EVOLUTION (11:704-486) – INTELLIGENT DESIGN
SMOUSE - SPRING 2011
– We have heard a lot lately about the confrontation between two major threads of
thought concerning “how it all got to be the way it is.” We’ve spent all semester talking about
one of those ideas, specifically the idea of
, what it is and what it is not. We have yet to
talk seriously about
, currently going under the label of
Basically, evolutionary biologists, geologists, cosmologists, and so on, take the view that
change is happening all the time, though often very slowly, and that while there is
predictability, “there is no larger purpose” to it all. In biological terms, organisms change
through time, because those that are best adapted to the current situation leave more progeny
and because the characters that yield that “adaptation” are (to some degree) heritable. What it
comes down to is that as the circumstances change, the organisms change as a consequence.
Not everyone buys that idea. Many people, even most people, take the view that it could not
be all that “pointless,” that there must be some grand “purpose to it all,” and that the process
is guided by some intelligence. That basic view is as old as human civilization. There are
rock paintings in Australia, dating back as far as 30,000 yrs BP, suggesting that people were
thinking about their ancestors and “how it got to be this way” (as they viewed it), even then.
Virtually all human civilizations have religious/spiritual components, typically involving one
or more deities/spirits. Judeo-Christian thought specifies the “creation” of this world and the
creatures that inhabit it. Other religions have analogues. I’m not an expert in comparative
religion, by any means, but there is consistency in how humans approach this issue.
In the last few years, here in the United States, the idea has been put forward that we and
other organisms were “designed” by an “intelligent creator” who knew what (s)he was doing.
There are those who take the view that evolution actually does occur, but that it is
“intelligently guided.” There are some who take the view that evolution is obviously
happening, but that “God made the rules,” and there are 1,000 different versions out there.
– I have heard it said that such ideas as ID represent the “crackpot views” of the
Religious Right (notice the loaded language), that evolutionism (ideological labeling) is sinister
and evil, and all sorts of other hostile “cross-talk.” What we have here is the difference in world
views by two orthodoxies, one established and one trying to become established in its place.
Any established orthodoxy will react to a challenge in this way. We could take the view that