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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Gina said...

I'm with you. Being the pagan I am, I have no problem with Intelligent Design (not creationism) and being the chemist I can see how Intelligent Design fits right in with evolution.
The hostility comes from "fundies" making Intelligent Design all about the bible.

I don't see why we can't say:
there seems to be an intelligent "order" from some high consciousness.

Graham said...

I like the word "fundies," lol.

I'm not a subscriber to the intelligent design theory, but I do think that it is consistent with the theory of evolution. One doesn't negate the possibility of the other.

Fence said...

I think a lot of the opposition to proponents of Intelligent Design is that many of them take it to extremes.

Personally, I just don't know, and am so unknowing that I won't comment :)

Graham said...

Hey Fence,

I'm certainly not a fan of the religious right. Also, you should never let "unknowing" get in the way of expressing an opinion me thinks. It certainly never stops me :).

Jumpin' on the Bandwagon said...

This is the problem with Intelligent Design. Neither Graham's nor Gina's views on this matter are acceptable to the people 'pushing' this concept.

To the proponents of teaching this concept in school as science, it is 'christian' design which is acceptable, no other.

So, is that right? Do you think that repackaging biblical creationism as intelligent design and calling it science is fair to the students? Why should this be taught as science? Why not philosophy or even mythology?

Science demands proof. Where is one piece of evidence to back up this concept? More importantly, where will it end? The bible says Jonah lived in a fish for 30 days, do we teach that as science as well?

I agree that there may well be a 'higher' power. However, that is not what will be taught. Students will be taught there is a christian higher power.

These are the same people that will tell you that you are going to hell for your beliefs, do not defend them.

Graham said...


I definately think that any spirtual outlook taught to the exclusion of others is unhealthy. And, I don't have a lot of sympathy for the people you refer to. I just think that we should try and frame the debate in more explicit terms, rather than needlessly deamean a concept which isn't that outlandish. Creationism is certainly a far cry from the notion of Intelligent Design.

Jumpin' on the Bandwagon said...

True. Intelligent Design and Creationism have very little to do with each their ACCURATE definitions. That is the problem. The 'fundies' who are pushing this agenda have no concern over accuracy.


While you are taking the high road (which is commendable) and trying to see both sides of the issue, they will take that opportunity to bash and demean you.

These are the same people who want to outlaw homosexuality, ban flag-burning and call you a traitor for questioning the war. They are not reasonable and if you make any sort of compromise on this issue they will use that to twist it into their version of what is right.

I am not saying this is true of all conservatives, or even fundamentalists. However, I do know that many evangelicals look at this as a way to chip away at church and state.

How do I know this? My mother is an evangelical christian who works in a southern baptist church. The goal is not Intelligent Design, it is Creationism. This is just a way of packaging it to get it back into the schools.

I don't mean to sound like some conspiracy theory freak. I just do not want the religious right to get this kind of foothold in our education system.

Graham said...

The difficulty is that regardless of whether generalizations have any credible basis, in my opinion it's still something I like veer away from.

I feel like that's part of the problem at the moment with the Democratic Party at the moment. We are so consumed by framing our opinions ideas in terms of the Republicans and the threat they pose and might pose in the future to the things we value, that we've lost our resonace as part of the political mainstream.

I think our values would carry far more weight in the minds of most people if we addressed them directly and got out of the habit of partisan bickery, or our battle against the extremes on the right.

Although, I have no doubt that what you say about many Evangelicals, especially in regards to homosexuality, is very true.

Jumpin' on the Bandwagon said...

Very well spoken. That is something too easily forgotten.

Graham said...

Thanks for writing on my blog, JOTB :). I appreciated your pov.

Glyn (Zaphod) Evans said...

Come on. We all know the universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster...