Intelligent Design: Bad Science, Bad for Religion

There is nothing in religion that demands the invocation of miracles to explain the wonderful world around us.

Scientific creationism is as dead as the dodo. Even ardent American evangelical Christians are starting to realize that there really is no good scientific evidence to take the early chapters of Genesis absolutely literally. God's creative efforts took more than six days, and Noah's flood did not cover the whole earth.



Unfortunately, "creationism lite," better known as intelligent design [the

theory

that a supernatural designer guides evolution], continues to thrive like a virulent social disease. Its supporters push it with enthusiasm and skill, and by appealing to ignorance and to the American sense of fair play - "If they can have their views expounded in schools, why shouldn't we have ours?" - it is an ongoing threat to biology education in state-supported schools. Therefore, I welcome the sound endorsement of evolution and criticism of intelligent design, and I am quite unmoved by the mishmash of half reasons given in defense of intelligent design by William Dembski.

I have said it before. I will say it again. The fact of evolution is as well established as the heliocentric theory of the solar system. The evidence - fossils, homology, biogeography, systematics and much more - is overwhelming.

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As the great evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky used to say: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." The theory of evolution is still much debated, but no one denies that natural selection is a very important mechanism, explaining at the physical level the eye and the hand and at the micro level the various essential processes and parts of the body, including those highlighted by the intelligent-design enthusiasts.

Nothing - absolutely nothing - the ID people have said in any way challenges this fact. The biochemist Michael Behe trots out blood clotting and more, despite the fact that the experts in the field protest that he has the science wrong (and much out of date). Behe refuses to answer questions posed by critics like Ken Miller who point to the difficulties in his position, such as when and where did complex organisms get created and why (if in the present) do we have no observational evidence and why (if in the past) they did not degenerate if they existed (as they must have done) before they were used? Dembski, a mathematician and philosopher, appeals to mathematical theorems, such as the "No Free Lunch" theorem, which tells us that to get real design out we must put real design in. Why does he not address the relevant issue, namely that evolutionists claim that, thanks to selection, we can get apparent design out? What relevance does any of his mathematics have to this altogether different claim?

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Michael Ruse
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