Creationism Vs Evolution Vs Intelligent Design? Lets Solve this!

Posted on August 26, 2012

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Creationism-vs-Evolution Vs ID

THE CHALLENGE

Can we clearly and politely determine which or which combination of these three theories should be taught in a Science class and why some theories would not belong?

It think it’s time someone addressed this topic rationally and maturely,  and explained why Creationism and Intelligent Design don’t belong in Science classes. Until someone responsible does that, I’ll take a crack at it. :)

Before I open this post for discussion I think it’s important to define these terms – so we are on the same general pages. I will also set a few ground rules for participants (I’d appreciate if everyone would follow. Feel free to call me on it if i don’t.)

For starters, one-liners are probably not an adequate response to most questions. I feel the rhetoric, oversimplification of some details and overcomplicating or mixing of concepts and positions may be hampering a rational and dispassionate discussion. Understandably, since this is a topic many people rightly feel passionately about, but hurt feelings and lack of mutual understanding and respect could be much of the cause for polarization on this topic.

My Confession:

When I first learned that there were people who believed in the Creationist view I was incredulous and mocked people that think this way. I still do to some extent out of frustration as much as anything else. I’d been raised in the Christian faith, and never had an inkling of an idea from my parents or pastors that they felt the Bible was to be taken 100% literally. Over time I was exposed to more and more people who indicated they felt the way about evolution, that i felt about creationists, that they were deluded fools, and not that numerous. They probably felt I was a heathen blasphemer, or deluding myself as well. Neither stance is very helpful for neither understanding the other’s POV nor resolving the impasse.

For this post I flirted with the idea originally of asking people to state their opinion and the to proceed to argue the other side, but that struck me as a bit gimmicky – perhaps an interesting exercise for another topic and day, for something less profound. It seemed like that might be a little too disingenuous and discouraging for some folks, and i really think there are some basic questions that can reasonably be addressed and answered without the need for ridiculing the other side. So for that reason, despite my own personal inclinations and history and overall tone of my blog, i would ask that anyone participate try to refrain from name calling or judging each other as ignorant, godless, etc. This has become a political topic in wider society, when really I think the whole disagreement thing is silly . . . but i don’t want to reveal more of my stance until we begin so i shall stop there for now.

I would also like to discuss scope for a moment. For today i don’t want to address the question of whether we were founded as a Christian nation, or whether it would be good for kids to be given a religious foundation or moral code in school. We are talking about a public school Science class and which of these topics belong there, in that setting and context.

I think it would be easiest if we address points individually as questions, and attempted to answer specific questions to an acceptable solution and then updated this blog based on what can be agreed upon.  Any objections?

Questions can be posed by either side, but try to keep them constrained to the belief and the context we are discussing. . . .Let’s untangle one knot at a time please. (if another blogger/commenter makes a good point that counters I previously settled/agreed upon answer i have no problem revising it as open again to discussion or pending new resolution or approval.)

Also note there are subtle differences between creationism and intelligent design and so it might be best if you are defending one of those, you state which one if it’s not obvious.

Now in the beginning. . .

Creationism (from Wikipedia) is the religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic God. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Abrahamic creation narrative. At this time those holding that species had been separately created (such as Philip Gosse in 1847) were generally called “advocates of creation” but they were occasionally called “creationists” in private correspondence between Charles Darwin and his friends. As the creation–evolution controversy developed, the term “anti-evolutionists” became more common, then in 1929 in the United States the term “creationism” first became specifically associated with Christian fundamentalist disbelief in human evolution and belief in a young Earth, though its usage was contested by other groups, such as theistic evolutionists, who believed in various concepts of creation.

Today, the American Scientific Affiliation and the UK-based Christians in Science recognize that there are different opinions among creationists on the method of creation, while acknowledging unity on the Abrahamic belief that God “created the universe.” Since the 1920s, Abrahamic creationism in America has contested scientific theories, such as that of evolution, which derive from natural observations of the universe and life. Literalist creationists believe that evolution cannot adequately account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on Earth. Fundamentalist creationists of the Christian faith usually base their belief on a literal reading of the Genesis creation narrative.Other religions have different deity-led creation myths, while different members of individual faiths vary in their acceptance of scientific findings.

When scientific research produces empirical evidence and theoretical conclusions which contradict a literalist creationist interpretation of scripture, young earth creationists often reject the conclusions of the research or its underlying scientific theories or its methodology.The rejection of scientific findings has sparked political and theological controversy. Two offshoots of creationism—creation science and intelligent design—have been characterized as pseudoscience by the mainstream scientific community. The most notable disputes concern the evolution of living organisms, the idea of common descent, the geological history of the Earth, the formation of the solar system and the origin of the universe. However, the beliefs of evolutionary creationism (theistic evolution), a form of old earth creationism, embrace the findings of modern science and uphold classical religious teachings about God and creation.

If anyone would care to supply a better definition for US creationists specifically i would be happy to replace or add that description here.

My interpretation of Creationism:

Creationists believe God created man as outlined in the book of Genesis and woman from the rib of man – and made them the overlords of Earth and all her creatures. He also created the Earth in 6 days (as we perceive them.) Creationists believe the Bible is the entire history of mankind, and infallible. They believe that where the bible describes people living hundreds of years – these units of time are the same as our years, and that a timeline can roughly be built from passages and chronology in the bible. Before man there was no significant amount of time except a few days. The earth may be only 10,000 years old to Fundamentalist Christian creationist world view.

Evolution

Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations across successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.

Life on Earth originated and then evolved from a universal common ancestor approximately 3.7 billion years ago. Repeated speciation and the divergence of life can be inferred from shared sets of biochemical and morphological traits, or by shared DNA sequences. These homologous traits and sequences are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used to reconstruct evolutionary histories, using both existing species and the fossil record. Existing patterns of biodiversity have been shaped both by speciation and by extinction.

Charles Darwin was the first to formulate a scientific argument for the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. Evolution by natural selection is a process that is inferred from three facts about populations: 1) more offspring are produced than can possibly survive, 2) traits vary among individuals, leading to differential rates of survival and reproduction, and 3) trait differences are heritable. Thus, when members of a population die they are replaced by the progeny of parents that were better adapted to survive and reproduce in the environment in which natural selection took place. This process creates and preserves traits that are seemingly fitted for the functional roles they perform. Natural selection is the only known cause of adaptation, but not the only known cause of evolution. Other, nonadaptive causes of evolution include mutation and genetic drift.

In the early 20th century, genetics was integrated with Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection through the discipline of population genetics. The importance of natural selection as a cause of evolution was accepted into other branches of biology. Moreover, previously held notions about evolution, such as orthogenesis and “progress” became obsolete. Scientists continue to study various aspects of evolution by forming and testing hypotheses, constructing scientific theories, using observational data, and performing experiments in both the field and the laboratory. Biologists agree that descent with modification is one of the most reliably established facts in science. Discoveries in evolutionary biology have made a significant impact not just within the traditional branches of biology, but also in other academic disciplines (e.g., anthropology and psychology) and on society at large.

My summary of salient evolution points:

The earth is around 5 billion years old. Life began a few billion years ago. It started out as microscopic organisms that joined together and became more complex and specialized over time. These simple organisms became progressively more complex until they became what we recognize as plants and animals today. The theory of evolution is that all life “evolved” from other forms of life through mutation, genetic drift and natural selection (the strong or more specifically the organism more capable of surviving long enough to pass its genetic code onto the next generation and create lots of progeny is selected by the environment while less capable variants of organisms and traits become extinct.) This theory is observable through fossil records for many long lived organisms and can be observed in nature in bacterial examples, fruit flies, and domesticated animals which are “bred” to emphasize specific traits or to deemphasize others.) Dogs, cows, farm crops, flowers, cats, etc are all examples of controlled/applied evolution at work.) Fossil records can be chronologically organized based on carbon dating. Carbon has a calculable half-life (a half-life being the time for half of the carbon C14 to break down to more stable C12) Carbon dating is a method by which a formerly living creature’s age can be determined.

Intelligent Design

Intelligent design (ID) is a form of creationism promulgated by the Discovery Institute. The Institute defines it as the proposition that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” It is a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God, presented by its advocates as “an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins” rather than “a religious-based idea”. The leading proponents of intelligent design are associated with the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank, and believe the designer to be the Christian deity.

ID seeks to redefine science in a fundamental way that would invoke supernatural explanations, an approach its proponents describe as theistic realism or theistic science. It puts forward a number of arguments, the most prominent of which are irreducible complexity and specified complexity, in support of the existence of a designer.The scientific community rejects the extension of science to include supernatural explanations in favor of continued acceptance of methodological naturalism, and has rejected both irreducible complexity and specified complexity for a wide range of conceptual and factual flaws. The vast majority of the scientific community labels intelligent design as pseudoscience and identifies it as a religious, rather than scientific, viewpoint. It is rejected by mainstream science because it lacks empirical support, supplies no tentative hypotheses, and resolves to describe natural history in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural causes.

Intelligent design was developed by a group of American creationists who revised their argument in the creation–evolution controversy to circumvent court rulings such as the United States Supreme Court Edwards v. Aguillard ruling, which barred the teaching of “Creation Science” in public schools as breaching the separation of church and state. The first publication of the phrase “intelligent design” in its present use as an alternative term for creationism was in Of Pandas and People, a 1989 textbook intended for high-school biology classes. From the mid-1990s, intelligent design proponents were supported by the Discovery Institute, which, together with its Center for Science and Culture, planned and funded the “intelligent design movement”. They advocated inclusion of intelligent design in public school biology curricula, leading to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, where U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design is not science, that it “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents”, and that the school district’s promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[17

My Summary of Intelligent Design

Life is so infinitely complex that to attribute a random cause to the existence of life is to deny or overlook an obvious explanation, that a supreme being with infinite power created life and designed the complexities of life in ways we will never fully understand. Because an infinitely powerful being could have created all things, and because you cannot disprove the existence of such a being empirically, you cannot rule out such a hypothesis. If you cannot rule it out, than this explanation could be as valid as any other explanation such as evolution. Therefore you should be able to teach ID as a valid theory for how life and universe was created. So many people in this country believe in a form of ID, that to overlook it would be something akin to supporting a Atheism, which has been recognized as a religion by the Supreme Court, or a disbelief in God.

Defintion of Science

Science (from Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning (found, for example, in Aristotle), “science” refers to the body of reliable knowledge itself, of the type that can be logically and rationally explained

Definition of Scientic Theory

A scientific theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.”Scientists create scientific theories from hypotheses that have been corroborated through the scientific method, then gather evidence to test their accuracy. As with all forms of scientific knowledge, scientific theories are inductive in nature and do not make apodictic propositions; instead, they aim for predictive and explanatory force.

The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain, which is measured by its ability to make falsifiable predictions with respect to those phenomena. Theories are improved as more evidence is gathered, so that accuracy in prediction improves over time. Scientists use theories as a foundation to gain further scientific knowledge, as well as to accomplish goals such as inventing technology or curing disease.

Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge. This is significantly different from the word “theory” in common usage, which implies that something is unproven or speculative.

Scope clarification

Since we are discussing teaching all of these subjects in a “Science” class and not a theology class, it makes sense to me that the evidence for teaching a theory must rise to the “scientific theory” level. If anyone objects to this clarification we probably need to start here for purposes of resolving this discussion.