Intelligent Design

In the USA, with its large population of Bible believers, creationism never goes away. The creationists think that evolution is both wrong and evil, because it denies God and promotes materialism. Science, say creationists, should not ignore the supernatural. "Survival of the fittest" should not be used as an excuse to abuse disadvantaged people.

But the important issue for most creationists is that the idea of evolution goes against the Genesis story in the Bible. They see evolution as a challenge to the truth of the Bible, a challenge to their Christian religion. Creationists think studying evolution will causes people to lose their Christian faith, or prevent people from accepting Christianity. They want to expunge evolution from the schools.

Creationists in Texas are trying to get "equal treatment" in science textbooks. This is dangerous because the huge Texas market forces textbook publishers to pander to anti-evolution in their products.

I just saw yet another opinion letter calling out evolutionists for "blind belief". This one said

Those of us who believe in a supreme Creator, do so as a matter of faith. The non-creationists who believe in Charles Darwin's and his successors' concepts also do so as a matter of faith. Neither position can be positively proven by humans.

Actually, for a committed creationist, proof isn’t required at all. Creationists are completely justified by faith, and they project that attitude on everyone else. They claim that belief in evolution is just another kind of faith.

At the end of a recent creation-evolution TV debate, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis were both asked what would make them change their minds.

Nye: evidence.
Ham: nothing; I’m a Christian.

Evolution, the scientific theory, says that all forms of life came to be as a result of genetic variation and natural selection over time.

Creationism is the notion that life, while able to adapt to many environments, still has remained essentially the same ever since all today’s life forms were created by the God of the Bible in a single event. There were no major changes in life forms; no descendants of old extinct forms became new forms. There was no “evolution.” The creation-evolution conflict is over whether the process of natural selection can really generate the life we see, and more to the point, whether the process was "random" or somehow managed by God. Belief in "Godless evolution" is thought to disconnect people from God's law.

Anti-evolution/creationism would be harmless religious belief, to which we are all entitled by the Constitution, except that the creationists want public school classes, where the theory of evolution by variation and selection is taught as part of biological science, to also teach “creation science,” the Bible-based "alternative theory,” which is that all today’s life forms were created at one time by God. Of course, this is religion and the Constitution forbids establishing a religion.

Creationists today have gotten very clever at getting around the prohibition of religious establishment. These days, they are carrying on their effort like a political campaign, using public relations experts.

Intelligently Designed

I’ve been reading a great book about the activities of todays creationists: “Intelligently Designed” by Edward Caudill. It’s about “intelligent design,” which is the latest incarnation of “creation science.”

For audiences outside the fundamentalist Christian churches, today’s creationists have been avoiding mention of God or Genesis and have shoved under the rhetorical rug such notions as a 6000-year-old Earth and early humans living among dinosaurs.

In the late 1980s, the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based creationist think tank, worked up the notion of “intelligent design.”

It’s a clever idea. It says the evidence for creation comes from observing the world, just as scientists do. The idea is that the variety and complexity of life indicates that an intelligent being did the design.

God of the Bible as the identity of the designer is left unstated by creationists in order to keep creationism publicly packaged as science, not religion.

Creationists of the early 21st century have had great success using intelligent design to sell their story. They have managed to retain enough of the religious underpinnings of creationism to keep their Bible-believing base of supporters happy, while still presenting what kind of sounds like a scientific alternative.

Despite the repackaging, creationists still consistently lose in court when they try to mandate teaching creationism in public schools, but with intelligent design, they have been winning the public relations political battles. Creation-vs-Evolution has been recast as a political dispute, with issues of fairness and academic freedom.

Intelligent design is still not science; it’s still a statement of religious belief. But to the general public, it sounds far more like science than young-earth and six days fully-formed.

Few scientists agree with intelligent design, but the idea has opened up a wider audience for creationism among the general public. Creationism sounds less foolish and fundamentalist when it is presented as acceptance that life shows evidence of having been designed, by an intelligent creator.

Read "Intelligently Designed." It is a very well-written, even humorous, book and covers the intelligent design movement thoroughly. There's a lot of material about the history of the Scopes trial. Today's creation-evolution dispute started with Darrow and Bryan.

Evolution, the scientific theory, says that all forms of life came to be as a result of genetic variation and natural selection over time. There is scientific dispute about the sequence of forms and how long the process took. There is no “progression” to evolution; it’s a branching process with most branches dropping off. At one point there may have been as many as four different species of humans living together on Earth, one of which was the famous Neanderthal.

The creation-evolution conflict is over whether, without divine intervention, the process of natural selection can really generate the life we see; evolution is thought to reject God.

Evolution can’t be denied; the science is solid. But God is still in the picture.

