Thursday, August 25, 2005

What's Intelligence Got To Do With It?

From an ongoing email discussion with a friend about the merits (or lack thereof) of Intelligent Design...

I'm actually surprised at the fervor with which the Intelligent Design folks are approaching the issue. I suppose it's an attempt to overturn a past ruling from the failed "Creationism" movement, but in the end, it seems like a lot of time and energy is being wasted on something that doesn't necessarily need it.

In addition, the fervor isn't backed by much meat. Pointing to gaps in understanding and claiming they can only be explained by Divine Intervention of some sort seems rather short sighted. It wasn't that long ago that we didn't understand the genetic code, and things like heredity were hard to explain, let alone cloning. Today, we know a lot more. Not everything, of course, but a lot more. If people had made similar claims with respect to genetics back then, they'd be looking pretty silly today.

One thing the Intelligent Design people have conceded is the age of the earth as indicated by the geologic record, as opposed to as calculated using the lineage described in the bible. As such, they are admitting that certain "evolutionary processes" have occurred through time. If the proponents of Creationism had had their way a few years ago, the curriculum in many American schools would look a little "unscientific", if not downright foolish.

Still, I don't know that the whole issue needs the political spotlight. Evolutionists don't claim to know the whole story, and fully admit that there are large gaps. It is the role of scientists to continue to study and try to unlock the mysteries. I don't see where people with a belief in a higher being should feel threatened by that.

None of this precludes any group, religious or otherwise, from having beliefs about the origin or sanctity of man. Many scientists involved with the study of evolution are in fact Christians, and don't see it as a conflict with their beliefs. They're studying how the body works, or how it developed, not questioning the presence of man's soul.

It is the right of Christians to believe that man is the divine creation of a higher being. It seems odd that they would insist on seeing science as an enemy to this belief. True, some scientists are humanists, and see man as simply another animal. But, isn't that their right?

The Intelligent Design proponents are using political clout and lobbying to advance their position, and quite possibly force it into classrooms. I hope they've done their homework.


Brock said...

I think the principal issue with ID is the absence of orignal, prevailing logic and unifying theory. Its proponents state that there are 'irreducibly complex organisms' that Darwinism, and ergo all other scientific theories, cannot explain. And somehow, this lack of an explanation translates into the undermining of scientific thought. As such, rather than actually proposing an alternative theory ID proponents are pointing out gaps in an existing body of knowledge.

So, while I do believe that education is enhanced by differing views and theories, I also believe that these theories need to be justified. Stating that God exists because science cannot explain everything is a poor argument. Negative proofs are great for creating dialogue and spurring thought; however, I do not believe they should be taught as stand-alone theory.

There is also the issue of the ID authors' understanding of Darwinism and science in general. The main two individuals are a lawyer and mathematician. Rather than proposing an original piece of work they are synthesizing information from various sources, quality unknown. This does not appear to be a desirable method for advancing knowledge in the classroom.