Anthropology Essays - Intelligent Design Evolution

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Intelligent Design Evolution


This essay is about the debate between Intelligent Design and Evolution. Who’s right?

Chapter 1 – What is Intelligent Design?

Intelligent Design is about the quest for the origins of life, the universe and the living things.

Intelligent Design is the modern form of the theological argument of creation. The suporters of Intelligent Design don't believe that life comes from evolution. They think there is a intelligent cause. What that intelligence is isn't told by Intelligent Design. That is one of the reasons a lot of Darwinists think the concept of Intelligent Design is dangerous. They think it is a way to bring back creationism into the society. The first supporters of Intelligent Design believed that this supernatural cause of our being alive was God. Intelligent Design supporters like to refer to Intelligent Design as a science.

In the scienceworld they call it a pseudoscience. Pseudoschience uses knowledge that is claimed to be/appears to be scientific but isn't researched by the common scientific methods. They can't be called science because they can't be tested with an experiment. Some people even call it junk-science! Because it is called a pseudoscience it isn't allowed to educate Intelligent Design on secondary education in de USA. More and more scientist begin to believe that Intelligent Design is a concept that can be true. They say that life is too complex to be created by a natural process.

To find the origins to 1987. That was the year court decided about the separation between state and church. It wasn't allowed anymore to teach creationism on public schools. As reaction on this Intelligent Design evolved. According to the Intelligent Design supporters this wasn't a religious thing. This is science! The first book about Intelligent Design was published in 1989. That book was called 'Pandas and People'. This book was intended for high school biologie classes. Around 1990 the proponents of Intelligent Design grouped at the Discovery Institute. This was the moment the Intelligent Design movement began to grow very fast. At the moment more and more people start to accept Intelligent Design. 66% of the Americans wants that Intelligent Design becomes a part of science lessons. The judges think this isn't acceptable because it isn't really science. It is too much coupled to creationism and near to religion.

It disagrees with the Evolution theory, it says that there must be ‘something’ which or who designed the earth, a kind of intelligence. They say some things can’t be explained by the Evolution Theory, like Irreducible Complexity - things are so complex that they can’t be build up by evolution, as the Evolution theory says, example: the mouse trap, it doesn’t work until all parts are there -. The main idea behind Intelligent Design is according to William Dembski: “There are natural systems which can’t be explained sufficiently in terms of unguided natural powers and those who have features which we in every other cirumstances should attribute to an intelligence.”

In fact, it is a new form of the traditional theological argument in favour of the existence of God, however, in history there were also persons who believed in a kind of Intelligent Design, like William Paley. In 1802 he proposed his ‘watchmaker’ thesis. This was his reasoning: “In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever. ... But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think the answer which I had before given [would be sufficient].” [a]

To the contrary, the fine coordination of all its parts would force us to conclude that “… the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.”[a]

According to Paley, we can conclude the same about natural objects, like the eye. The parts are all perfectly adapted for the purpose of telling us the correct time. In a watch the parts are also perfectly adapted for the purpose of seeing. In this way, we can see the that there must have been an Intelligent Designer.

Darwin himself also saw that if something was found which couldn’t be explained by evolution, his theory would fail, like he said: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." [b]

The modern Intelligent Design is a response to the 1987 United States Supreme Court, involving the separation of church and state. The first book which was published about ID was a textbook for high-school biology classes, in 1989. This book is ‘Of Pandas and People’. Lateron, more and more books about Intelligent Design were published. In the middle of the 1990s, persons in favour of Intelligent Design clustered around the Discovery Institute. When time went on, the ID movement grew bigger and bigger. The proponents wanted Intelligent Design to be taught at school as an alternative explanation of the origin of life. ButJohn E. Jones jugded that ID is not science, and that it “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious antecedents.”

Chapter 2 – Who are in favour of Intelligent Design

There is an institute, called the Discovery Institute, who is sceptical about Evolution. You can also say, they are advocates of Intelligent Design. They made a list, which you, if you are a person who works in the scientific area, can sign and support in this way the following statement:

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

This statement is signed by a small 800 persons, mainly professors and doctors in physics, biology, mathematics, earth sciences & nuclear physics, chemistry, biochemistry etcetera. You can find the list on this link:

Some of the main advocates of the ID movement are:

  • Michael J. Behe
  • Jonathan Wells
  • Mustafa Akyol
  • William Paley
  • William A. Dembski
  • Bob Inglis
  • Roy Spencer
  • Paul Nelson
  • John C. Sanford
  • Guillermo Gonzalez

