Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Intelligent Design, I say

<w that I’ve got your attention let me say one thing very, very clearly. Intelligent design is not science. It should not be taught in schools. It is nothing more than an intriguing, personal, idea. I want to deal with it as such, not as the controversial culture/science war prevalent today.

For those not familiar, intelligent design is the idea that, because the universe, life, is so complex, surprisingly ordered, and infinite (apparently), it must have been created by something. As the fervently atheist zoologist Richard Dawkins said, “biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Science calls this “designer” evolution, but for many, this means the Christian God.

These people say that life is too beautiful and intricate and therefore the intelligent designer must have made it for us (strangely, no one seems to claim that life sucks and therefore the intelligent designer gave it to us— Satanic intelligent designer anyone?). To which I say, believe away, but evolution explains life far better and comes with proof. It makes more sense that we see our surroundings, life itself, as beautiful because we grew up around them, because we are alive (in the same way that we find other humans beautiful and not hairless monkeys).

They quote astronomer Fred Hoyle, who calculated the odds of DNA assembling by chance as 1040,000 to one, and argue that therefore DNA must have been designed. This is silly. DNA is a product of the laws of physics, which shaped such odds and provide a stable framework on which life can exist. But here it gets interesting. The question, “what caused DNA?” gets pushed back one level into, “what caused the laws of physics?” The answer as best I can tell is the universe, specifically the big bang that started everything. A ha.

I mean by all of these examples that the only intelligent design I find plausible and interesting is the most minimal intelligent design, the idea that something/being caused, intelligently or not (as I personally tend to believe; I guess my idea of intelligent design is more just “design”), the big bang/universe, with all of its laws, and let it loose to crash around. Aristotle (yes, him) had the idea of the unmoved mover—basically, motion exists; thing that move were set in motion by something else, on and on; therefore something, called the unmoved mover must have started the motion of everything.

Intelligent design as we know it, as the pawn of creationists and evangelical Christians trying to sneak their god into science, is uninteresting for what seem to me obvious reasons—I don’t believe in God. In fact, the modern resurgence of this term stems from one Charles Thaxton, creationist chemist, who upon hearing the phrase, thought, “That’s just what I need, it’s a good engineering term,” and with it promptly replaced all instances of “creation” and its derivatives in his “textbook” Of Pandas and People. To him and his fellow designers at the Discovery Institute, intelligent design is nothing more than a front for creationism, but it could be so much more.

To me, at least, intelligent design is the bridge between belief and science. It requires no idiotic dismissal of evolution and science in the name of faith. Their territories neighbor each other, but never cross. Our knowledge of the universe starts with the big bang. The natural question is, of course, what came before that singularity? Belief has been beyond the edge of human knowledge for as far back as we go. Right now, unless I’m extremely misinformed, the edge is the big bang. So until we, or if we ever, push back that edge, my answer is god, in whatever form (the Force, preferably, or an exploding infinite point of energy, or God) it comes in.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *