Monday, August 15, 2005

Unintelligent Design?

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I've been reading bits and pieces online recently about "Intelligent Design," predominantly from those who consider it to be a ridiculous concept. To qualify this post I am an Atheist. That doesn't mean that I dismiss the existence of a higher power, or God, it simply means that I disbelieve the Theistic concept of that higher power, which is specifically described. In spite of this, in my opinion, the argument of Intelligent Design isn't quite as unintelligent as many people, who I normally respect and agree with, have been implying. In fact, I find the level of ridicule ironic when most of us, at some point in our lives, entertain very similar mental processes considering our own experiences and spirituality.

My understanding of Intelligent Design is this: The depth and complexity of life on earth, and the manner in which nature and life thrives and progresses indicates the presence of a beginning and a cause, and consequently a design.

Evolution, on the other hand, explains the way in which nature and life has conspired to flourish as the very founding basis upon which the natural phenomena we our surrounded by survives and endures. The reason, Darwin states, that everything around us works so effectively, is that when it doesn't function effectively it eventually ceases to exist. For example, when a particular species can no longer survive in its environment. The synergized natural progress we witness before our eyes, the basis upon which Intelligent Design concludes a higher power must exist, is, according to Evolution, simply the basic pre-requisite for manifest longevity. It's no coincidence that things seem to work well.

It's interesting to note that neither proposition is mutually exclusive.

The reason why I don't meet Intelligent Design with that much animosity is because all of us have experienced moments in our life when we've entertained a very similar thought process, no matter our belief in God, nor opposition to teaching Creationism, or Intelligent Design in the classroom. Have you ever considered positive or negative events in your life... or your aspirations for the future in terms of fate or destiny? Have you ever met someone through tenuous circumstances and determined that only fate could have brought the two of you together? Have you ever lost a loved one and thought it was his/her time to leave this earth, pre-ordained by a higher power? Have you ever reflected upon your experiences and felt that you were part of something larger, and spiritual beneath the surface?

These aren't preposterous notions, and yet they follow exactly the same rational course as the deductive reasoning that concludes the synergy and balance of the universe is indicative of the existence of God. Haven't we all contemplated the possibility of an Intelligent Design to our own lives?

Personally, I disagree. While people who believe in Intelligent Design look up at the vastness of the heavens, star systems, and galaxies, and conclude that God must exist... I conclude that the capacity of the human mind is so relatively small... we are but tiny blips in the life of this vast cosmos. Intelligent Design's most fundamental leap of logic is to assume there must have been a beginning, but, who are we to presume that our human understanding of linearity and time itself is not a localized manifestation? Maybe existence beyond the edges of what we know functions in ways that we could never begin to grasp? Analyzing the vastness of the Universe with our isolated frame of reference is an inherently flawed activity.

And yet, I don't see where anybody possesses the right to ridicule those who decide that Intelligent Design is what they believe. Spirituality is increasingly an individual pursuit... it is a voyage we take ourselves contemplating our own existence and relationship, or lack of one with God... and above, in a small way, I've charted my own. I don't understand what harm is done exposing young minds to the breadth of different interpretations to our existence on this planet. Isn't the idea to nurture their voyage, and endow them with the responsibility of reaching their own conclusions, with the widest possible array of different perspectives, while never seeking to make up their minds for them?

Like I said, I just don't understand the hostility.

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