The Ugly American: Origin of the argument, or, why some people get so nasty when discussing Evolution and ID. Locations of visitors to this page
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The Ugly American
Monday, May 12, 2008
  Origin of the argument, or, why some people get so nasty when discussing Evolution and ID.
I’ve read several articles recently that discuss Intelligent Design. I read these articles on a site called BlogCritics (BC) where comments are allowed and offered. It seems that every time this discussion comes up it gets extremely nasty.

Those that follow the largely accepted Theory of Evolution seem to get extremely nasty towards the folks that follow the ID theory. Now I know that there are those, let’s call them evolutionists, that will say that ID is not a theory, only a concept, if they’ll even give it that much credit, or even worse, a fairy tale.

Well, dictionary.com defines a theory as contemplation or speculation, or guess or conjecture. That’s two of the definitions anyway. The other ones are a lot more wordy, but mean basically the same thing. Using those definitions, Evolution as a theory, could be a guess or maybe even speculation.

Let’s look at these a little closer. Darwins' theory says that through a process called “natural selection” organisms slowly mutate over time and as some of these mutations aid in survival they stick around and those traits that aren’t beneficial to survival end up dying off. Sounds good. I mean, fish don’t need fins if they’re on land. Anybody that’s ever fished knows how well they work out of water when you bring one into the boat. I suppose this means that some day hippos will develop fins, since they spend more of their lives in water than out of it.

Darwin rarely defended his views in public. Apparently he had a gentleman named Thomas Huxley who defended his positions for him. All this tells me is that the argument has been nasty since the beginning and from the evidence I’ve seen, it’s not getting any nicer. But even Huxley had problems with Darwins’ theory. He didn’t subscribe to Darwins’ idea that things happened gradually over time, but that species could make leaps in change, or saltations, giant leaps in evolutionary change. This seems to make a little more sense. I mean, that fish without fins is gonna have a helluva time in the water and the one with fins is gonna have a helluva time on land! But if one was born without fins right off the bat, he or she would have that capability to walk up the beach and start living a dry life right off the bat.

But it would seem that even Sir Charles was a little confused by the whole thing. He once said, "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree." So, even Darwin questioned his own theory.

Now, let’s look at the idea of Intelligent Design. According to the website intelligentdesignnetwork.org, the theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.

It’s a pretty wordy way of saying that evolution didn’t happen by accident. The question then becomes, why do so many people get so heated over this opinion? Why is it so impossible to believe that we, like Horton’s Who’s, are just some little world buried in a dandelion? A Petri dish experiment or some alien kids ant farm?

It seems to me that ID’s main purpose in life is to try to “explain” those things about us that are unexplainable. Why are we the only creatures on the planet that are self aware? On the website called actionbioscience.org, there are three very interesting point counterpoint type articles that make the arguments for and against both theories. The thing I find very interesting is that all the arguments for ID are very strongly argued against, but there always seems to be a statement along the lines of this… Can’t he see past the example to the principle? That the first demonstration of a powerful genetic mechanism happened to be a nonflying fly is irrelevant. What is a powerful genetic mechanism? Why can’t it be ID? Or a statement like this… variations that appear to be the result of…How scientific is the term appears to be the result of?

As a result of the little bit of research I did to write this little piece I think I’m more confused than ever. I’m pretty convinced that evolution has a lot to do with who and what we are in the grand scheme of things. But another part of me really wants to believe that there really is a grand scheme to this whole thing we call life. That it isn’t all just one big accident.

I’ve come a long way since my days in Sisters Mary’s science class. A place where they never attempted to reconcile the differences between Darwin’s theory and that first book in the bible. I’d imagine there’s a good reason they never tried…it just can’t be done.

And as far as why people get so nasty about the discussion, all I can figure out is that both sides are convinced that the other side is completely wrong and completely foolish for believing what they believe. Personally, I'm gonna take a little bit of both. I say they're both right. I believe Sir Charles probably would have agreed with me.
 
Comments:
I definitely believe in a Higher Being, thus there are things we just don't have answers to....and that's OK. I think there are aspects to evolution that are factual, but the entire thing? Not so much. We are created in the image of our God, not something else.

Another one of those controversial issues.
 
I just don't see why it's so hard to accept a Higher Power -- and the creation of the universe as "intelligent design" -- while still believing in evolution.
Intelligent design does NOT suggest that the world is only thousands of years old, that the earth is flat and that mankind once co-existed with the dinosaurs. It simply stipulates that the universe, and the Earth and all life on it in particular, did not come about by pure chance. It was not some random happening.
Why is accepting that there's a Higher Power so frightening for some people? I find the lack of a purposeful, intelligent design scary.
 
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