Thursday, November 03, 2005

Evolution and "Intelligent Design"

I am a Christian who sees no conflict between belief in God and acceptance of evolutionary theory. I believe that evolution is simply the mechanism that God used (and continues to use) to create the diversity of life on Earth that is seen in the fossil record and that exists today.

Proponents of "intelligent design" claim that they only want the facts to be presented, but what are those facts? The truth is that the scientific consensus around evolution is overwhelming. Scientific studies in paleontology, comparative anatomy, biogeography, embryology, biochemistry, and molecular biology have all provided overwhelming evidence that corroborates evolutionary theory.

In an essay published on tothesource.org, Benjamin Wiker claims that "We're not dealing then with a controversy between science and religion, but a clash between two faiths, two religions." That certainly seems to be the perspective of "intelligent design" supporters, but for proponents of evolution it is always about the science. For a scientist, a theory is not a guess or a hunch. Scientific theories are explanations of natural phenomena built up from testable observations and hypotheses. Where are the testable observations and hypotheses that comprise "intelligent design" theory?

Wiker implies that support for evolution is some sort of secular conspiracy. In fact, the ancient Greeks originated the idea that similar species were descended from a common ancestor before the birth of Christ. Charles Darwin himself was a devout Christian, and once stated he did not “in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word of the Bible.” Even the Catholic Church has no quarrel with the teaching of evolution.

Wiker refers to a quote from Franklin Harold as evidence that he has been "indoctrinated against design." I agree with Harold that we may never know exactly how life on Earth got started, but why does that bother Wiker so much? Much of the beauty and mystery of belief in God is being able to accept things on faith without demanding proof. If life arose spontaneously from the primordial soup, so be it. If God provided the initial spark, I am happy, but that has nothing to do with the evolutionary process since then.

The theory of evolution has stood up to rigorous scrutiny, and treating it as “one theory among others” only embraces ignorance and transmits that ignorance to our children. Every school in America must preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.

I believe that God has given us the physical laws which govern our universe. God has also given us human minds capable of critical thought and reasoning. The proponents of "intelligent design" commit the ultimate act of hubris when they argue that we should reject our gifts and deny the clear evidence of what God has created. Any failure to use our minds for scientific inquiry is clearly a rejection of the will of God.

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