Term Paper: Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design Is a Theory

Pages: 7 (2525 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Evolution  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … intelligent design. Intelligent design is a theory that has been posited in support of the Biblical notion of creation; that God actually had a hand in creating life, the planet Earth for mankind and other forms of life to inhabit, and the universe itself. The philosophy of creation stands in direct opposition or conflict to the scientific theory posited by Charles Darwin, the theory of evolution, which takes a view opposite that of creation, contending that all life on earth evolved from simpler forms of life. In recent years, in what has been referred to by experts as "new age" creationism or mysticism (Young, M., and Taner, E., 2004, p. 177). The different philosophies represent two schools of thought; faith, for which there is no proof, and to require proof would be in opposition to the philosophy of faith; and science, which relies on proof, and anything not proven is theory in nature and not certified as valid, or a scientific law, until such time as it becomes proven in a way that satisfies the science involved in the test of proof. At this point in time, both creation and evolution are theoretical in nature and philosophy, although both sides of the argument point to certain evidence in support of their philosophy. Of late, the creationists have taken a new approach, perhaps to win the hearts of minds of evolutionists; and have begun using science the same science relied upon by the evolutionists, to support their claims of creation. The body of science, which creationists contend prove creation, is referred to as intelligent design. Intelligent design is the subject of examination of this paper, examining two different books on the subject and looking at the ways in which the authors present their arguments, and support their claims for or against intelligent design.

The Arguments

Authors Matt Young and Taner Edis, in their book, Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism (2004), state their thesis, or argument, this way:

Intelligent Design is the successor to old-fashioned creationism dressed in a new coat - its hair cut, its beard trimmed, and its clock set back 10 or 15 billion years. It is nevertheless a hair's-breadth away from creationism in its insistence that everyone is wrong but its proponents, that science is too rigid to accept what is obvious, and that intelligent-design advocates are the victims of a massive conspiracy to withhold the recognition that their insights deserve (p. 1)."

Clearly, these authors are not proponents of ID (intelligent design), as these first two sentences comprising their thesis statement indicate, and the reader can easily understand the direction or position the authors are taking in the argument.

A second author, Isaac Asimov, writing in his book the Roving Mind, states his thesis this way:

Scientists thought it was settled. The universe, they had decided, is about 15 billion years old and the earth itself is nearly five billion years old. Simple forms of life came into being over three billion years ago, having formed spontaneously from nonliving matter. They grew more complex through slow evolutionary processes and the first hominid ancestors of humanity appeared over four million years ago. Homo sapiens itself, the present human species, people like you and me, have walked the earth for at least 50,000 years. But it isn't settled (p. 5)."

Having made his thesis statement, the reader is uncertain at this point as to what side of the question or argument the author is on.

Two books, three authors, and the same topic are being discussed, creationism vs. evolution, and the new age approach or response to the theory of evolution. However, what is also going on is that in the first book, the two authors have taken a strong position, making a strong thesis statement indicating their strong position. While in the second book, the author is taking a more subtle approach, staying focused on the subject, and the reader cannot gain a sense of which side of the argument the author is on - at least not at this point. This is an important point to consider in comparing the two books.

The authors of the first book have come out strong, conveying a kind of agitation with the idea that evolution might be challenged, and, perhaps, offended, since their position is so strong that they take an approach of beginning by an attempt to demean the proponents of ID. They are providing a physical description of how creationists might look, and it is a description that suggests that creationists are asocial in physicality, and, therefore, perhaps socially unacceptable. They contend, too, that the creationists have donned a "new coat," cleaned up their appearance with a hair cut, a shave, and now look like the rest of society, more acceptable, but nonetheless continue to be asocial because they have caused civilized society, which moves forward, a setback by billions of years. These authors have made the argument person, and it gives a sense of their own intimidation in the face of the creationists' "new coat" of intelligent design.

The problem with opening strong and in a personal way, as did the authors of the first book, is that they are limiting their audience to their supporters. The reader, who might open the book for perusal, and being either a creationist or an evolutionist, will be immediately struck by not just the authors' strong anti-intelligent design position, but will certainly take issue at the physical depiction, which the two authors paint of them as creationists. The creationists will close the book on page one. The authors have lost, by their own count, a large audience of potential readers because they came out of the gate in support of their position overly strong, beginning with an insult directed at anyone who might hold an opinion different than their own. But these authors, who no doubt wear their label of evolutionist proud, do not, having begun with a verbal affront on creationism, or intelligent design, stop there and go on to make a more scholarly or scientific argument. Rather, they continue writing from a perspective and in a voice that maintains an almost hostile defense of evolutionism, and continue to attack proponents of intelligent design, again on a personal level. The authors contend that all slave owners were creationists, and attempt to link today's creationists to the amoral act of enslaving another human being, and of a pro-slavery mentality. To this end they write:

Biblical literalism, in its North American form, took shape in the 1830s. One impetus was the attack on slavery by religious abolitionists. Slave owners or their ministers responded by citing biblical passages, notably Genesis 9:24-27, as justification for enslaving black people: 'And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son (Ham, the supposed ancestor of black people) had done to him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan (son of Ham), a servant of servants shall be unto his brethren... Canaan shall be (Shem's) servant... And (Japheth's) servant,' (King James version) (Young and Edis, 2004, p. 2).'"

The authors are positing, here, that all creationists support enslaving black people. This would be offensive to most creationists. In offending and turning off a potential audience, the authors have failed in what should be their publishing goal; to make their position wide known, and, using the art of persuasion, bring people who are on the other side of the argument to their side. Instead, by coming out strong and seemingly hostile with their opening thesis, these authors have limited their audience to one of those who believe as they do, in evolution. The evolutionists do not need to be convinced, and many, it might be suggested, are, like them, aware of the other information that is used to make the arguments in the authors' book. Therefore, because the authors are appealing to a like mind that is probably informed in a like way, they even lose members of that audience.

From a science perspective, and the perspective these two authors should have kept in mind, the authors continue in the same vane, commenting on the exchange between evolutionists and creationists, "So scientists engage with creationists in a political struggle, not a serious intellectual dispute. Although they may miss opportunities to address some interesting questions (Edis, 1998b), there is a limit to the excitement of continually revisiting matters resolved in the nineteenth century (Young and Edis, 2004, p. 9)." By page 9, where the quote appears, the authors are informing even their own supporters that the question, in their minds, was resolved in the nineteenth century, and it sounds like, for these authors, that is the end of the argument. Here, the authors fail to help the reader feel some "excitement" about the information that is presented on the subsequent pages of their own book, where they engage in scientific comparisons of evolution and creation. The authors seem to be whittling down their audience page by page. By page… [END OF PREVIEW]

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