Evolution as Intelligent Design
Welcome to Aquarius, Volume 8 (August 16, 2007), Squaring the Circle Exactly.
Essay: Evolution Versus Intelligent Design (3 pages)
Or: Would you please describe for me the particular design that you see, which is the design (or plan or process or event or occurrence) that you attribute to an intelligence? And, would you please describe and explain to me the form of the intelligence that creates, or created, this design. I am especially interested in hearing whether you believe that "intelligence" is a quality that can be embodied only in a person, and that Nature itself, or Her-Self, could not possibly possess a form of intelligence. And then please explain to me why you believe Nature is "stupid" or "dumb" or "ignorant" rather than "intelligent."
I see this debate as a sign that Homo Ignoramus has not made the progress we had hoped for. I cannot grasp how and why anyone with any brains would see Darwin's Theory of Evolution (better named and better understood as the Theory of Natural Selection) and the concept of "Intelligent Design" as being significantly different or in some way in competition with one another. Indeed, a lot of media people, who usually sound like they know nothing, imply on the air and in writing that "Intelligent Design" is a form of "creationism" and is obviously the opposite of the "Theory of Evolution." They are not only not opposite. To anyone who is able to think logically about this issue, the Theory of Natural Selection, or of Evolution, is clearly a description of an intelligent design. It just happens that Darwin's theory has some specific elements that are clearly described, such as "survival trait" and "natural selection" and "separate species" and "species" defined as an animal that can reproduce only with another individual of the same species. This specificity, this explanatory and descriptive content of the Theory of Evolution makes it the best "intelligent design" that we have thus far, even though it is imperfect and incomplete. The religious and creationist concept of "intelligent design," to the contrary, appears to me to be totally lacking in any specific details that can be discussed or debated. For the religious fanatics and creationists, as well as for the general public, the concept or theory or sound byte of "Intelligent Design" is only an assertion, with no supporting facts, arguments or supporting observations. No advocate of "Intelligent Design" has ever offered the slightest explanation of how it actually differs from Evolution. Where is the "science" that the creationists so desperately want to attach to their magical belief system? Where are those important details? Where is the design that is intelligent? And what is the form of the intelligence that made the design?
Darwin's Theory provides some convincing and understandable details, and some further questions not yet answered:
First: The question under discussion is: Why are there many species of four-legged animals, of insects, of birds, of fish, and of plants? That is, if all of these variations in living organisms were created by Nature, instead of by Santa Claus, how would Nature have accomplished this?
Second: The evidence that there are genetic mutations and development of "survival traits" makes sense. An individual mammal grows bigger leg muscles and runs faster. A fish has a new sense of movement in the water. A bird can fly faster, or its beak is different, stronger, so that it can open the shells of seeds. An insect builds a safer nest for its offspring. These are all examples of "survival traits."
Third: The process of "natural selection" makes sense. That is, if some individual members of a species of mammal, or bird, or fish, develops a new trait and that new trait increases that organism's chances of survival, then...
Fourth: The survival trait is "perpetuated" because more individuals of that species with that survival trait live long enough to reproduce, and therefore they pass on the trait to more offspring then those individuals without that survival trait, until that new trait becomes a permanent trait for every member of that species. This makes sense.
Fifth: This is at least a partial answer to the original question as to how different species come to exist, if produced only by Nature, and not by Wal-Mart.
There are still questions unanswered. According to this theory of natural selection, we can see the process that would lead to the evolution of a hummingbird and an eagle from some ancient ancestor generic "bird." The hummingbird has survival traits, being able to digest nectar from flowers and live that way. Being able to fly fast and far, being hard to see and catch, being able to build a small nest, hidden and safe. The eagle also has survival traits, being big and clawed with a beak like a pair of shears and a knife and being scary and able to fly high and fast and far and able to build a large nest high up and out of sight of most predators. And being able to tear apart and eat abundant prey such as fish, snakes, rabbits and other rodents.
So we have these two birds, both birds, but an eagle cannot mate with a hummingbird and produce a "hummingeagle." Why is that? What is the event that makes one bird a different species from another bird? That event is not the same thing as growing a new kind of beak, or stronger legs and claws, or just growing BIGGER. This question is not yet answered. It is a part of the "intelligent design" of Evolution that calls for further study. Further study means "science." We need more science, not less.
The essential CORE POINT here that I am certain is accessible to the finely-honed brains of religious fundamentalists is that in Darwin's Intelligent Design, which is called "Natural Selection" or "Evolution," the intelligence that produces the design is Nature. This is the true offense, the part that the creation-heads hate. They hate it when scientists present evidence that things accomplished by Nature are, or appear to be, intelligent. They hate it when scientists, or others who possess a serious religious faith, argue that "intelligence" is not necessarily to be found in men (or women) alone. We, that is those of us who look, see intelligence in many forms in many living organisms, and even in plants, who have the good sense to grow in the sun and where there is water, or wherever it is that they can survive and reproduce. Life finds a way, and it all appears to a scientist to be so natural, that is, occurring simply as part of the process of Nature, and not caused by a disturbed God from a Video Arcade who likes to play games with stars and planets and life. This is the real issue behind the contrived debate.
This is the real issue: Does Nature possess a form of intelligence that is sufficient to produce all of the life that exists in the Universe? Is matter self-organizing? There is a great deal of scientific evidence that the answer to these questions is "Yes." My own work here is presented as evidence that Nature uses proportion, I believe, to produce all of the shapes that it produces. And producing shapes means the capacity to produce protein molecules and all of the molecules, cells and tissues that are found in what we call "life." So, I am clearly one of those who believes that there is definitely an intelligent design, and the intelligence is definitely Mother Nature, a woman, the Mother of All Things.
My dear scientific friends, please don't let the crude but shrewd fundamentalists, racists and killers (only murder is a sin, not killing bad people for your "Patria") of the world waste your time again. They are not pursuing a debate. They are, as usual, making an assertion that contains the implied principle, within itself, upon which the assertion itself is based. That hidden implied principle is that only God, "our" Creator God, defined by us as a person, could be "intelligent." Nature cannot have any form of "intelligence" they say, perhaps because Nature is "dirty" or "sexual" or beyond human control. In any case, whatever it is that they don't like about Nature, they want everyone to believe, either deliberately or accidentally or through laziness, that if there is anything in the universe that appears to be "intelligent," it had to be created by a person, perhaps an engineer hired by an entrepreneur financed by a group of investors. Kind of like saying "God is a Corporation." That's it. That's what "Intelligent Design" really means. It means that the Universe is patented, and copyrighted and it is in fact "industrial property" and even "intellectual property." It's a secret, of course, and the Fundamentalist Church owns it, and they don't have to disclose it to anyone. That's it. The Universe is designed by an intelligent person, named "God," but we don't have to explain anything further. That's all there is. We are right because we know we are right and you are wrong because you are an atheistic, faithless person and God wants to punish you and so do we, so we will punish you by purchasing a television "news service" and use it to drive you nuts.
I am a scientist and I see Nature as the Creator of All Things. You fundamentalists see your God, who is something like your uncle, only richer, as the Creator of All Things. But no matter how you twist logic, you cannot successfully claim that your "creationism" is scientific. Before you can make a credible claim to being scientific, you have to acknowledge that "intelligence" is not a quality that applies only to a person. You have to agree, in order to be scientific, that Nature can do things that are intelligent, and no "person" is required.
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