As of today, it became a commonplace practice among many supposedly ‘progressive’ politicians/social figures in the West to suggest that the so-called Theory of Intelligent Design should be taught in schools, colleges, and universities, along with the Theory of Evolution (Reiss 407). This suggestion is based upon the assumption that the Theory of Intelligent Design is being thoroughly legitimate, in the scientific sense of this word. The assumption’s fallaciousness, however, is quite apparent, because, instead of seeking to explain the sheer complexity of the surrounding reality’s emanations, the proponents of the latter indulge in nothing short of a ‘scientific escapism’, while simply stating that the earlier mentioned complexity is the part of the ‘God’s design’. In this respect, I find the quotation by Richard Dawkins especially enlightening, as it does reveal the foremost inconsistency of Creationism/Intelligent Design Theory: “In intelligent design (theory), the chain of designers can be followed back indefinitely in an infinite regression, leaving the question of the creation of the first designer dangling. As a result, intelligent design does not explain how the complexity happened in the first place; it just moves it or assumes its existence” (12). In my paper, I will aim to substantiate the validity of this point of view on the subject matter at length, while showing why contrary to what religious people/’creationists’ believe, there is no rationale in thinking that the surrounding reality’s complexity reflects the existence of a certain ‘designer’.
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The Intelligent Design Theory’s foremost conceptual premise is that there are just too many phenomenological subtleties to organic life, for us to believe that its emergence was purely accidental. As Tracy, Hart, and Martens pointed out: “IDT (Intelligent Design Theory) proposes that naturalistic accounts are insufficient to explain complex organic phenomena and that therefore an intelligent and presumably supernatural ‘designer’ is responsible for the origin of all life” (2). This suggestion, however, cannot possibly be referred to as such that represents an undisputed truth-value. This is because, as today’s physicists and biologists are being well aware of, the physical matter tends to self-organize itself, without the involvement of any ‘third party’, whatsoever – regardless of whether this matter happened to be organic or non-organic.
The first scientist, who came up with the earlier mentioned idea was Alan Turing – the founder of the theory of chemical morphogenesis. According to him: “(Chaos) although it may originally be quite homogeneous, may later develop a pattern or structure due to an instability of the homogeneous equilibrium, which is triggered off by random disturbances” (Turing 37). As Turing used to point out, the grains of sand in the desert do self-organize themselves into ripples, waves, and dunes. This is despite the fact these grains do not know the shape they become a part of. Chemicals that seep across an embryo, act in essentially the same manner – hence, the seeming ‘intelligent design’ of organic life-forms.
Richard Dawkins made another important contribution towards our understanding of life, as the ‘unsupervised’ process of organic matter growing increasingly complex on its own, while exposing the origins of life, as such that relate to the notions of a blind chance, rather than to the notion of design: “Sometimes when atoms meet they link up together in chemical reaction to form molecules, which may be more or less stable… At some point, a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident. We will call it the Replicator… it had the extraordinary property of being able to create copies of itself” (15). What Dawkins did was proving that it is namely the molecule’s ability to self-replicate, which can be well considered, as the indication of it being ‘alive’, and that this ability (although technically accidental), was predetermined by the earlier mention process of the universe’s matter attaining ever-higher levels of complexity. In its turn, this process is ‘fueled’ by the continual interplay between the blind forces of gravity and electromagnetism, on the one hand, and strong and weak nuclear interactions, on the other. It is needless to mention, of course, that this leaves no room for an ‘intelligent designer’ of any sort.
