Essay: Origin of Life Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

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Evolution -- id

EVOLUTION vs. INTELLIGENT DESIGN

According to Stanley a. Rice, associate professor of biology at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the term evolution can best be defined as a process which involves many different kinds of change, usually gradual changes related to what is known as adaptation which refers to "genetic changes over time in populations of organisms" (150), something very similar to Charles Darwin's idea of the survival of the fittest, meaning that certain organisms over vast lengths of time learn to adapt to their individual environments and thus survive to produce better offspring while other organisms fail to adapt and end up becoming extinct. In contrast, the so-called theory of intelligent design (ID) is what Rice calls "minimalist creationism" and claims that "there is an irreducible complexity within biological systems and structures" and maintains that "only an intelligent creator could have brought such complex systems into existence" (213). For all intents, after reading a good amount of material written by evolutionary scientists and intelligent design advocates, it appears that evolution wins out over intelligent design, due to the fact that the existence of a creator, i.e., God, cannot be proven and that intelligent design, when examined via the scientific method, fails to live up to its basic premise.

First of all, the scientific method which Darwin's longtime friend Thomas Henry Huxley called "organized common sense" (Dupre, 56), depends upon certain basic rules and features which modern-day scientist utilize to come up with hypotheses in order to explain what they have found in the field or in the laboratory. For example, through the scientific method, scientists investigate only physical causation and occurrences, meaning that scientists "do not introduce non-physical causation into scientific explanations or investigations" (Rice 355), a reference to things and/or entities which may or may not lie outside of physical reality, i.e., the supernatural or the metaphysical, both of which cannot be proven nor shown to exist. Therefore, the theory of intelligent design cannot utilize this particular feature of the scientific method, due to its insistence on the influence of a creator, a supreme being or God whose hands and mind created and manipulated the basic building blocks of life to form life as we know it in all of its vast complexity and beauty.

Second, the scientific method allows scientists and researchers to investigate only repeatable occurrences, meaning that testing in the laboratory must come up with the same results or occurrences over and over again in order to be valid and reliable. As John Dupre points out, this is the main reason that science "is limited to physical processes and data; miracles only happen once or extremely infrequently and cannot be counted on to recur repeatedly" (156).

This feature of the scientific method is clearly reflected in the article "Intelligent Design Derailed" which discusses Christian conservatives in Dover, Pennsylvania who forced the local school board to insert ID into the biology classroom as "an alternative to the theory of evolution." When a Pennsylvania court ruled against the Christian conservatives, the judge in the case stated that "intelligent design violates centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking supernatural causation and by making assertions that cannot be tested or proved" to be right or wrong via the scientific method. The judge also stressed that ID is not supported by scientific research and cannot be tested via scientific theory or research. Thus, "the core argument for intelligent design," as the judge concluded, "the supposedly irreducible complexity of key biological systems, has clear theological (i.e., religious) overtones" (New York Times, Internet).

Third, with the scientific method, all research must be done with the assistance of a hypothesis, a theory or idea which "poses statements that can be tested and for which a clear answer can be obtained" (Rice, 355). Also, hypothesis testing uses both inductive and deductive reasoning and logic. For instance, scientists can induce general principles simply by examining a range of proven and testable facts and then deduce conclusions from these general principles. These deductions can then suggest "further hypotheses which can be inductively tested" in the field or the laboratory (Rice, 355).

In contrast to this feature of the scientific method, Michael J. Behe, writing in "Design for Living," declares that "the contemporary argument for intelligent design is based on physical evidence and a straightforward application of logic." This declaration is patently wrong, simply because there is no evidence to support ID except for what the eyes can see which is subjectively-based and not inductive. Behe also provides four linked claims to support this view. The first, which he calls "uncontroversial," is that "we can often recognize the effects of design in nature." This is also wrong, for there are no facts or data which prove that design in nature is real. The second, which Behe also calls "uncontroversial," is that "the physical marks of design are visible in aspects of biology" (New York Times, Internet). This too is wrong, simply because what the human eye observes does not necessarily indicate nor prove as being designed by an outside force.

Thirdly, Behe insists that "we have no good explanation for the foundation of life that doesn't involve intelligence," a clear condemnation of Darwin's theory on the origins of life which Behe points out is "the result of random mutation and natural selection acting over immense stretches of time" (New York Times, Internet). With this observation, Behe is overlooking a very basic fact -- it is impossible to induce the existence of intelligence in what appears to be designed by an outside force or entity, simply because of the absence of facts and data. It is interesting to note that man possesses an apparently innate need to see intelligent design in everything, only because objects, whether living or non-living, appear to be too complex to be anything else.

Lastly, Behe claims that "in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life" and that "design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious" (New York Times, Internet). Once again, Behe and those like him are deducing conclusions without the aid of inductive testing, evidence, facts or data. In other words, he is concluding that just because intelligent design cannot be proved does not necessarily mean that it does not exist.

But what is most disturbing about Behe's argument is that he declares openly that ID "is not a religiously-based idea;" that ID proponents "do not doubt that evolution occurred," and that ID "itself says nothing about the religious concept of a creator" (New York Times, Internet). All of these statements are in error if not blatant lies, due to the fact that ID proponents insist that life on earth came about via "intelligent design" which connotes a creator, in this case, God or some other theologically-based supreme being. Also, ID, much like its forerunner creationism, was conceived as a biblically-based way of disputing Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection; thus, one wonders how a proponent of ID could not possess doubts about Darwin's evolutionary theory.

Amazingly, in the New York Times article "Intelligent Design Derailed," the author points out that the "board members who pushed the ID policy... had repeatedly expressed religious reasons for opposing evolution" and that two of these board members "lied in depositions to hide the fact they had raised money... To buy copies of an intelligent design textbook" for the school library. These and other board members were also "strikingly ignorant" about ID and had "lied time and again to hide their religious motivations for backing the concept" (New York Times, Internet). In addition, it is worth mentioning that Michael J. Behe is a professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University, founded by Moravian Christians in the mid-1800's, and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Origin of Life Evolution vs. Intelligent Design.  (2008, October 21).  Retrieved May 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/origin-life-evolution-intelligent-design/7884095

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