3 November 2004
More about the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM)
When I was in Denmark, Lalitanatha Prabhu loaned me two books by William A. Demski, a mathematician, author and a leader of the Discovery Institute. Lalitanatha has met Dembski personally; hence the books are autographed by the author. The titles are The Design Revolution--Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design (2004) which is written by Dembski, and Uncommon Dissent--Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing (2004), which he edited and wrote an introduction for.
I've given both books a cover-to-cover skim. And yesterday I picked up the magazine Wired which I mentioned already (I called it a science magazine, but it may be more accurate to call it a pop computer tech magazine). As you know from reading yesterday's journal, Wired for October features an article on ID. Titled "The Plot to Kill Evolution", it isn't without bias. A header in the article shouts, SOME PEOPLE DENY THE HOLOCAUST, BUT WE DON'T TEACH THAT IN HISTORY. This is how evolutionists decry the recent inroads that the IDM has made into some American schools. The IDM's strategy is to keep pushing the fact that Darwin knew nothing about the incredible complexity of the microscopic structures of cellular tissue; and then argue that it is therefore time that schools also teach ID, because it addresses this gap. Evolutionists, the IDM maintains, are programmed by their theory to ignore or wave away the overwhelming evidence of high design at the cellular level. The evolutionists retort by comparing the IDM to holocaust-deniers--people who don't believe the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews in the 2nd World War. In a similar cranky, myopic way, the IDM denies evolution. Evolutionists maintain that nobody teaches in history class that "some say it is not true that 6 million died in the camps. " Why should biology class be a place where students have to hear that maybe evolution isn't true?
Well, the answer to that question is pretty simple, but the evolutionists don't get it. The people on the school boards who plan curriculum are not convinced by Darwinian arguments that the case for evolution is as open-and-shut as the case for the Holocaust. And the evolutionists' own brand of dogmatism--in which they see the threat of fundamentalist religion behind every doubt in Darwin--hasn't helped their cause.
Uncommon Dissent takes the reader into the smoke and fire of this fray. We learn that evolutionist Daniel Dennet, author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea, looks forward to the day when religious believers will be kept in zoos to provide entertainment for "normal" (read: atheistic) people. Professor William Provine of Cornell University campaigns to persuade the public that it is high time to choose between Darwin and God (or science and superstition); and if it chooses Darwin, then the public must at last accept that there is no free will nor objective morality.
The IDM takes pains to distinguish itself from Creation Science, an anti-evolution movement that attempts to prove by scientific means the literal Biblical account of creation. IDMers on the contrary do not argue from scripture. They stick to demonstrations in nature of intelligent design, particularly at fundamental levels where Darwinian orthodoxy holds that things must be less evolved and thus more simple. IDMers don't argue that evidence for intelligent design must mean that God exists. Obviously, though, students who learn to see design in nature are likely to come to this conclusion.
That's why the evolutionists feel so threatened by IDM. They say schools should teach real science. . . but by that they mean that in real science there is no room for God anywhere at all. Funny thing, as Dembski explains in The Design Revolution, even some Christian theologians are anti-IDM. These are the theologians who have adapted evolution to belief in God. Their God is, of course, the stripped-down Deistic version, who is utterly uninvolved with the world except to give the first push.
Anyway, evolutionists portray the IDM's silence on God as just a cunning strategy (which I am sure, in a way, it is). It's all PR, the Darwinists fume: "when science education is decided by charm and stage presence, the Discovery Institute wins. " (Wired, pg. 203).
Turning back to Scientific American for September, which I wrote about yesterday, there's an article on page 24 that I believe explains the real reason why people in general are still skeptical of evolution and thus open to the IDM appeal. It's called "Mustangs, Monists and Meaning" by Micheal Shermer. Shermer admits that we are all natural-born dualists. (He means that we all naturally distinguish between "my body" and "I", or between matter and consciousness. ) Religion is likewise dualistic. Science, however, is monistic--it aspires to reduce all experience down to one ultimate fact: matter. Shermer writes that the problem is, the brain doesn't perceive itself. Consciousness comes from the brain, but since the brain doesn't know that, we think consciousness is different from matter. Consequently everyone is in illusion. And therefore religion still holds sway over much of the population, making the work of science so much harder.
Shermer's scientism is Mayavadi materialism. It's a lot like Buddhist philosophy. There's no God, no soul, only matter (maya). Problem is, there's really no way to know that directly, since if we experienced ourselves as matter-only, then we would be devoid of consciousness. It would be an experience of nothingness, or no experience at all. Shermer hopes that soon science will generate consciousness from silicon chips. That would be indirect proof that we are only matter.
Taking this into account, it becomes clearer why evolutionists are not interested in the evidence the IDM offers that life is designed. The notion of design is merely a phantasm arisen from the illusion of consciousness. IDMers are simply reading their own subjective maya into nature, which is blind and unknowing and works by chance, not by plan.
Well, Mike, materialist scientists are also using consciousness and intelligence to argue that ultimate reality is unconscious and unintelligent. Hence your standpoint is self-refuting, as George Gilder points out (quoted in yesterday's In2-Mec). Shermer offers the germ of a reply.
If this is all there is, then every moment, every relationship and every person counts--and counts more if there is no tomorrow than if there is.
That's awfully mystical, Mikey! You're saying that since our life is so very fleeting and temporary, it becomes more real than it would be if it was eternal. Taking the implication of your words further, you're hinting that by acknowledging ourselves to be just insentient, unknowing lumps of ignorance, our knowledge (i. e. science) becomes more meaningful and valuable than knowledge would be if we were actually non-material beings of pure consciousness.