River Wissey Lovell Fuller

The Village Soapbox

September 2005

Ron has a critical look at Intelligent Design


Intelligent Design

From early times people have marvelled at the world, the variety of life forms and their own existence. It all defied explanation and their not unnatural reaction was to imagine that it was the work of some supernatural being which they held in awe and worshipped, often going in fear of provoking the wrath of this being. Initially the tendency was to worship idols as symbols of that being, or the sun or, if there was one handy, a volcano. As people became more sophisticated so did their gods and the many and varied religions that we have today evolved. Charles Darwin put a bit of a spanner in the works with his theory of evolution which undermined much of the teaching of those religions at that time.

Through the centuries scientific study has shown many religious beliefs to be just hocus pocus. Wooden idols, the sun and volcanoes were all ditched as potential gods. Christian teachings have been overturned, the age of the Earth has been shown to be very much older than Christians once believed. Copernicus was discredited and later Galileo was imprisoned for challenging the then current Christian teaching that the sun rotated around Earth, others have been tortured and executed for daring to disagree with unsubstantiated and subsequently proven wrong teachings of the Church. Similar intolerance is evident in some religions in the world today where religious laws take away basic human rights.

It is true, however, that Darwinian explanations are not enough and, despite scientific study, much remains unexplained. In fact the more science understands about life it seems the more incredible it becomes. This recognition of the shortfall in scientific explanation led to a resurgence amongst the faithful, in the USA in particular, of the Christian concept of the Creation and 'Creationism' became a strong school of thought, even finding its way into the curricula of some US schools. The scientific community reacted strongly and rubbished such a concept. This in turn led to the argument that said 'OK perhaps the concept of the Creation maybe too unacceptable but surely what we see is indication of intelligent design' and so 'Intelligent Design' is the new school of thought amongst the faithful that is being argued should be taught in schools. The problem for the rest of us is that intelligent design implies the existence at some time, if not now, of some supreme being and it is, once again, an example of people seeking to explain that which they cannot understand by invoking the supernatural.

The achievements of 'science', that is the application of reason and logic to the results of observations and experiment are manifest and too numerous to mention, they impact on every aspect of our daily lives and have brought many benefits. On the other hand, religious beliefs, which have often hindered understanding, along with conflicts between beliefs, have generated no end of suffering, many people are enslaved by religion and currently some of these beliefs are a curse on our society. In my view we have to accept that there is much that we do not understand, we have to continue to strive to understand by the application of science, reason and logic rather than by looking to magic or supernatural beings to give that explanation.

Ron Watts

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