Intelligent Design—Debating it and the Avoidance Thereof

            As you can tell from the title, this week I’ve written about the Intelligent Design movement.  The good news is I’m writing about this as a scientist; the bad news is I’m not that kind of scientist.  In fact I still have nightmares about my college biology classes.  Literally.  I’m 41 years old, and once or twice a year I still dream I’m back in college and a big biology exam is coming up.  In the dream I feel ill-prepared because I haven’t been attending class (for 20 years now).  I almost shudder just thinking about it.  Oh, I wish I were kidding.

Anyway I’m a social scientist, a historian by trade and training.  Consequently, when learned experts begin weighing in on the complexities of the universe I’m frequently clueless.  But I am intrigued by what those in the ID camp are doing.  Their basic argument is that the universe is an incredibly complex set of systems.  The life that exists on our planet is only capable of being here because of an astronomically unique set of circumstances.  Just a few variations here or there would have precluded life altogether.  Ergo, the ID people say, such a situation must be the result of the actions of a creator of some sort.

This line of reasoning seems to pass the common sense test.  I’m only wearing socks today because that was a part of my design for avoiding stinky feet.  The socks did not get on my feet by accident.  It occurs to me that the unique brain chemistry of, say, a chimpanzee is way more complex than the arrangement of socks on my feet, so why would we believe that the chimp’s brain developed by random chance?  Isn’t there a Law of Entropy that says time and random chance do not lead to greater complexity and order, but rather they lead to the breakdown of order?  For an example of this, just look in your garage.  Does it naturally get more organized over time?

One of the more interesting things to me about this Intelligent Design debate is that those who are against it don’t seem to want to actually debate it.  I keep reading stories of professors being driven out of university jobs because they have written in support of ID or talked about it in their classes, which are supposedly a marketplace for ideas.

I read a story that a judge ruled against the teaching of ID in area schools because he felt it was a Trojan Horse for getting religion into the classrooms.  So we’ve gone from being a nation where people used the Bible to teach English, to saying that religion can’t be covered in school (which is still up for debate), to saying that we can’t talk about scientists’ theories that might make students think about religion?  Who declared war on religion in this country, and where can I get a tee shirt saying I’m on the other side?

A prominent atheist said in an interview a while back that there is no design in the universe, it just seems that way.  Of course, since he can’t prove there’s no design, he was making a faith-based statement. 

If the ID movement is not good science, why don’t their opponents enter into the debate everywhere possible and expose it?