We don’t deny a natural process -do we- when we say “God created us” as adults? Religious or not, everyone of us accepts that this is a biological development process from the conception to embryo, from embryo to baby, childhood, adulthood etc.
I guess, religious fundamentalists hate the idea of evolution because they possibly fear that a wide-spread understanding of Darwinian evolution might harm the belief in a benevolent God with supernatural powers. Some even non-religious people might think the society needs for stability the authority of an omnipotent hands-on God.
As Bertrand Russel once said “societies need free-thinking for creativity and unquestioned dogmas for cohesion”. That is, every society needs to find a fine balance between rational and dogmatic thinking.
Anyhow, the American Evangelists put forward the idea of intelligent design as an antithesis of evolution. I tried to understand what they say and write, but soon came to the conclusion that all they do is pseudoscience and conservative right-wing propaganda directed to people who are sufficiently ignorant about science and biology.
Even then, “don’t you please have any prejudices” I told myself. “Try to understand what they say properly”.
Then I asked myself what’s actually the difference between intelligent design and evolution? Can there be intelligence without evolution at all?
I had directed this question also to the forum at RichardDawkins.net:
Is there any difference between intelligent design and evolution?
With intelligent design people usually mean purposefully devising a design as if instantaneously, in a single quick step out of nothing. But that’s probably not true; every design is a product of a thinking process, and a thinking process is a sort of evolution which happens in our brains.
How do we think at all? Do we really create some ideas from the scratch? I don’t believe so. I think, many axioms, options and ideas built upon past experiences compete in our brain in a subconscious area; a mental simulation of trial and error. We don’t need to test each step in real life, because our brain has the capability of simulating the approximate real life conditions, even if not always perfectly.
Because we consciously perceive only the winning ideas that come to the surface we live under the illusion that we create our ideas out of nothing.
I think, even intelligent design is the product of some evolutionary processes. The question is, can there be another kind of intelligence other than evolution?
The difference between evolution and intelligent design is in my opinion not the process, but maybe the lack of purpose and foresight in evolution. How can we explain the evolution of purpose and foresight in animal brains, or some implicit purpose in nature which we don’t even notice? How can we define purpose in the philosophical sense? A challenging task indeed!
Tunç Ali Kütükçüoğlu, July 2009, Zürich
Evolution resources in internet:
see http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=19713 for an excellent listing. I recommend: