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Gimme That Old Time Science

(Published by Crunchables.Net, June 2006)


http://www.crunchable.net/articles/?p=323

I don’t understand why some people want to promote the idea of “intelligent design” in
place of Darwinian evolution. Considering how the world looks today, I would think
theists would want to distance God from having any hand in creation.

The thinking behind intelligent design goes something like this: not all of Darwin’s ideas
about natural selection are supported in nature, hence, there must be some other
explanation which fills in the gaps. But would a loving intelligent God really give us
mayflies? Mosquitoes? Fire ants? Paris Hilton?

At intelligent design’s foundation is a basic Aristotelian syllogism: if there is movement


then there must be some prime mover. If there is order in nature, then there must be One
who created that order. But that’s hardly a scientific hypothesis — it’s not provable, or
even measurable. It is not a theory so much as it is a solution in search of a question.
Sure, science can’t prove that it wasn’t God who had a hand in all this, but it can’t prove
that it wasn’t Tinkerbell either. Still, I don’t see anyone offering the “Tinkerbell Theory of
Evolution.” [Note from the eds: There is, however, the Flying Spaghetti Monster Theory.]

Any scientific theory based on a presumption that God even exists ends up as nothing
more than a “does too, does not” kind of debate. This is not science, which requires thesis
and experimentation and peer review. This is just the sixth grade playground all over
again.

Theologically, this kind of theory actually undermines faith. “Proving” the existence of
God through reason is not faith at all. It’s an arrogant assertion that we can find God all
on our own, rather than accepting the humbler notion that we find God through grace;
through art and meditation and other ways we use non-cognitive intelligences; even
through dumb-ass luck.

Art and music and even religion all try to describe interior truths — subjective ones, but
ones every bit as real as fossils in an archeological dig. The attempt to turn the intuitive
into something objective reflects a bias toward a rational view of the world, a perspective
that has held sway for far too long in this culture. This is the real agenda of people who
want to promote intelligent design in the schools: it’s a backlash against a scientific
community that for so long eschewed anything suggesting there could be any
unfathomable mysteries in our world.

Throughout the 20th century, science fed our belief that God was not needed to explain
things — that given enough time and the scientific method, all things could eventually be
known. This gave rise to the idea that God could be understood by the brute force of
human intellect, and that this intellectual pursuit could even be dressed up as science.
While science tries to reveal objective truth based on observable and demonstrable
evidence, religion’s truths are personal ones that need no verification. Intelligent design
confuses non-cognitive, intuitive knowledge with objective, measurable data. It would be
as if we only knew the color yellow by its spectrum wavelength of 575 nanometers. This
is measurable, objective and true, but reveals nothing about how yellow makes me feel,
the way it brightens my mood, how it reminds me of summer. Each truth describes a
different quality of what color is. We teach one in science class and the other in art class,
and no one seems to mind.

Maybe the most compelling argument against intelligent design is the supposed apex of
God’s creation: humans. At the start of the 21st century, we find ourselves creating a
warmer planet and melting the polar ice caps, poisoning the air and water to
unprecedented levels, straining resources beyond comprehension with a population now
exceeding 6 billion, all while burning ever dwindling fossil fuels. Meanwhile, there never
seems to be a war that we can say no to.

Some apex. It’s no wonder Kurt Vonnegut wrote that if God were to come down to earth
today He would be an atheist.

This is not to suggest that God had nothing to do with Creation. Maybe She did. It’s just
that it sure would be easier to believe in intelligent design if that Designer had done a
little better job on us.