What did they do for the ID movement:

  • He wrote the book: Darwins Black Box; The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, and he worked out the idea of Irreducible Complexity.
  • Wrote the book: Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth?, and devoted his life to ‘destroy the Darwinism’.
  • He isn’t a Christian, but a muslim, who fights against Islamic Extremism, and is an outspoken promoter of Intelligent Design. He is a columnist and writer.
  • He is the one who thought of the famous watchmaker analogy, he was a British philosopher, and a Christian.
  • He wrote several books, dealing with Intelligent Design, theology and mathematics. He has also been the first director of the school’s new Center for Theology and Science.
  • He is a politician, member of the Republican Pary. He wants to make Intelligent Design allowed to be taught at schools.
  • He works for the University of Alabama, in Huntsville, as a principal research scientist. First, he believed in evolution, but when he grew older, he became a proposer of Intelligent Design.
  • His grandfather, Byron Christopher Nelson, was a creationist writer, who wrote much books about Intelligent Design. He edited a book about his fathers writings.
  • He has been assistant professor, and an inventor. First it was a evolutionist, but lateron he discovered that Intelligent Design was better, that everything must be created by a supernatural being, by God. He also wrote a book: ‘Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome’.
  • He is an astrophysicist. He’s also professor, and he does researches about stellar evolution using spectroscopy, and on extrasolar planets.

Chapter 2 a) – What are the arguments in favour of Intelligent Design

We allready mentioned you some arguments, like the watchmaker thesis of William Paley and Irreducible Complexity. Since Irreducible Complexity is one of the main arguments in favour of Intelligent Design, we will explain it in more detail.

An Irreducible Complex system is according to Michael Behe:

‘A single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of anyone of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning’ [c]

In earlier times, in the 17th and 18th century, there were also some men who said that there must be an intelligent being, an intelligent Deity. Those men were John Ray, Richard Bentley and Wiliam Derham. Wiliam Derham said that if you look how the vision of a bird, the drum of the ear, the eye-socket, or the digestive system works, you can’t deny that an Intelligent Designer exists. Richard Bentley added the law of gravitation, a discovery of Newton, as evidence for Intelligent Design.

David Hume is the most famous critic of these arguments. In Part II of his famous Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume formulates the argument as follows:

Look round the world: contemplate the whole and every part of it: you will find it to be nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number of lesser machines, which again admit of subdivisions to a degree beyond what human senses and faculties can trace and explain. All these various machines, and even their most minute parts, are adjusted to each other with an accuracy which ravishes into admiration all men who have ever contemplated them.

The curious adapting of means to ends, throughout all nature, resembles exactly, though it much exceeds, the productions of human contrivance; of human designs, thought, wisdom, and intelligence. Since, therefore, the effects resemble each other, we are led to infer, by all the rules of analogy, that the causes also resemble; and that the Author of Nature is somewhat similar to the mind of man, though possessed of much larger faculties, proportioned to the grandeur of the work which he has executed. By this argument a posteriori, and by this argument alone, do we prove at once the existence of a Deity, and his similarity to human mind and intelligence.

Since the world, on this analysis, is closely analogous to the most intricate artifacts produced by human beings, we can infer "by all the rules of analogy" the existence of an Intelligent Designer who created the world. Just as the watch has a watchmaker, then, the universe has a universe-maker. As expressed in this passage, then, the argument is a straightforward argument from analogy with the following structure:

1.The material universe resembles the intelligent productions of human beings in that it exhibits design. 2.The design in any human artifact is the effect of having been made by an intelligent being. 3.Like effects have like causes. 4.Therefore, the design in the material universe is the effect of having been made by an intelligent creator.

Hume criticizes the argument on two main grounds. First, Hume rejects the analogy between the material universe and any particular human artifact. As Hume states the relevant rule of analogy, "wherever you depart in the least, from the similarity of the cases, you diminish proportionably the evidence; and may at last bring it to a very weak analogy, which is confessedly liable to error and uncertainty" (Hume, Dialogues, Part II). Hume then goes on to argue that the cases are simply too dissimilar to support an inference that they are like effects having like causes:

If we see a house,… we conclude, with the greatest certainty, that it had an architect or builder because this is precisely that species of effect which we have experienced to proceed from that species of cause. But surely you will not affirm that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house that we can with the same certainty infer a similar cause, or that the analogy is here entire and perfect (Hume, Dialogues, Part II).