BOTH SIDES NOW?
There's a phrase we've been hearing a lot lately with regard to the controversy
over teaching Creationism in public schools. It comes almost as a last-ditch plea
from those who realize that straight-out Biblical Creationism has been barred
from the science classroom as religious doctrine, not science. I'm referring,
of course, to "Teach the controversy." The idea behind this phrase is that there is
an alternative to the notion of common descent of living organisms, and that the
entire science of evolution has serious failings recognized by many scientists
in this field of biology.
Is there a significant number of scientists who find evolutionary science
unworkable and in need of replacement? Do these scientists agree that the
problems with evolutionary theory, so frequently cited by Creationists, render
that theory useless? Is "Intelligent Design" a viable scientific alternative? Let's consider a few points:
- Judging by published reports, scientists are engaged in vigorous and
fruitful research that continues to advance our knowledge of evolutionary processes. I
see more such articles every week--an indication that evolutionary science is doing quite well.
- A number of the alleged problems do not deal with evolution directly,
but involve other aspects of biology as well as geology, physics, and chemistry. In some cases,
newer technology provides means to overcome the problems. In other cases, additional evidence
comes from newly-discovered fossils, computer models, or biomolecular investigations. Evolutionary
theory is strengthened by these advances.
- Proponents of Intelligent Design believe (incorrectly) that their arguments conclusively
disprove common descent, and they claim that their "theory" is therefore the correct, indeed the only,
alternative. Even if evolutionary theory were found to be completely wrong, it does not
follow that (1)Intelligent Design is a well-reasoned, scientific theory, and (2) that it is
the only other scientific explanation. As noted by many others, there is
no real science behind Intelligent Design. It offers nothing to improve our understanding of the
natural world, and it explains nothing. How can one scientifically investigate the identity of the
designer, its motives, and its means? Intelligent Design Creationism is only one of many
"alternatives" that are based primarily on cultural perceptions handed down, viz., religious mythos.