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"Not So Intelligent Design"

The lady being interviewed on TV asserted that she believed that the universe was made in six days, 4000 years ago. She committed a serious error! The marginal notes she claimed to be believing state that Creation occurred at 1000 a.m. one day in October in the year 4004 B.C. Her assertion appears to be a deliberate refusal to look at this world as it is. It is also a refusal to investigate, to experiment, to think or to allow anyone else to do those things.

She's not the only one. A book is for sale, and selling well, in the Park Service Visitors' Center at the Grand Canyon, which states that the geologists are wrong, that God made the Grand Canyon on the 6th day, not in hundreds of millions of years.

Besides that, there is alarming agitation all over the country to force local school boards to allow, or insist, that "intelligent design" be taught to high school science students as an alternative "theory" to evolution. This is mythology masquerading as science, and involves a gross misunderstanding of the way science has been using the word "theory" for centuries. The myth people think that "theory" means some notion not yet proved. They use "theory" as if it meant "hypothesis." Science uses "theory" to mean a framework which accounts for the huge mass of data known about a topic. Atomic theory explains atomic and molecular structure, all the known facts about electrons, protons, neutrons, atomic weight and all that. No one thinks that atomic theory is unproved or susceptible to refutation by alternative theories.

The theory of evolution likewise is not unproved. A recent issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE asked on the cover, "Was Darwin Wrong?" Inside, in huge letters, the editors state, "NO!" -- and add, "The evidence for evolution is overwhelming." Then follows a thirty-page article, giving salient parts of the evidence.

"Intelligent design" is really trying to substitute a Creator God for the "theory of evolution." Its proponents, like the lady on TV, are preferring submission to irrational authority over ongoing investigation of facts and evidence. And instead of the irrational authority being a Pope or Emperor, who could supposedly force submission and obedience, in this case the authority is a book. The book has been declared inerrant, infallible, literally correct in all details, with no mythological or metaphorical interpretations allowed. The 4004 B.C. date isn't even part of the text of the book, but a marginal note added by Archbishop Usher centuries ago. He arrived at his marvelous number by working backward through the king-lists and the "begats," rather than through cataloging of fossils and techniques like Carbon-14 dating.

There are a couple of recent developments which help this writer refute "intelligent design." One is the evidence of ongoing evolution, happening while we watch in hospitals and animal feed-lots. Viruses and bacteria are mutating so fast that strains develop quickly which are resistant to the over-used antibiotics. Innocent people are dying because of this. If this isn't evolution, but rather God's intelligent design, which is bringing these lethal strains of viruses into being, what kind of a God is that? But we don't need to posit an immoral God; the evidence fits perfectly well into the "theory" of evolution.

My other experience of the inadequacy of intelligent design is more personal. I have had my own encounter with what I call "the design flaw." I refer to how the prostate gland ages in human males. Almost all males, who haven't died already of something else, encounter, sooner or later, serious problems with the prostate gland, from enlargement which hinders urination, to cancer which may be treatable or may be fatal. The design didn't account for the effects of aging, and "intelligent" isn't quite the right word.

The theory of evolution can accommodate the new phenomenon of an aging male human population. Aging males appear to be expendable in the ongoing process of life. I can handle that notion better by believing the thing is random, rather than thinking that I'm the victim of some kind of deliberate action of a "God."

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Copyright © 2005 Harry Willson

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