Intelligent design can be used both to keep God and keep the natural process of variation and selection. Almighty God created life with the ability to alter itself -- that's pretty impressive design. God didn’t have to pop in with a miracle every so often; God created life, presumably set up so that the changes would happen, and life would keep on adjusting for changes in the environment.

God does not need to continually tweak and fine-tune. God is much more capable than creationists seem to think.

I think it's relatively easy to have faith in a God, so awesomely clever, having created evolution as part of Nature. I'd be uncomfortable with faith in a God that created all life forms in separate special acts, the way the story goes in Genesis.

There’s nothing about evolution in Genesis. Indeed, the Bible also says nothing about living cells, DNA, the germ theory of disease, nuclear energy or ionizing radiation. I don’t think Christianity needs to be held down by what was known at the time Genesis was written.

I propose that creationists take one more step beyond intelligent design, in order to become completely comfortable as people of strong Bible faith in a world where science continues to be so successful.

Anyone who reads the news has heard about antibiotic resistance. This is a frightening modern medical problem. As they reproduce again and again, some microbes have undergone genetic changes which gives them the ability to resist antibiotic drugs. Because these "super bugs" can't be killed by our drugs, this advantage is causing them to proliferate. It's a clear example of evolution in action. Here’s a Wikipedia article.

We know that people who breed animals use artificial selection. Modern cows, cats and dogs have become what they are as a result of this human intervention.

Some creationists today still go to the foolish extreme of claiming that evolution doesn’t happen at all, but the bottom line for all of them is that our human species came to be as the result of the direct intervention of God, not a "random" process. We humans are special, because we were created in the “image of God.” That term is from Christian theology, so it's not clear just what that term might mean biologically, but creationists are sure that Man did not descend from a monkey, let alone a microbe.

Creationists say it’s impossible, practically, for natural selection, unaided by divine design (God's Plan), to have produced the variety of today’s life forms, and most especially and specifically, our human life form.

But, when God does divine design, it’s just as natural as can be. Creationists coyly avoid specifically attributing the variety of life forms to divine miracles, but it sure looks like that’s what they mean by “God’s Plan.”

The opinion piece also said:

We base our belief on several factors. By far, the most important is that a man, born like every other human, turned out to be not like every other human. He claimed to be one with the Creator, supporting this claim by healing many with serious illness, and bringing those who had died back to life. He himself experienced resurrection from death to life, as he predicted. So the miraculous resurrection of Jesus tells us that God created all life as we see it. Maybe there has been some minor genetic variation over thousands of years, but for sure, the Human Kind has always been the same.

This has always sounded like useless doubletalk to me. The theory of evolution doesn’t deny Jesus. One does not become an atheist by accepting the reality of evolved antibiotic resistance.

A much better way to avoid colliding science with religion is to simply accept that God created evolution.

Yes, God brought life to be, by creating the mechanism of variation and selection. “God’s Plan,” then, set up the engineering for variation and selection so that it would lead to the variety of Earth's life forms, and ultimately to the appearance of us humans.

Faithful Christians don’t have to reject evolution. And they definitely don't need to go back to the literal Biblical “six days, fully formed.” They can be quite comfortable combining religious faith with scientific faith, having both belief and reality. The opinion piece went on to say.

When we ask, "Where did that first little creature and its environment come from?" all we get is the Big Bang. Is it possible that with all the high intelligence of the Darwinists, they cannot, or will not concede existence of intelligence far superior to their own?

I really don’t see any problem here. Evolution was certainly designed by an intelligence far superior ro my own.

Perhaps the writer's problem is that not enough scientists go to church.

A Useful Idea?

Intelligent Design is not science. It doesn't explain how anything happened. It doesn't predict anything. It's not even a theory.

It's a hunch, a "theory" only in the creationist-distorted sense of wild guess.

Intelligent Design is statement of religious conviction; it's really hard to call it a scientific theory.

So what good is it, beyond providing comfort to Bible believers?

If Intelligent Design really is a scientific theory, here's list of questions Intelligent Design could settle to advance scientific inquiry:

  1. Why wasn't intelligence and tool-making designed into other forms of life besides the primates?
  2. Why were humans designed as a kind of primate, rather than being based on an insect, say?
  3. Should at least one species of dinosaurs have been a large-brained, tool-using, thinking creature?
  4. Why did the Neanderthals die out? Bad design?
  5. Why do we have all the different human races? Wasn't there any single good design?
  6. Was man's capacity for warfare, domination, crime and cruelty part of intelligent design?
  7. Is being intelligent actually an intelligent design? Most other living creatures seem to do fine without it.
  8. Does Intelligent Design encourage us to expect to encounter other thinking beings elsewhere in the universe?
  9. Why was the universe designed to be so huge, and Earth such a tiny part of it?
  10. Why didn't life survive on Mars? Bad design?

The Bottom Line

Honestly, creationists, did God really design life without the ability to change over time? Would not evolution count as amazingly intelligent design?

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