Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Unintelligent Design

I wonder if the "Intelligent Design" argument would have such cachet if people realised that, ultimately, it is nothing more than animism of the most primitive and grovelling sort.

I recognized this in my atheistic youth, when reading "Golden Age" SF novels by, I think, none other than John W. Campbell. In these books, Campbell, militantly trying to throw aside superstition, had his scientists, when they needed to swear, swear "By the First Cause!". This semed pretty cool, until I thought about it a bit. Even in fiction these scientists did not know what the "first cause" was, how it happened, or anything about it. In fact, they placed it in a position of worship just BECAUSE it was the ultimate mystery. These supposed scientists were putting themselves in exactly the same position as ancient sun-worshippers who assumed the Sun must be a god becasue of its wonderous charictaristics, and because they actually knew little about it.

I ran into this again when I read an essay on the Net by a microbiologist--it might have been Scott Minnich, but perhaps not, and I can't find it right now--but the gist of it was that he became a convert to intelligent design theory through his work in microbiology. New technologies gave him ever-greater insight into cell structure, which was ultimately so complex, he concluded it "had" to be the work of an intelligent designer.

If this man were on my staff, I would have fired him at once. This is not science! He concluded that because HE could not get HIS mind around what he was seeing, there was no other explanation but a preternatural one. This is against any principle of scientific method. The true scientist will not say, "We cannot understand this," the scientist will say, "We cannot understand this NOW. We do not yet know enough. Our Science is not sufficiently advanced yet." In these times, it may not yet be a generation before we unravel the structure of the features that croggled this man, and even things an order of magnitude more complex still.

To claim that life is the product of "Intelligent design" is no different than saying that anything we don't understand is due to "spirits." As another commentator pointed out, to adopt this idea as "science" would in fact be the death of science: no need to research anything at all, if, at bottom, it all runs by the will of God.

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