Intelligent Design

Atheism, Deism, Naturalism, Panthesim, Theism, or what?………..

Although Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” was published in the century after the Constitution, with its emphasis on John Locke’s Natural Rights, its publication continues to ignite inspired debates on the nature of creation, not to mention the origin of the universe. Although this article differs from my polemics on the current administration and a few historical economists, I believe the Founding Fathers would have had much to say on this issue should they have been magically transported into modern times.

 

Creationism, evolution, or an alternative?

Running a searches on local and national newspapers and other media on captured countless hits for “religion”, “faith”, and “secular”, obviously a continuing theme. The Seattle Discovery issue addresses the Intelligent Design (ID) issue extensively.

Archived letters and articles I dug up in my search ranged from widespread condemnation of religious belief, to advocacy of biblically defined creationism.

Most ply one side of the ideological chasm between creationism and the secular majority view of evolution. Creationists believe in a strict biblical interpretation of Time’s opening act, while secularists insist on strict procedural study of biology and physics.

Pure biblical creationism doesn’t pretend to meet the modern definition of methodical inquiry- it’s deliberately based on faith. However, the secular scientific conventional wisdom on the creation of the universe and biological evolution also can fail to meet a logical test. ID is a third alternative.

Briefly, ID is defined as an intelligence-directed evolution acknowledging the march of life in its ever-increasing complexity and endless variegation. But ID also is a foundation for explaining how our universe came to support life in the first place, which in the final analysis cannot exist without intelligence outside of known space and time.

ID recognizes that the genetic code in our DNA is a repository of information; “information” being key, and the key concept being information always arises from intelligence. Given this understanding, Darwin himself employed the technique of figuring out what happened in the past by analyzing what’s happening now (DNA in its current evolutionary state), like reverse engineering: taking something apart to see how it’s built: similar to linear regression for you math minded types.

Evolution, increasing in complexity and information from the time the first molecule “built itself”, goes against the concept of natural decay, or entropy. The natural order of life is entropic, the opposite of a net gain in complexity, complexity being impossible without the addition of more energy. For example, a leaf on the sidewalk will not spring into ever more complex forms of life; on the contrary, during the process of entropy it gradually and naturally declines and its component chemicals dissipating into entropic energy. The evolution of coded information – the opposite of entropy – implies a beginning, or original source.

ID also advocates for an intelligently guided process prior to the universe’s creation- the big bang, also known as the singularity. (This being a tiny point of infinite density before known space and time, implying that a creative-intelligence existed prior.) There are several reasons why. The structure of our universe described by Einstein and others is infinitely curved and small; intelligent intervention is therefore necessarily required for matter to exist under these conditions. Additionally the anthropic principle, first introduced by physicist Fred Hoyle, means that fine-tuning of physics by an intelligent source is the only explanation for the perfect conditions that exist in our universe allowing life to develop.

These perfect conditions are byproduct of the perfect balance of several forces that govern the universe: gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism, and gravity. Gravity for example, is balanced exactly strong enough to allow matter to coalesce into stars, and exactly weak enough to keep stars from burning out before planets can coalesce. For the universe to be configured this way, against monumental odds, requires if not a belief in ID, then necessarily a belief in multiple parallel universes (part of what physicists call M-Theory). Only this explanation of multiple/infinite universes; other than our most unlikely fine-tuned cosmos, would allow for such an incredibly friendly habitable environment. Therefore denying both ID and parallel universes invites a difficult contradiction.

One physicist, Dr. Stephen Meyer, (associated with Seattle’s Discovery Institute and interviewed by David Bose), identifies several world/theological views, which address the possibility of an ultimate creator who kick-started the universe and guided evolution.

Materialism/Naturalism. This view states that matter and energy are the substances everything comes from. There is nothing beyond the physical world, the laws of nature are supreme, and there is no purpose for the universe. This worldview does not explain the increasing complexity of coded information like DNA, nor does it answer the question of the perfect balance of forces required for life.

Deism/Agnosticism. There is a God that created the universe and the conditions that allow for intelligent life, however this God is unknowable, and has long since “checked out”, and left us on our own. This worldview also doesn’t answer the above questions.

