The Science Community's Myopia Over Intelligent Design
Far from being incompatible with intelligent design, evolutionary biology makes no sense except in light of ID.
By attacking intelligent design theory [thetheory
that a designer may guide evolution],the scientific establishment continues to insulate evolutionary biology from critique and discussion. The challenge of intelligent design for evolutionary biology is real. This is not like someone who claims that ancient technologies could not have built the pyramids, so goblins must have done it. We can show how, with the technological resources at hand, the ancient Egyptians could have produced the pyramids.
By contrast, the material mechanisms known to date offer no such insight into biological complexity. Cell biologist Franklin Harold, in his most recent book, The Way of the Cell, remarks that in trying to account for biological complexity, biologists have thus far proposed merely "a variety of wishful speculations." If biologists really understood the emergence of biological complexity in material terms, intelligent design couldn't even get off the ground. The fact that they don't accounts for intelligent design's quick rise in public consciousness. Give us detailed, testable, mechanistic accounts for the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, the origin of ubiquitous biomacromolecules and assemblages like the ribosome, and the origin of molecular machines like the bacterial flagellum, and intelligent design will die a quick and painless death.
But that hasn't happened and shows no signs of happening. Nor has the "refutation" of intelligent design by scientists and scholars been nearly as successful as attacks--such as last year's "no intelligent design in schools"resolution
by the American Association for the Advancement of Science--suggest.
The discussion is ongoing and vigorous. A design-theoretic research program is now taking shape (see my articleBecoming a Disciplined Science
[PDF]). Moreover, the claim that no evidence supports intelligent design is false - plenty of evidence supports it provided that evidence is not ruled inadmissible ona priori
grounds (much as Kepler's elliptical orbits were ruled inadmissible because science "knew in advance" that the orbits had to be circular).
The worst fault of the AAAS resolution is its historical myopia and the ill-effects that portends for biology education. From the start, evolutionary biology has invoked intelligent design as a foil. We don't need to explain the structure of a random chunk of rock. We do need to explain the organized complexity of biological structures like the bacterial flagellum. Why? Because they bear the hallmarks of design. (Why else would cell biologists call them "molecular machines"?). Engineering terminology is not optional here. Evolutionary biology itself makes no sense except in light of intelligent design.