Intelligent Design vs. Evolution

Intelligent Design vs. Evolution

The origin of life is a hotly debated topic for evolutionists and creationists. The ultimate reason for debate may not be science or theology-but something far more personal.
ScienceStruck Staff
By Lana Christian

Where do we come from? We all ask that at some point, whether we're in a science lab, philosophy class, or lying on our backs looking at the sky.

Evolutionists will tell you that everything arose from lesser-complex organisms. Single cells were created spontaneously from primordial soup. Mutations worked over great stretches of time to gradually create evolutionary transitions from single-cell organisms to the present diversity of life. Natural selection solved the problem of potentially too many offspring.

Supporters of intelligent design say that today's diversity of life is not a result of random circumstances, but that an intelligent agent guided - or even created - all life. Life is too complex to have evolved naturally, so it must be the product of an unspecified intelligent designer.

Which approach seems more plausible? And why do we care so passionately about this? To answer that, first let's look at what supporters say about each approach.

Darwin had his own doubts while writing The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859. Regarding his idea of natural selection, he said, "And to think that the eye could evolve by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd to the highest degree." He also doubted his own reasoning: "I have asked myself whether I may have not devoted myself to a fantasy."

In 1874, Ernst Haeckel claimed that all vertebrates pass through an identical stage of development, thus supporting evolutionary theory. His famous drawings appeared in science textbooks for well over 120 years. In 1997, Michael Richardson and his colleagues proved these drawings to be simply wrong.

Supporters of intelligent design point to the incredible complexity of individual cells, now known to be a plethora of tiny organic "machines", that could not have randomly come together.

Geneticists will tell you that true mutations are very rare, and beneficial mutations are extremely rare. Most mutations are not compatible with life. One of the rare mutations we can observe is bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics.

British mathematician Roger Penrose has calculated that the probability of a universe conducive to life occurring by chance is in 1010123. In practical terms, in mathematics, a probability of 1 in 1050 means "zero probability."

Henry Morris, Ph.D., has described the improbability of evolution in terms of what must happen at each stage: some simple organism must be able to function and survive in its environment until the next stage. Each successive stage becomes statistically less likely than the preceding one to survive, let alone thrive. Think of the probability of just a few hundred iterations of that in producing a single cell, let alone a plant or animal.

And so the debate rages. Some scientists say intelligent design should not be taught because it isn't science. Politicians yell about separation of church and state, even though intelligent design does not promote a religion. Darwin's theories are taught as truth, even though we can't reproduce or prove them. How "good" is Darwin's "science?" And what harm could it do to teach both side-by-side?

The crux of the debate does not lie ultimately in the science-versus-theology tug-of-war. It goes deeper.

We yearn to know the purpose of our existence on this planet. It gives our lives meaning and direction. Yet many of us struggle with accepting any idea that something "out there" may be bigger, smarter, or in more control than we are.

The truth is that we are in control of far less of our lives than we'd care to admit. Ask anyone who has a progressively debilitating illness. Ask anyone who lost a house and a livelihood to a hurricane. Ask anyone who lost a child in an untimely death. We want to control our lives and our destinies. We struggle with intelligent design versus evolution because we don't like what either theory shows us.

So stop the politics and debates. Teach Darwin for what it really is - a theory. Don't dole it out as the scientific truth. Teach intelligent design alongside. Let people choose for themselves.