by David Shanahan
When I first saw Don Palmer’s article in last week’s paper responding to one of mine on Intelligent Design, I was delighted that someone was finally entering into a discussion on these things, as suggested by myself and Dr. Bill Adams in his recent contribution.
However, I’m afraid Don has misunderstood me.
He thinks the article was a disguise, that “it was merely a subterfuge” by which I was trying to sneak in a piece of Christian propaganda. Unfair, Don.
Everyone who reads the Times knows these articles are written by a Christian and are simply a means of clarifying incorrect ideas about what Christianity is and its historicity. No disguise, no subterfuge.
Anyway, moving on from that, my main comment about Don’s piece is that it lacks any attempt to support his argument with evidence, and simply rejects any argument that is not in keeping with his previously held belief system. Additionally, he is more than a little condescending in tone. He seems to believe that Christians, “jumped on the intelligent design argument,” once their belief in Creationism was discredited.
People as far back as Plato have considered intelligent design as a likely, if not inevitable, explanation for the universe as we find it.
In his Dialogues, he has Socrates say: “Whether all this which they call the universe is left to the guidance of unreason and chance medley, or, on the contrary, as our fathers have declared, ordered and governed by a marvellous intelligence and wisdom”.
This is why I pointed out that I had not named Jesus or God, or whatever, in discussing the idea. You don’t have to be a Christian to see that the universal constants and the processes by which the universe operates are far more powerful arguments for design than for a random process.
My comments about Dawkins in his conversation with Ben Stein was in no way a recommendation of Stein. It simply pointed out that Dawkins had no clearer or more likely idea of how life started on this planet other than “possibly” it was seeded by another civilization that had somehow evolved elsewhere. If he considers that a more likely possibility than that it was designed, then he has far more faith than I do, and it is a completely blind kind of faith too.
It continues to astound me that Don, Dawkins, and others continue to state most categorically that evolution is a fact supported by evidence. That is simply not the case. It is one theory among others, and not one of the most cogent. The Cambrian Explosion, the information contained in DNA, the lack of any credible transitional fossil forms, all of this indicates something other than a macro-evolutionary process.
But aside from all of this, Don perpetuates an argument that Christopher Hitchens and others were very fond of using, and one which his quote from Elizabeth Anderson repeats. Anderson holds that “the prevalence of predation, parasitism, disease, and imperfect human organs strongly supports the view that the designer is indifferent to us”.
Now, I know that the Book of Genesis is not one Don and company read a great deal, but it does have something essential to add to the discussion. Whatever you think about the historicity of Adam and Eve, the main point of the book is to explain that this world is not how it was meant to be. There was a Fall, a rebellion, because of which the original state was warped, spoiled.
That is why things are as they are, and, incidentally, why Jesus came to redeem it. Paul talks about this in his letter to the Romans, where he says: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” [Romans 8.20-22] I don’t point this out thinking it will convince anyone, but simply to say that Christians do have an explanation for the state of the world. We chose to rule it, rather than God, and he has allowed us the freedom to live with our choices. Sadly, we continue to warp and destroy the world by our selfishness and greed.
But that is another topic for another day.
I wish we could have an open and honest discussion on issues like these, without resorting to claims and comments that only reflect implacable opposition based on a lack of research and facts.
But maybe this can be a first step.