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Monday, July 18, 2005

Interesting new reads in the intelligent design controversy

These items landed in my intray recently:

Blogger Stephen E. Jones has a most interesting post today on the problems of accounting for the minimal cell using Darwinian evolution. A number of readers of this blog have expressed interest in hearing about the problems of Darwinian evolution, so they will want to check out that one.

The World Socialists have weighed in on the intelligent design controversy, offering their support for Darwinism. Few Darwinists should rejoice at that, given the WS’s political and economic track record. Note, incidentally, how firm the WS types are at stamping out dissent. They are really at home, in their slippers, in the closed society.

(Note: If this is not the story you were looking for, see the Blog service note below or the stories listed in the sidebar. )

"Signs of intelligence" by William Constantine addresses the connections between Darwinism and atheism:

It may be the case that evolution's founding fathers had no deliberate pact with atheism, but if the two are still unrelated why does the Atheist Alliance ("the only national democratic atheist organization in the United States" according to their website) partake in the annual celebration of "Darwin Day"? Why does the National Secular Society of Great Britain feature the face of Charles Darwin as part of a series of "Hero's of Atheism" coffee mugs and why was the father of evolution voted the overwhelming favorite hero by the organizations members?

And those groups are just the riff-raff. Respected intellectuals often make the same association ...

I was glad to see this, because the near-constant obsession about links between intelligent design and theism should be met by at least some modest examination of the links between Darwinism and atheism. I hope Constantine reads some works by ID theorists at some point. It's not clear from his article that he has yet done so; he relies heavily on a criticism by H. Allen Orr.

In "Alien autopsy: Martians as metaphors", editor Jim Emerson at RogerEbert.com manages to pry an anti-ID message out of Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. Fair enough, because Spielberg did apparently want to "make it suggestive enough so everybody could have their own opinion."

Emerson says,

Spectacularly dangerous stuff happens to Ray, and all around Ray(which is what makes him a worthy protagonist; if he just sat at home and trembled it could get pretty dull) -- but he takes a bashing and keeps on dashing toward the predetermined finish line.

And, when you think about it, that's kind of like the unsupported assumption behind Intelligent Design - that things have turned out the way they have (so far) because it was inevitable that they should; that an overriding, interventionist intelligence guided events so that they would result in the world as we see it today; and that the course of history and biology could not have gone otherwise because it was all planned in advance. The assumption is that evolution has been pointed toward this moment, rather than the present being just another point in a still-ongoing process with no "destination" in sight.

Ebert should read some lay-friendly works by intelligent design theorists. His quarrel seems to be with Laplace or perhaps with Simon Conway Morris, not with the ID guys. ID makes no claim that all current events were inevitable or that human life had to turn out the way it did. ID theorists claim only that some aspects of life forms and of the universe are best explained as the outcome of design.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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