The scientific community and much of the world is so wrapped up in the divisive debate over whether man evolved up from lower species or was created pretty much as he is right now, that we have overlooked a fairly large and obvious elephant in the room – How did life get started in the first place? Darwin didn’t have a clue, and neither does the scientific community today.
Nobody knows. All theories are just that – and they all defy us – mere, puny humans that we are – to find a way to test the viability of any of them. Every single one starts with a hypothesis, including the one that says God did it, and then tries to find evidence to support it.
Some members of the scientific community are extremely vocal in vilifying adherents of Intelligent Design. They angrily dismiss anyone who even intimates a desire to test its viability, sometimes referring to them as ‘ID-iots’. Well, count me in. From now on, I want to be counted among the ID-iots. I want to know why so many people are not talking about the possibility, remote as it may be to them, that much in the universe screams – SCREAMS – that it was designed.
And what about the universe itself? Carl Sagan virtually worshipped at the alar of the ‘cosmos’, assuring us that it has always been here and that it is all that will ever be. Yet the scientific community is more certain of the so called ‘big bang’ as the origin of the universe than they are of Darwinian evolution! In fact, almost as many believe in a personal God who answers prayer (39.6%) as don’t (45.5%), according to a survey done in 1996. That’s really interesting to me, especially since belief in a personal God is a belief system that is fundamentally incompatible with Darwinian evolution. Is it possible that we have some closet ID-iots out there?
To paraphrase Shakespeare, the problem is not in our stars. It is in us. It is our own stubborn adhesion to the worldview in which we have so much invested that we simply cannot face the pain of having it excised. Listen to this from biologist Richard Lewontin:
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment- a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanation, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Richard Dawkins has said that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. That’s a very telling statement, and taken with what Lewontin said above, we can start to see why there is such animus, such vitriol expressed whenever atheistically oriented scientists are confronted with Intelligent Design. They reject ID because they reject God. They say they reject God because the evidence says He is not real, but that simply isn’t true. The truth is the other way around.
But none of the bickering is useful. In the spirit of the tone set by our new President, I’d like to suggest that we try to find some common ground. Statements that are too simplistic to be useful and too exclusive to allow discussion are simply rabbit trails we end up running down, while the really important issues go begging.
Intelligent Design is no more true that evolution. That statement is simply not useful. What is useful is to recognize and acknowledge the differences in our fundamental beliefs and to respect one another’s perspective without condemnation. In that spirit, I offer these thoughts:
- Some proponents of ID are no more religious than a turnip. They simply question the all-inclusive orthodoxy of Darwinian evolution. Darwin, not being God himself, made mistakes.
- Most ID-iots want a seat at the table without being yelled at, marginalized or dismissed as believers in fairy tales.
- Atheists and scientists want to express their views and pursue their work without being preached at.
- Two possible definitions of ‘science’ are”
- The systematic recording of knowledge, or
- Knowledge encompassing naturalistic explanation for natural phenomena as obtained via the scientific method.
- The first is unfettered by boundaries that limit and inhibit – The second excludes all but the naturalistic
- It may be that this restriction has inhibited the progress of science in many ways, but
- Evolution is not a seamless and unified concept. and neither is ID. Therefore, if we stop yelling, maybe we can find parts of the one we reject that we don’t really reject after all.
That’s just a short list. There are many, many other things to discuss. I wonder if anybody out there wants to do that?