Competitive Origins World Views

2006 Feb 9

Christians have a world view that includes allegiance to a Creator. They are a subset of those people who have a world view that our physical reality was designed. Those in the Intelligent Design (ID) group think this way because the world shows the hallmarks of good design: durable, adaptive and complex systems working in harmony.

Darwin imagined a way that complex organisms could be "designed" without a designer. He did so because he desired a world without responsibility to a designer and needed a way to make it rational. So because of his prejudiced world view, he conceived a theory to validate it.

Darwin was not the first one with this idea. He was just the first one to bring it all together at a point of critical mass.

Darwin observed biological systems, interpreted the meaning of his observations, proposed a hypothesis and organized the data within the structure of that hypothesis. As always in scientific study, the available data did not completely fill out the structure, so Darwin made predictions about the content of data that would be found. He then published his results in a manner that received general acceptance. In all this description, he was acting as a scientist does.

The intelligent design proponents observe biological systems, interpret the meaning of those observations, propose their hypothesis and organize the data within that hypothesis. The structure makes predictions about data to be discovered. They publish their results for acceptance by their peers. In all this, they also are acting as scientists.

The difference between the two is in the interpretation of observations, the hypothesis and the predictions. Both hypotheses are models of the real world. And all models are imperfect because they simplify reality. They fail by either not organizing the data quite right or by making predictions with too much error.

  • An immediate question: Is either one valid science?
  • The underlying question: How much error can be accepted from a model for it still to be scientific?
  • A correlating philosophical question is: Are certain world views scientifically unacceptable, and why?

Both Darwinism & ID are real science, but not to the extent of a hard science such as physics. Neither Darwinism nor ID can be reproduced. By necessity, they are a study of past events. No human observed the origins of our kind. But each model organizes a set of observed data and makes predictions about further data. So yes, they are both a science.

If you would contest ID, and claim that only Darwinianism is science, then what about Gregor Mendel (the discoverer of genetic heredity) who was a Catholic monk? What about George Washington Carver (discoverer of excess of 300 uses for peanuts) who was a committed Christian? What about all the biologists before Darwin who worked within an ID world view? What about notable scientists currently working from a ID world view? Do not other sciences have competing models? And is not the scientific way "May the best theory win!" instead of summary (character) assassination?

The errors that come out of scientific models sometimes are there only because the model needs tinkering to make it be better. At other times it is because the model is fundamentally wrong. The true scientist looks to the question of which is the best model. And believe me, that question is very enthralling in the context of these two theories! I think there is an answer, but it can be difficult to accept.

Finally, it is obvious to me that the current contest is heated because of a struggle for world view dominance. I have read and heard many public statements dismissing ID. Usually they are made simply on their own force and do not even marshall any evidence, let alone convincing evidence. This indicates motivation from a prejudiced world view, not for reasons of science. The Darwinianists are effectively promoting a new religion of Darwinianism in which they are the highest being. As such, they are free of the authority of any outside god. Even though they may deny it, they are religiously motivated!

On the other hand in my experience regarding ID, apologetics for it and the arguments against Darwinian origins have largely been evidence-based. The evidence I have seen is reasonable and convincing. In addition these pro-ID discussions usually include honest acknowledgment and exploration of the world views behind each of these orientations.

In this context then: Who is in the right; who is in the wrong? The proponents of both ID and Darwin ask for a hearing. What should be the response of an ideal scientist and an honest human?