The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Intelligent Design and Evolution: Does it have to be one or the other?

Just this morning I was reading a book in which it was clear that the author believes that the only way that evolution can have occurred is by the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection, and derides the concept of intelligent design along with creationism. I believe that it is a grievous mistake to say that you can't have both evolution and intelligent design.

For some reason, the evidence for evolution that we have has been taken to be evidence for the concept that evolution occurred via one specific mechanism: random mutations followed by survival of the fittest (i. e. natural selection). I would like to see any basis for distinguishing this mechanism from an alternative, which I maintain is firmly within the framework of intelligent design:

There is a God who controls this world, but rather than a de novo creation of new species, His mechanism is to see what His creations are like, and make modifications toward a goal. In other words, it is not blind chance, but intelligent tinkering, that drives evolution.

Now, no scientific investigation can prove my hypothesis, but in fact I believe that none can disprove it, either. I would challenge any Dawkinsian atheist to give me one piece of scientific evidence that can be used successfully to refute my hypothesis. I don't think there can be any.

Now the point can be made that science proceeds only by investigating testable hypotheses, and that the hypothesis I have formulated is not testable. I maintain that the real point is that the hypothesis of the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations followed by survival of the fittest is no more testable than mine. So, in fact, science cannot dismiss intelligent design out of hand, and the two hypotheses (intelligent design and Darwin's natural selection mechanism) are of equal status; they both have to be considered speculative philosophy rather than science.

Note that nothing that I have said here denies the factuality of evolution, so do not call me a creationist. My point is that, even given acceptance that evolution has occurred in the past and probably continues to occur, one cannot dismiss the idea of intelligent design out of hand.

So please let us have some sense here. Arguments for evolution (which I accept!) do not prelude intelligent design. And they no more prove the Darwinian mechanism than the fact that 2+2=4 proves that all numbers are even. Let's be honest about this.


Asclepius said...

In philosophical terms, we refer to "universal" and "particular" causes; science has much to say about particular causes, and it is quite possible that something like natural selection is a completely "random" process in and of itself, even though science has nothing to say - and indeed can say nothing - about any universal, governing cause. The best way to picture this is a large circle (universal) containing a lot of other smaller circles (particulars).

So, to answer your question: Nope, doesn't have to be one or the other, as you sufficiently explain through another route.

Good post.

Opinionator said...

Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you liked my post.