It has been said that you can always know what pig got stuck, because he squeals the loudest. It seems that the media has gotten stuck pretty badly, because there seems to be an exceptionally large amount of squealing about intelligent design (ID) in the media. In Time for August 8, 2005, for example, Charles Krauthammer has an editorial titled "Let's Get Rid of Scopes Trials Once and for All." It is typical of the attacks on ID being made in the media and by atheists today--totally missing the point of what the controversy is and what the history of the evolution/creation controversy is about.

From a legal standpoint, what the Scopes trial was about was whether Scopes had broken the law, and not whether the Bible was true or whether creationism as defined by the parties involved was logical. The jury decided he had. What the media saw and what has been popularized since the trial are the inconsistencies of some creationists and their beliefs about the history of life on Earth. When Darrow put Bryan in the defendant seat, the questions asked revolved around Bryan's beliefs and what many religious people of the day thought was true. The questions had nothing to do with what had been taught in the classroom and what Scopes was guilty of. They had to do with one person's belief system--in this case the lawyers'.

Most Christians today would believe that the law was not a wise law. A court case today would be more likely to center on the validity of the law rather than on what someone did in their individual classroom. For Krauthammer to make a reference to the Scopes trial as relevant to the ID question is to totally miss the point. What is involved in ID is a belief system that is different from the belief system of naturalism. Your belief system may affect how you interpret facts and how you apply them to problems in life. It may also affect where you go to look for facts--what kinds of experiments you do and where you look for data. Your belief system should not affect the outcome of your experiments or the facts that you uncover about things of history.

Naturalism takes the position that mindless chance is the way everything in life should be approached. The champion of this belief system is Richard Dawkins. Dawkins states his naturalistic belief system clearly in his book Out of Eden (page 133) when he says:

In the universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won't find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.

Julian Huxley made a similar statement many years ago when he said:

We are as much a product of blind forces as is the falling of a stone to Earth or the ebb and flow of the tides. We have just happened, and man was made flesh by a long series of singularly beneficial accidents.

Later Huxley explained the basis of his naturalistic philosophy when he said: "I had a reason for wanting the world to not have a meaning, and consequently assumed it had none. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world, is concerned to prove that there is no reason why he should not do as he wants to. For me the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation--sexual and political."

In both the statements of Huxley and Dawkins the role of chance is emphasized. The argument is that everything is driven totally by chance without purpose or design. Those critical of ID attempt to portray naturalism as the only way science can operate. The fact of the matter however, is that the giants of science in the past have universally been men and women who saw purpose and intelligence in the cosmos. Scientists like Newton, Pascal, Maxwell, and Boyle all came from backgrounds where their view was that God had created the world with order, purpose, and design and they investigated things to find that order, purpose, and design. If you really believe that the creation is mindless and totally driven by rote chance, why would you try to understand it? Even to this day we hear all kinds of scientists talk about the design of something they are studying. You hear statements like "nature planned it to..." and "this is engineered to...." These are not statements of blind mechanistic chance, but a recognition of intelligence and purpose in the things that are being studied.

The ID movement is a belief system that says that blind mechanistic chance is not the primary causal agent in the cosmos. Whether you look at Behe's work with microscopic machines in living organisms, or Dembinski's elaborate discussions of chemical systems, the fact is that chance is not embraced as the only answer to cause in the natural world. This does not mean that everything is robotically driven. I can design a garden and plant the seeds in a certain way to give a desired result. The garden is intelligently designed, but without rain, cultivation, and nutrient provision, the final desired result will not happen. Whether it rains or not is not even a product of chance, in spite of what many of us think. Certain things are needed for rain--water, cool temperatures, and condensation nuclei. We can contribute to these variables intelligently without robotically controlling them.

ID does not preclude research. It does not do away with much of the randomness seen in nature. It simply recognizes that things happen in the natural world for a reason, and that the way things happen are contained within limits that are intelligently set. Darwin recognized this. In Darwin's writings, we see, "I look at everything as resulting from designed laws with the...." Dr. Frank Schaeffer gave a theistic twist of this idea when he said " that's how God did it." In my 41 years of teaching high school science, if a student or parent complained about the things we were learning in my earth science or physics class, I would always say, "All we are doing in this class, is learning about how God did what He did. We do not talk about the why-He-did-it issues; that is for you as a parent to do in the religious training of your child." The atheist can say, "Well, I think it just happens" and that is a faith statement that they are free to make and believe. The amount of wisdom and intelligence seen in every aspect of the creation stands in opposition to this view, but there are many things people believe (in and out of religion) that are pretty incredible, and people believe them nonetheless.

Atheists are trying to use the ID movement as a means of creating the view that science and faith are natural enemies. This is an aggressive attempt to claim science as atheist territory. It is important to counter that attempt by pointing out the positive effect of recognizing intelligence in the creation. It has been interesting to watch atheists try to counter Michael Behe's mousetrap analogy for irreducible complexity. Behe compares a mousetrap to various biological machines seen in nature. He shows that to produce a common mousetrap, all of the parts have to come together at the same time and place in a functional way and be integrated together. He then suggests that to get a certain very complex biological organism with its propulsion system and sensing system, the same things must be true. Behe's detractors countered his arguments by devising a mousetrap that worked but which was missing one of the basic parts. The idea was that not all of the parts had to be there for a modern mousetrap to work, and that this could have developed in stages. Behe answered this by pointing out the enormous time, planning, and intelligence that had to be used in order to design an intermediate stage mousetrap that worked around the missing part--chance could not do that.

Investigating the biological organism from both Behe's standpoint and his detractors' standpoint was good science. Both researchers were looking at evidence and trying to construct workable theories connected with that evidence. In both cases the researchers had a vested interest in what they were doing, but they were both doing scientific investigation, and the body of knowledge that was coming from their research was positive and would lead to better understandings. The vicious attempts to smear the ID movement as some kind of insidious religious attempt to destroy science is a dishonest anti-religion campaign. Religious people who try to make the ID movement a methodology of doing science contribute to the misunderstandings and misapplications of apologetics. Science and faith are friends, not enemies. There is a need to stop preparing for war and to find ways of making peace. Both sides need to listen again to the old lines from Albert Einstein, "Religion without science is lame, but science without religion is blind." Einstein also said, "Unless science and religion work together, they are both useless."

--John N. Clayton

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