to do with the “irreducible complexity” that Mike Purvis referred to above. We’ve said that the steps of evolution are tiny, so that any natural system we see that evolved from a simple form to its current complex form had a predecessor that was one step less complex. A problem arises when we come upon a mechanism in nature that appears to be at a threshold level of complexity: if any part were taken away, it wouldn’t just work less effectively, it wouldn’t work at all — and natural selection would eliminate it. The previous step, then, would never have survived.

    An example of this, which you may have heard of by now, is the bacterial flagellum — the whiplike appendage that propels some kinds of bacterium from one place to another. The “motor” that drives the flagellum consists of a number of proteins that must all be present and in the correct configuration, or else the whole thing won’t function. It is “irreducibly complex” — and therefore could not have reached that level of complexity by the small steps naturalistic evolution demands.

    For further reading, you might consult Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box. A list of sources can also be found at http://www.discovery.org/csc/essentialReadings.php.

  6. John Teevan says:

    Impressive and articulate.

    There are two “lead buffoons” in this case and you have nailed the naturalistic one. The other is that separation of church and state forbids scientific inquiry at least in the public school classroom. This is a version of the same dogmatics that got Galileo in trouble.

    So the two step argument is

    1. ID sounds like it may be science, but since it is not naturalisitic it is really religion.
    2. Religion has no place in the classroom. Therefore, teaching or referring ID in the classroom is illegal.

    Or, with a twist, ID is illegal and therefore unscientific. “Illegal” is the modern equivalent of “heresy” and the decision comes with the same elitist authority as a papal bull. Why enshrine medieval papal thinking in modern dress?

  7. Eric says:

    Great stuff. About Kansas, you should have to live here. You would think that all intelligent life has stopped. Such is the editorials and letters to the editors. Also the follow up story in regards to the University of Kansas religion/philosophy prof and his anti-ID class is worth buying the paper for each day.

  8. Michael says:

    John: A neat turnabout on a clichéd argument! Usually we see the evolutionist scientist cast as Galileo, tyrannized by the big, mean church. But Galileo was saying, look at the evidence apart from your assumptions. Which is what the ID people I’ve heard from are doing. Nicely wrought!

    Eric: Wow, no kidding. So Prof. Mirecki planned his course as “a nice slap” in the “big fat face” of “fundies,” eh? C’mon, people. Nasty never works. It certainly didn’t help his career any — all it did was alienate members of his own department and the administration. Especially those involved with fund-raising, yes sir, you betcha.

    He could have accomplished his goal more effectively through subtle slights, out-of-context quoting, fallacious logic, and innuendo. They have a pretty good track record so far.

  9. Andy says:

    Evolution is currently the only theory that needs protection by law to prevent open debate in an academic environment. All other theories are required to stand on their own merit. If a theory can not be challenged it can not be considered scientific but must be considered a religion based on beliefs and faith. Evolution is a religion.

  10. Michael says:

    Or at least an establishment dogma.

    One test of whether or not something can be called “science,” it seems to me, is whether it lends itself to the “scientific method” (oh, dear, there’s that Star Trek quote running through my head again) — gather experimental data, formulate hypothesis, test hypothesis with further experimental data, change hypothesis as necessary, and so forth. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not up on the research currently used to prove naturalistic evolution (and thus take it out of the realm of contemporary philosophy), but what I’ve seen of the ID methodology fits right in: here’s the Darwinian proposal; here’s the evidence against it, requiring an alternate hypothesis. In such light, it seems strange — apart from the matter of definition discussed in the article above — that so many people shout, “Bad science!”

  11. Mitch Cariaga says:

    Michael… keep it up… great stuff!

  12. Michael says:

    Thanks, Mitch! And good to hear from you. Much water has gone under the bridge since those days in North Kokomo …

  13. Mike Dodaro says:

    Good collection of quotes from, dare I say, rabid opponents of ID.

  14. Tom Triggs says:

    I have done some teaching on the area of Creation vs. evolution as a pastor and one of the things that I have not seen anyone address in the replies is the fallacy of uniformitarianism which is one of the hinge pins of evolution. If people are looking for evidence, that seems to me to be a good place to start to see just how much of evolution is theory. Since it can easily be shown that things do not and have not happened universally in a uniform and consistent fashion (which is necessary for both the time and development of evolution) why not begin there for the evidence?

  15. Michael says:

    it can easily be shown that things do not and have not happened universally in a uniform and consistent fashion

    Hmm. Interesting thought. What are you using as proofs?

  16. Nate says:

    The question then becomes: to what extent has either evolution or ID been proved by experimental data? And here I yield to the lab people.

    I find it interesting that the Laws of Nature, Universe, and theory of relativity make it more difficult for science to prove a “pure Darwinian Evolution.” What has been observed in “testing,” “hypothesising,” “proven” is not “order out of chaos” that evolution teaches. The “evidence” suggests, on levels of DNA, genetics, and cosmology, that DNA, genetics, molecules, etc., are built on information, which is built on information, which is built on information, and so forth. Meaning that information comes from information. DNA and genetic studies have shown evidence that they are results of information, and not information being the result of DNA/genetics as evolution suggests.

    What is even more “eye-opening” to me, is the classification evolution brings to humans. Darwin’s theory suggests a “Human Superior Order” based on skin color (Aborigines being the lowest, most monkey-like; Negroids, Mongoloids, and Caucasian being the highest form). Skin color, and differences in eye-shape, ear-shapes, etc., count only as 0.012% difference. In fact, we all have the same skin color, it’s called melanin. We just have different shades of melanin; which suggests that no “race” is more superior than the other; and that we are all “human beings.” Evolution has been a popular theory in Science, but the more you dig to prove it, the more the theory is questioned because of the evidence found.

    With that said, I’m not keen to the idea of Intelligent Design. As a Christian, I do not hold to the theology that God is a concept; and I strongly feel that God should not be taught as a concept (you know, the whole idea of trying to serve man and God at the same time). The one thing that is highly overlooked, even by posts here, is that there are Christian organizations that explain evidences of “science” in regards to the Bible and scripture. Reasons to Believe founder Hugh Ross is one (http://www.reasonstobelieve.org); Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham is another (http://www.answersingenesis.org); and the Institute for Creation Research, founder unknown to me (http://www.icr.org), are organizations founded and run by credible scientists in their fields, and challenge the theories of evolution. Where all these organizations are challenged by the science community, politics, etc., is they also teach theology according to what they believe (Jesus Christ is the Son of God, man has sinned against God, Jesus died for our sins to restore mankind’s relationship with God, and rose from the dead three days later to give mankind eternal life). This is the main reason why evolution theories are not challenged on a more level basis: the theology taught by these organizations in hand with science. Personally, I think it’s a shame that (as been suggested already) the science community is becoming more “closed minded,” because they A) do not want to believe in “God” or a concept of a “God;” and/or B) they do not want to “define” who “God” is, or define who the concept of “God” can be. I think they don’t have to. I think that is where science can leave that definition to the individual, and what they believe, as well as the theologians.

    Thanks for letting me rant………

    Nate

  17. Michael says:

    If that’s a rant, then by all means rant away! It’s the unreasoning rants we can do without.

    What you’re saying about ID, however, is more properly directed toward biblical creationism. The point that I’ve tried to make in the article — and that is being missed by all who attack Intelligent Design as “creationism in a lab coat” — is that ID isn’t about theology, it’s about data and their interpretation, the meat of contemporary science. Theology would tell you who the Designer was; ID doesn’t. All ID says on the matter is that what we see around us is the product of Mind rather than chance. Period. Whose mind, now, that’s another question entirely. For all ID can tell you, it could be the evangelical or the Jewish God, the Mormon God, the Muslim Allah, the Gnostic Demiurge, or the Lords of Kobol. ID will not teach the Torah, the Five Pillars of Islam, or the Christian gospel. They simply are not part of its procedures nor of its outcomes. And thus ID fits well with your desire to leave the definition to the individual.

    Biblical creationism, on the other hand, is all about theology. The three organizations you’ve cited don’t focus on ID; if they make use of it, they do so as a means of advancing their principal purpose, the spreading of Christianity. They’re not opposed to the ID movement (indeed, at the conference I attended, Duane Gish of ICR stood up to cheer on the ID researchers), but their final focus is on the Christian scriptures and the biblical creation story. I don’t know whether Reasons to Believe considers itself a “creationist” group, since it disagrees markedly with AIG and ICR on the age of the earth, the age of the universe, and the duration of their origins. Nonetheless, like the other two groups and unlike ID, it focuses on faith — faith in the biblical text.

    And that’s how you can tell the two movements apart: ID begins with the data; creationism begins with the text.

    If the data support the text, then so much the better, which is why these organizations use them and refer to ID. But for creationists, talking about Intelligent Design is only the means to an end, not the end itself. Their Designer has a name. The Designer(s) of the ID movement doesn’t.

    Well, so far the data haven’t suggested it yet.

  18. Michael says:

    Oh, in case anyone’s wondering where I stand in all this: I’m trying to be fair and generous to all sides (and if I’ve failed, please let me know!), and at one time I had hoped that the way I wrote would not tell anyone where I myself stood. It’s obvious, though, that I’m sympathetic with the ID side. I see it as the best position from which to discuss the issue of origins on scientific grounds, because it deals with the data and, like all good lab science, can (and should) stop when the data are no longer sufficient. The playing field is level.

    As it happens, however, I’m one of those six-day, young-earth creationists. (Surprise!) Which should tell you that (a) I’m not unaccustomed to looking foolish and (b) the previous post is a case of “it takes one to know not-one.” As such, then, I do start with the text. My training is in the text. Also, like the average evangelical creationist, I do have the ulterior motive of wanting to see as many people become disciples of Jesus Christ as possible.

    Does this cast doubt on my qualifications to discuss the issue? I don’t think so. Indeed, I try to approach my own field — theology, once known as “the queen of the sciences” — with the rigor and logic of a laboratory scientist. And honesty requires that both I and the lab scientists know the difference between data we do have and data we don’t, and clearly identify both sets. As for the quality of discussion … well, that’s what this comment section is for. Science involves — nay, requires — feedback.

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