Monday, July 27, 2009

Intelligent Design

I think creationists started realizing the whole magical appearance of Adam and Eve was a tough story for modern people to swallow, so they came up with this idea of "intelligent design" to counter evolution theory. Nice try.

They should just be honest and say they don't believe in any science at all because science demands rational causality and since everything magically comes from God, anything God wants to happen anytime, anywhere, can magically happen. So why even bother with science?

Of course, most religious people don't go that far. Most are perfectly comfortable using science to do something like design a bridge. They don't leave it to faith that the Lord will allow it to support the weight of traffic without employing science to design a stable structure. (At least I hope so.) But it's curious to me how people draw that line. "I trust science for pasteurizing my milk, but for telling me I share ancestors with apes, no way!" What's the criteria?


Red Pill Junkie said...

As with Evolution, there are many flavors of Intelligent Design. There are those closer to what you refer to on the clip —the ones who think The Flintstones was an actual documentary— but there are also those who merely find incredible to believe that a single-celled organism could have developed by mere random chemical events.

I honestly don't know where I stand. I certainly believe Creationism belongs to the outhouse, but there's all sort of tantalizing in-betweens to the basic "primordial soup" that Sagan used to explain on his show Cosmos. There's Panspermia for example: the idea that the first nucleotid acids or even microbial organisms came here from somewhere else —from Mars in a chunk of a meteorite, from the core of a comet, or maybe even from the sole of a clumsy alien explorer's boot, something that even Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA, came to consider.

The problem is that the idea gets entrenched because of the religious aspect. Although, to be honest, that's a problem you only see in your country (maybe the UK too). The rest of the world doesn't really fret too much about it.

Me? I can accommodate the idea of a supreme being so smart that He/She/Them can use the basic laws of Nature to let matter and energy self-assemble into life and consciousness. Was our five-fingered hands part of God's original plan, or was God just fooling around to see what came out of His/Her/Their little experiment? That's something I don't know.

One thing I do suspect though: This Universe is nothing but a big test to let only the truly intelligent beings survive.

Jeremy said...

Dave, there are a lot of problems with evolution. As Red Pill Junkie pointed out, where did the first single celled organism come from? People are willing to consider an alien visitor but not God? Even single celled organisms are more complex then machines we make today and you are telling me they formed by accident? Matter does not have the capacity to come up with information on it's own. Something as complex as DNA could not have just formed randomly. Not only that, but the code system to interpret the DNA had to be there as well. You see, evolution requires belief in magic as well. The only problem is they cannot point to who performed this magic.

The Bible makes it very clear that God made the world and the original created humans and animals in 6 days. Why would a loving God create a single celled organism and sit there and watch it suffer and fight and die over and over again for untold millenia? It's a wasteful cruel process and it is not logical.

I believe very much in science. The problem is that when you say 'science' you really mean evolutionary dogma. Science means knowledge. Science has a long way to go to prove that one animal can turn into another completely different animal while defying many natural laws and ignoring how DNA works.

Anonymous said...

Interesting points, RPJ, except your last sentence is wrong. If you've ever been to a Walmart, you know that Idiocracy is a documentary.

Dave Stratton said...

I'm not a scientist, and I'm certainly not an expert on evolution, but here are a few thoughts that won't change anyone's mind.

Sure DNA is complex, but it's one of millions of different kinds of molecules. Given billions of years, it's not inconceivable that some of those molecules that get formed are very complex -- like DNA.

And keep in mind molecules are not formed by "chance" -- they form according to the rules of physics and chemistry. Why is a salt crystal a neat little cube? Because someone designed it that way? No, because that's how its molecules fit together.

The idea that "chance" drives evolution is a big misconception. Evolution is how species change over time due to outside influences subject to the rules of chemistry and physics. You can see evolution occurring in our lifetime. A small percentage of a type of germ treated with an antibiotic are resistant to the drug. Those are the ones that live to reproduce, and in a short period of time that antibiotic doesn't work against that strain anymore. That's not chance -- that's cause and effect. Multiply changes like that by hundreds of millions of years, and there you are.

Early forms of single cell life may not be that complex -- I think many scientists believe that life will form almost inevitably under the right conditions and, at least in single cell form, is common throughout the universe -- with no alien transmission required.

There are many people who see the physical rules that drive evolution as an expression of the power of God, the alpha to the omega kind of God vs. the supernatural being with a human-like intelligence. While I am in awe of the creative force of the universe, I'm reluctant to say I "believe in God" because most people would assume I'm talking about that supernatural being (that I don't believe in). That's why I think religion only really has value if it helps a person live in harmony with what the universe (God?) throws his way, rather than having a friend in the sky who can intervene in the outcome of a football game.

Of course, what I think doesn't mean squat to what you choose to believe. We're all free to think what we like, thank God.

Red Pill Junkie said...

While I think that the ID proponents' goal of being given equal time to their theory at the science classes is ill-conceived, I think there's nothing wrong with discussing ideas about the origin and the possible purpose of the Universe in debate and philosophy classes. Anyway, even Carl Sagan loathed the idea of prohibiting stupid theories to be divulged, because that is counter to the way Science advances; 200 years ago the idea that microbes were responsible for diseases was ridiculous, and even less than 20 years ago the idea that viruses could be the cause of Cancer or the existence of prions as the cause for mad-cow disease was ludicrous.

One thing is certain, and I write this with humility as an outsider: this debate (and other like it) is blocking you from re-gaining a leading position in Science. America used to be leader in all forms of Scientific disciplines; now France is the leader in nuclear energy, CERN is the best laboratory to study advanced particle physics in the world, the UK and Malaysia are becoming the leaders of biotechnology, and it's quite possible that China could reach the Moon before the US goes back later this century.

You need to get your act together, pronto!

Dave Stratton said...

Hey, watch your mouth RPJ! Haven't you heard of American Exceptionalism?


Jeremy said...

Dave, what you are describing with antibiotic resistence is not evolution, it is natural selection. The bacteria are actually losing the genetic information to process the enzyme that is the antibiotic. There is no new information being added to their allele structure and no changes to their bodies. Evolution is the adding of new information to the genome of a creature, i.e. Legs, feathers, hair. This has NEVER been observed in nature. The same thing is true of a single celled organism forming from matter, either by itself or in laboratory experiments. Even Richard Dawkins will admit that there is no known process where matter can produce information.