The sheer erroneousness of the Theory of Intelligent Design can also be illustrated in regards to the so-called ‘principle of uncertainty’, discovered in 1927 by Werner Heisenberg. According to this principle, we can’t be simultaneously aware of the elementary particle’s location and its speed. This is because the principle’s formula suggests that, once we are being aware of the independent variable of the particle’s location, the dependent variable of its speed would be projected into infinity, and vice versa (Heelan 125). What it means is that the reason why we cannot possess complete information about the concerned particle (its speed and location) is not that there is insufficiency to the methodology of how we go about extracting the actual data, but that there is no such information in a priori. In its turn, this implies that the universe’s workings are unpredictable because the universe itself is composed out of thoroughly unpredictable ‘bricks’ – atoms. Heisenberg’s principle implies that micro-changes in the physical matter lead to macro-consequences in this matter’s ‘behavior’. As Dong noted: “Systems science indicates that complex systems are sensitive to initial conditions, a phenomenon named the ‘butterfly effect’” (464). In its turn, this suggests that, contrary to the Theory of Intelligent Design’s main theoretical provision, the universe is not fatal (designed), because, despite the seeming complexity of the reality’s observable emanations, they never cease being fundamentally chaotic. In other words, the very fundamental workings of the universe, defy the possibility for such an ‘intelligent designer’ to have existed.
While understanding perfectly well that the line of their argumentation, in regards to the assumed intelligent design of the universe does not stand any scientific ground, the advocates of the Intelligent Design Theory nevertheless continue to speculate that there must have been a ‘higher force’ behind the universe’s actual birth. While doing it, they commonly refer to the so-called Big Bang Theory (or the Theory of Expanding Universe), as such that indirectly points out to the universe’s ‘intelligent’ origin. After all, once we assume that the universe came into being 13.7 billion years ago; our common logic tells us that there should have been something that had set objective preconditions for this to happen, in the first place. In light of recent discoveries in the field of physics (specifically, quantum mechanics), this assumption also appears rather fallacious.
This is because, even though, as recently as thirty years ago, the concept of vacuum used to be considered synonymous with the notion of nothingness/emptiness, it is no longer the case. Nowadays, physicists prefer to refer to vacuum as the ‘continuum of virtual particles’, which implies that nothingness is a ‘soup’ of fluctuating virtual (therefore, not-detected) quarks/atoms. The elements’ ‘virtualness’ implies the possibility for their mass to be infinite – just as it happened to be the case inside the point of singularity. In turn, the point of singularity is where the observable universe has emerged, due to the Big Bang. What it means is that the universe originated out of nothing – in the literal sense of this word and that there were no outside causes for this to take place. There is one more aspect to it – there could not possibly have been any time, beyond the point of singularity, which serves as the additional proof to the fact that there was no any ‘intelligent designer’, beyond this point.
Therefore, we have no other option but subscribe to Dawkins’s suggestion that there is no reason to believe that the Theory of Intelligent Design is scientifically legitimate because its methodology is arrogant: “They (the proponents of intelligent design) contradict a fundamental assumption of intelligent design: that design requires a designer and reduce intelligent design to religious creationism” (12). Those who believe in the soundness of the ‘intelligent design’ theory never heard of the principle of Occam’s razor – a particular phenomenon in question does not require complex explanations, for as long as there are simple ones available (Riesch 76). There is no need to refer to God/’intelligent designer’, as the mean of explaining the university’s complexity, simply because this complexity can be well explained without the earlier mentioned reference being made.
I believe the deployed line of argumentation, in defense of the validity of Dawkins’ quotation, fully correlates with the paper’s initial thesis.
Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print.
Dong, Chunyu. “Intelligent Design from the Viewpoint of Complex Systems.” Theory Frontiers of Philosophy in China 5. 3 (2010): 461-470. Print.
Heelan, Patrick. “Heisenberg and Radical Theoretic Change.” Zeitschrift fur Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie / Journal for General Philosophy of Science 6.1 (1975): 113-136. Print.
Reiss, Michael. “How Should Creationism and Intelligent Design be dealt with in the Classroom?” Journal of Philosophy of Education 45.3 (2011): 399-415. Print.
Riesch, Hauske. “Simple or Simplistic? Scientists’ Views on Occam’s Razor.” Theoria 25.1(2010): 75-90. Print.
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Tracy, Jessica, Joshua Hart and Jason Martens. “Death and Science: The Existential Underpinnings of Belief in Intelligent Design and Discomfort with Evolution.” PLoS ONE 6.3 (2011): 1-13. Print.
Turing, Alan. “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 237.641 (1952): 37-72. Print.
World Religions WGS. Philosophy 105. Final Examination.