Theism. This is the religious worldview most in conformity with ID. There is a God- the ultimate intelligence that created our universe and the unique conditions allowing for life. God built in the capacity to pass down genetic information through millennia, and periodically intervenes as an agent of order and creation. Examples of the latter include the Cambrian and Marine Mesozoic explosions of life (information), which occurred in very narrow geological bands, negating the Darwinian view of gradual evolution through the natural trial and error of accidental chromosomal mutation. This worldview does although, fall short of a God that “personally” intervenes in our lives.

Even Dr. Michio Kaku, a world famous Theoretical Physicist, no fan of theological principle, postulates that the reason a subatomic particle exists simultaneously as a wave, and then as a particle when being observed, may be because its very existence depends on this observation, otherwise its component matter might just “blink out”. “You observe me, therefore I am.”

To paraphrase Dr. Meyer: “maybe the subconscious fear of the lay scientific community, is this: As they climb the steep mountain of scientific inquiry, while in search of the ultimate secular scientific answer to the birth of the universe and life, that they’ll finally reach the top and discover sitting and staring at them: a creator. Kind of makes you want to go hmmm.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Given that the onset of a bad back is normally later than the expected age of death of stone-age man (not to metion many causes being exacerbated by modern rather than pre-historic lifestyles), there would be no selection pressure on their eveloving to a stronger state that would outweigh the opposite selection pressures acting on it.
    I didn’t say ID hasn’t been proved, I said there is no evidence for it, all evoloutionary biology points to natural selection.
    Darwin stopped going to church because of his scientific belief, this may not make him an atheist but he clearly didn’t believe in ID either.
    The idea that “we don’t know so god must’ve done it” is essentially what ID boils down to but each scientific breakthrough we make fills in that much more space that was occupied by god. The problem we now face in science is that for almost the first time in since the renaissance our theoretical science far outstrips our engineering ability to test those theories, just saying “we haven’t got a powerful enough machine so lets just say it could be god” doesn’t cut it with me.
    Thanks for the spelling lesson.

  2. I appreciate your comments, but I dislike participating from a baseline discussion modeled on anecdotal censure. So I’ll attempt to reconstruct the debate.

    Lots of things haven’t been proved. Matter before the big bang, (Other than a completely unproven quantum foam postulate.) Secular biological evolution. Random (vs. guided) DNA teleromase separation which defies all odds at initiating accidental evolutionary advancement. And more.

    Yes, I agree, our bodies are poorly designed (Why not two backbones?), but wouldn’t that be an argument against Darwin’s Origin of the Species? May the strongest survive? Not in the case of my bad back.

    No ID advocates claim an interventionist God during e.g. the Cambrian explosion, decided to intervene to create the perfect species, therefore necessitating no other necessary biological advancements/interventions in ongoing guided evolution. Intelligent random intervention is the ID postulate. (So maybe my back will be improved in a couple hundred years after the next DNA/informational ID guided explosion?)

    Remember too, that ID doesn’t just address biological “informational” species advancement, it also deals with the physics of the creation of our universe. Unless you want to believe in multiple infinite parallel universes (11 dimensional string/M theory possibly?), then you must believe in the mathematical impossibility of our perfectly balanced four forces of nature occurring by pure chance in a single universe, ipso facto allowing for the perfect conditions necessary for the creation of life. (Perfect balance of gravity etc.)

    Either postulate in the above paragraph is acceptable, but can you really have it both ways?

    I don’t claim that wave/particle duality is wrong; and I do understand it. I quote Michio Kaku’s book claiming that this duality is possibly the only way observation allows reality/existence. The particle function exists to accommodate observation as a wave is much harder to observe. A self built in standard of existence: “I am observed, therefore I am.”

    And to add: Michio Kaku is no theist. He’s pretty much a strict atheist.

    And to counter: no evidence has been found to support “The Origin of Species” either, if you take into account unexplainable biological gaps, and a strictly non-linear evolutionary cycle of advancement in complexity and information explosions. (Darwin was not an atheist.)

    This is the argument for DNA as a simple repository of information, the support for guided evolution. (Please don’t mistake me for a pure biblical creationist.)

    I look forward to a continuing discussion. Thank you Rowan Phillips for your comments.

    (BTY, “You seriuosly need” is spelled ” You seriously need”).


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