Saturday, November 19, 2005

#212 - The Idiot's Guide to Intelligent Design

There are always extremists in any given argument. When one side believes itself to be correct, no amount of discussion or presentation of evidence will do much to convince that side to change its thinking. We see much of that same dynamic in the on-going fight over "intelligent design."

On the one hand, you have the scientific community, currently represented by the humanists who believe that everything that has ever happened has been the result of some gigantic cosmic accident. They try to peel back the layers of our terrestrial onion to uncover the secrets of where we came from and why we exist. God becomes an excuse created by man to make up for his lack of knowledge.

On the other hand are the theologians. These are represented by those who believe that none of what we experience could possibly be anything but the design of an all-powerful deity who has carefully controlled every facet of our physical life. To understand everything about creation requires faith as much as (or perhaps more than) knowledge, because so much of what we lack remains hidden to our natural eyes.

This debate intrigues me because, while I come down pretty firmly on the side of the theologians, I feel that there is value in something that the great philosopher, James Tiberius Kirk, once said: "You and I are both extremists," he once told Spock. "The truth is probably somewhere in the middle."

To understand my own position, of course, it's important to tell you what I believe. And why I don't necessarily buy completely into the "intelligent design" meme, even if I believe most of it.

In LDS scripture, we have the statement of Alma on which I base all of my scientific (such as it is) research. While debating an anti-Christ about the existence of God, Alma said, "The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." (Alma 30:44)

In other words, Alma points out to Korihor that creation itself is evidence of the existence of God. The entire spectrum of physical life, our very solar system, and the entire known (and speculated) universe are all evidences that God not only exists, but that he has power to set and keep all these things in motion. The scientific world - bless their little knowledge-thirsting hearts! - have done little to "prove" that God does not exist. All they can do is gain an increasingly better understanding of how or why things work the way they do, but how many of them have been able to do more than postulate on what made the Big Bang go "bang?"

Still, I also don't buy into the argument that God is so controlling that we aren't given considerable leeway to live according to our own consciences. And I don't necessarily believe that Darwinism is the great evil protrayed by many religious apologists.

There's simply too much empirical evidence to dismiss Darwin's theories out of hand. Certainly it has been proven, time and again, that many species have adapted and evolved over time. I have yet, of course, to see where it has been proven that man derived from any anthropoid thus far discovered. As far as I'm concerned, Adam appeared in the garden, and it's all been down-hill from there. But I also know that the biblical account of the creation is far more allegory than scientific fact, so I have no problem accepting that the earth could very well be four-plus billion years old. That would be plenty of time to form life gradually, enact a few extinctions, and shake up the landscape enough to prepare the earth for its most significant inhabitant.



All lack of modesty aside, there is still more than enough hidden knowledge awaiting discovery. God himself is subject to the laws on which our creation is based, and science has yet to fully comprehend the true glue that keeps the universe growing within its sphere.

In the meantime, the debate rages on. Until both communities get comfortable with the idea that there is room at the table for both perspectives, the debate will remain contentious. Someday, I hope, there will be a meeting of mind and spirit. Until then...

... semper fi.

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