Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My View on Biological ID

For a couple of reasons, including a comment by Benji in the post below, I thought I would make clear my views on biological Intelligent Design—or what usually gets to go by the simple “ID” moniker.

The truth is I am somewhat ambivalent about the evolution vs. ID debate.

I freely admit that I have only gut feelings with absolutely no scientific expertise in the field of (biological) ID or evolutionary biology. That said, I think irreducible complexity, as I understand it, is interesting, worth studying, and worthy of discussion. I do not know if the examples given (e.g., the bacterial flagellum) truly represent discontinuities in the sense that there are no plausible evolutionary pathways postulated—either now or ever. I simply don’t know—although I would be nervous about staking my reputation on the claim that you’ll never be able to explain this.

So, I am more or less a lurker in the debate. I root for team Behe, but I have nothing to say or contribute.

In terms of the work of Bill Dembski, I have even less to say, and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way—not in the least. Again, I am working from gut feelings. I have never read his theories. There are many theories that I have never bothered to learn simply from lack of interest. It has been my, once again, gut instinct that it is doubtful that one could construct a rigorous mathematics that could reliably detect design—with little or no false positives or negatives. Perhaps I am wrong—but not being interested in evolution, I have never felt motivated to dig into the details of either Professor Behe’s or Professor Dembski’s work—even though I appreciate their efforts.

As for evolution—as I said I am ambivalent. I have written before that I think theistic evolution—in which God intervened as necessary to ensure His sovereign plan was not thwarted, is an acceptable option for a Christian. In this view, in some manner, God specially created Adam and Eve—they were truly and historically the first humans. This form of theistic evolution, I have argued in the past—is in fact a type of ID—it has God designing through genetic engineering.

Am I a theistic evolutionist or a “classic” IDer? I really couldn’t say.

I do have the following opinion. I think the big money issue is not evolution but abiogenesis. I strongly support research into the origins of life, and am confident that it will continue to befuddle our best efforts. Compared to the question of how life arose in such a short time, evolution is, to me, boring bookkeeping.

As for the schools, teach evolution. Even if you believe evolution is wrong, the next generation needs to understand it if only to be in position to refute it.

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