The Poetry of Richard Sansom - Published by The British Sansom Society - Religion – What is it? - Athenaeum Library of Philosophy
The Poetry and Writings
of Richard Sansom

Published by The British Sansom Society

Darwinian Evolution
“Intelligent Design”

Darwinian Evolution versus “Intelligent Design”

I must say my bit about this currently debated subject – one I thought had receded into the mists of our legal and cultural history, but has resurfaced amid the far-right Christian movement.

Proponents of Intelligent Design (ID),(a clear euphemism for Creationism) claim that it should be taught along side Darwinian evolution theories as a viable explanation of the origins of organic life on our planet. They propose to teach this ID in biology classes, as a part of science. Their reasoning is that Darwinian theories are just that, theories, that have yet to be proven, and that ID, likewise a theory, is a reasonable counter explanation that deserves an equal platform for study and consideration.

In a nutshell, ID claims that complex organisms and organs, such as the human eye,(reminiscent of Wallace’s question to Darwin) are far too complex to have evolved by randomly occurring mutations that give survival characteristics to progeny, thus creating more and more complexity through purely random genetic variations. The counter is that complexity could not have come about through these purely random mutations, and that a “designer” must have been at the helm. Were it not for the fact that they want this taught in science classes, as opposed to religious ones (not available in public schools), I would have no objection; private, religious schools can, unfortunately, teach what they want and are not guided or regulated by any federal controls and standards.

Three questions come to mind here: 1) What is the driving motive behind ID, and 2) Can it be approached using the scientific method. 3) What is “complexity? Also, a fourth question looms, no doubt in the minds of the ID people: Is the so-called scientific method any guarantee for finding the best answer to these kinds, or any kinds of questions?

First, what is the motive behind ID?
All human endeavors are guided by belief and knowledge, the former usually holding sway, since even the principles of acquiring or establishing knowledge depend on some kind of belief system. (One must believe and accept the axioms of mathematics if one is to accept the knowledge that follows from its practice!) It must be the case that those who challenge Darwin either believe, for some reason, that it is simply wrong, or have knowledge that it is wrong. Either they can show, by proof, that it is wrong, or they must admit that it is purely their belief that it is wrong, and that there is an equally plausible explanation at hand for the appearance and development of life. They would no doubt claim that since Darwinian evolution (only a theory) cannot be proven, they should not be required to prove it is wrong. But there is more here than playing with proofs and disproofs. There is belief in the possibility of intentional design By re-naming their concept “ID”, as opposed to “creationism” they attempt to distance themselves from the religious overtones that attach to that label. They do not even call the design one of God’s, but rather simply “design” that is apparent from the complexity of organisms and organs. If asked: Who did the design? They would no doubt reply: We don’t know, but it is surely something or someone. (If they had an ounce of intellectual honesty they would admit to their religious agenda.)

Can ID be approached using the scientific method?
The scientific method is generally taken to include: observation, hypotheses, experimentation, theory, and repeat, etc. If they accept the scientific method, the ID folks must observe the same things that anthropologists, geologists and paleontologist do, things like fossils, tectonic movements, the structure of DNA, radioactive dating and the human genome, etc., and draw conclusions from that information. They must show that their hypothosis emerges from those observations If they do not do this, they are admitting that their concept is not based on scientific principles. If they deny the scientific method in this case there is little reason for them to insist on the teaching of ID being taught as a part of science.

What is complexity?
Their claim that the high degree of complexity of life (one of them pointed out the incredible complexity and complex functionality of the cell) is sufficient for doubting that it arose from mere random mutations and natural selection. But then they must explain what “complexity” is. Complexity, IMO, is not only an invention of the human mind (and doesn’t exist – eh Jud?) it is relative and strictly in the eye of the beholder and does not signal superiority in any way. (Goldfish have 43 chromosomes; humans have 26; which chromosomal system is more complex?) The weather system of the planet is a highly “complex” non-linear system of trillions of parameters that is hardly analyzable, even by the most sophisticated computer systems. Is it being “designed” each nano-second by some intelligence? IMO complexity is not only no measure of intentional design, it is a conceptual fabrication, an artifice, that is used to describe a process that usually has many working parts and is quite difficult to “reverse engineer.” What many might consider as simple, (a child’s spinning top, for example) is in fact quite complicated if described by differential equations. The simple appearing solar system is indeed impossible to describe mathematically as a closed system, and there are only a few “working parts.”

Clearly, the ID community is using only belief, from top to bottom, with not a smidgen of evidence, either to disprove Darwin, or to prove their concept is a valid counter to Darwin. Why are they so hell-bent on this mission? “God” or the great designer only knows….