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Evolution And Intelligent Design

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Evolutionist Position

Science is defined by the National Academy of Science as being limited to the natural, observable world. The Scientific Method is the process used by scientists to investigate the world based on what we can observe, test, record, replicate and verify. Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. (Gould 1983) A theory is a conceptual framework that explains existing observations and can be used to make accurate predictions for understanding new observations. Good science recognizes that theories are provisional and are always open to testing against the facts. It is not an offense to Darwin's dignity for people to offer scientific criticisms and make investigations of the scientific theory of evolutionary.

Wallace came to much the same conclusion that Darwin published in the Origin of Species: biogeography is a record of inheritance. As species colonized new habitats, and their old ranges were divided by mountain ranges or other barriers, they took on the distributions they have today. Gould proposed the theory of "punctuated equilibrium," which claims that evolutionary development isn't gradual, as Charles Darwin supposed, but takes place in concentrated bursts, followed by long periods of stasis. Gould argued that natural selection can operate on groups and species, as well as on genes and individual organisms. Gould rejected the Darwinian Theory in that natural selection is the only important evolutionary mechanism. Many features of organisms, he argued, are the result of structural constraints, rather than adaptive advantage. (Gasper 2002)

Intelligent Design Position

The Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture explains that their position as the main proponents of Intelligent Design (I.D.), as outlined in The Wedge Strategy is to ". . . crack the materialist edifice", change the ground rules of science to include supernatural causes, and to have I.D. "theory" replace evolution theory in science; as science being taught, and research being done from the perspective of "design theory".

Intelligent Designists' rejection of the scientific theory of evolution is because it is perceived as offensive and contrary to the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) belief in the abrupt creation of the entire planet; with its current geography and compliment of biota, occurring only a few thousand years ago. The scientific theory of evolution does not include mention of an intelligent designer (God), so it is perceived by the Intelligent Design Movement as atheistic. The IDM claims that teaching evolution is a slippery-slope that is a "subversion of Christianity," and that it will inevitably "lead school children to disrespect the Bible". (Dover 2005)

Intelligent Design's Arguments Against Evolution

Instead of presenting unified information to argue constructively for Intelligent Design, the Intelligent Design Movement makes arguments against the theory of evolution. This reasoning fallacy is attempting to persuade by inferring that if scientific theory of evolution is Ð''wrong', then Intelligent Design is Ð''right'. According to the Court's decision, the only positive evidence generated by the Defense at the Dover v. Kitzmiller trial that addressed the strength of the ID inference was the argument that ID is less plausible to those for whom God's existence is in question, and is much less plausible for those who deny God's existence. (Dover 2005)

Examples of the argument against evolution presented by the ID proponents include the fraud of Haeckel's embryos, interpretations of the fossil record (Cambrian Ð''explosion'), and the concept of irreducible complexity. As evidence of irreducible complexity, they cite a number of specific examples, including: the eye, and the bacterial flagellum (Behe 2002).

Haeckel's Embryos

Ernst Haeckel faked his pictures of embryos to make them look more alike than they are. Undetected fraud in science is unimportant. Existence of known and documented fraud is a good illustration of the self-correcting nature of science. It does not matter for the progress of science that a scientist tried fraud because any important work must withstand independent verification. Replication of results is routinely undertaken by scientists. Any important result will be replicated many times by many different people. This self-correcting nature of science helps ensure integrity in the scientific community.

Interpretations of Fossil Record (the Cambrian Ð''explosion')

Jonathan Wells' interpretations of the fossil record are such that indicate a "Cambrian Ð''explosion'" of biodiversity. (Wells 2002) The fossil record shows definitively that there was a burst in animal size and a quick development of shells during the Cambrian. A critical accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere and a change in climate could have allowed animals to grow larger, forcing them to grow shells for protection. Increased oxygen pressure also allows collagen production. These changes would allow more fossil preservation than the smaller, soft body types of the previous organisms. The initial branching out of different kinds of organisms happened hundreds of millions of years earlier. (Jones 2001)

Irreducible Complexity and the Eye/Watch Analogy

The story of watch and watch maker uses an invalid analogy to compare an artifact to a natural system, the eye. Critical analysis of an analogy requires us to asses the analogical reasoning in whether the two cases being compared are essentially alike. A watch and an eye are not essentially alike; therefore this analogy is invalid. The Intelligent Design Movement uses an assortment of reasoning fallacies to argue against the scientific theory of evolution. I have outlined the use of the slippery slope fallacy, wherein IDM claims that teaching the scientific theory of evolution will have disastrous societal results. This is also an emotional appeal. IDM uses a contrived dualism and either-or reasoning fallacy; intending its attacks on evolution to mean that science is Ð''wrong' and ID is Ð''right'. Subsequently, everyone is invited to take a ride on a band-wagon fallacy with the spin their public relations puts on that ID is Ð''right' and Ð''more adequate' than the scientific theory of evolution.

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