The Boston Globe - Intelligent design's doubt: Is evolution the full story?
To the Editor:
In Sunday’s article “Intelligent design’s doubt: Is evolution the full story?” the writer states that “even if it were accepted that evolution had been assisted by some designer, intelligent design cannot say who or what the designer is.” This statement is misleading on its face and is used by intelligent design advocates to attempt to get around the barriers traditional creation stories have had. It is true that it does not say whether the designer is God, Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, or Queztalcoatl, and so does not endorse any specific religion. It may not say who, exactly, the designer is; but when you carry intelligent design out to its logical conclusion, it does declare that some supernatural intelligence exists. One might argue that maybe the designers were aliens; but then how did the aliens become complex enough to have intelligence and manipulate our evolution? No, the only possible designer is some form of God.
Intelligent design basically says using mathematics what creationists have always been saying; specifically, that everything works too perfectly and is too complex to have not been designed. However, there is much evidence that things don’t work all that perfectly; they just work, period. And if things were so perfectly designed, there shouldn’t be any evidence, at all, that the components of these ‘perfect’ mechanisms had any other function in the past. If all life is so perfectly designed, why are we humans imperfect in so many ways?
We must remember that even the simplest bacterium we study today has been evolving for around 3.5 billion years. When animal-like cells developed from bacteria, bacteria had already been around and evolved for 1 billion years. When multicellular organisms first appeared, the animal-like cells had around 1.5 billion years to evolve and diversify prior. In contrast, human civilization has only been around for the last 30,000 years, 0.0008% of the total time life has existed. Science has only been around for maybe the last 300 years, 0.000008% of the total time life has existed. Given the very fast reproductive cycle of single-cell organisms, it’s entirely possible that seemingly irreducibly complex structures could have developed in those inconceivably long periods of time.
At worst, intelligent design would halt research into other ideas of the origins of life; as intelligent design, like all creationist theories, is not falsifiable. At best, intelligent design would have science taught and researched as normal, with the caveat that some kind of God exists. At worst, it interferes with science. At best, it inserts religion into science classes. When it comes down to it, intelligent design is no better or worse than other creationist theories and, like them, it has no valid place in our research labs or our science curriculum.