Darwinism vs Intelligent Design


I want to start by saying that I know just enough about both Darwin’s theory of evolution and Intelligent Design to get myself in trouble. I’m hoping that my ideas and comparisons of the two will kick-start a discussion here.

What I know about Darwin’s theory: Charles Darwin, after visiting the Galapagos Islands, theorized that animals changed over long periods of time through what he termed “natural selection”. Natural selection, as I understand it, is that a dominant trait is sustained and reproduced over time while non-dominant traits like a vestigial tail, slowly cease to be because it is no longer needed. Other scientists took this theory and ran with it extending it to ALL living creatures.

What I know about Intelligent Design: From watching Ben Stein’s documentary I came to the conclusion that Intelligent Design is an offshoot or step up from creationism. Creationism states that the Judaeo-Christian god created the earth and everything on it in seven calendar days. Intelligent Design theorizes that everything is so very complex that there must be some intelligent designer or architect that either started it all or designed it. Whether that designer is god or something else, no one will say. Apparently if it’s not god it’s “something”.

Intelligent design is a bit vague. It also doesn’t seem to show a great deal of testable evidence to support the theory that “something” created the world and all life on it. I did once hear that fossils were put here to test our faith and give us something to think about but no dinosaurs actually existed.

As for Darwinism, I understand that the theory is considered flawed. In what respect, I am not educated enough about it to really understand. I do know that Darwinism is a jumping off point for the theory of evolution that we have today. In fact, evolution is so widely accepted that it is no longer called a theory.

I think I understand where the ID people get stuck. They seem to think that because Darwin’s theory might have been flawed, the entire idea of evolution is either wrong. It’s a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water in my opinion. With that in mind they get bogged down with the idea that other scientists have refined Darwin’s ideas and evolved them, for want of a better term, into what we know as evolution today.

I think where evolutionists get bogged down is that the idea of intelligent design goes against how scientists are trained to think. Since ID people believe that complexity = a designer, scientists hear, ” Correlation MUST equal causation!”. Which is the total opposite of a scientific method. So occasionally you get some very frustrated people whose head just explodes.

ID people are seeking to put order to chaos. The idea that everything was just a great big happy accident IS downright frightening for some. They’re trying to make sense of things that sometimes are just beyond our comprehension at this point in human development. Humans have an overdeveloped sense of pattern recognition. It served us well in much earlier times but now we see things like the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s human nature.

What are your thoughts? Is there a compromise? How would it work?

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6 Comments

  1. Jason said,

    February 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    You need to go back and watched Expelled again and _pay attention_ this time. Your understanding of ID, and of “creationism” is pathetic. You claim to be a skeptic, maybe it is time you actually exercised some of this so called skepticism.

    • Herbwoman said,

      February 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm

      The editing and cinematography were terrible! What’s a science-based resource I can read? Do you have links? Please post them.

      And Jason? If I wasn’t exercising my so-called skepticism, I wouldn’t even bother learning ANYTHING about ID in the first place. I would have just blindly followed the evolutionist viewpoint.

  2. Jason said,

    February 10, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Perhaps. I’d recommend you pick up Mike Behe’s The Edge of Evolution. A good read and very well done.

  3. ianam said,

    February 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Almost everything you say here about evolution, except that you are ignorant of it, is wrong. Natural selection has nothing to do with “dominant traits”, nor does vestigiality; you could find this out by going to any reference work, but you are apparently too lazy and intellectually inept to do so. Also, the statement “In fact, evolution is so widely accepted that it is no longer called a theory” is ludicrous and shows you know nothing of the terms you are using; try reading (it will be a new experience for you) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory, for instance. There is both the fact of evolution — like the fact that planets travel in elliptical orbits — and the theory of evolution — like Newton’s theory of gravity that explained why planets travel in elliptical orbits. See http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html

    Sorry to be so harsh, but in your current state of ignorance, laziness, and ineptness (that’s what failing to read about things before writing about them is), you’re useless and your ideas — like a “compromise” between the theory of evolution (which does put order to the chaos of unconnected facts shows how complex organisms can arise from simpler ones through a very non-random process — see Dawkins’ “Climbing Mount Improbable) and ID (which is anti-scientific mumbo jumbo rooted in Christian dogma) are wrongheaded.

  4. collinksmith said,

    March 4, 2010 at 3:13 am

    @ianam
    It’s good that you’re sorry for being so harsh, but maybe next time could just refrain from insulting your reader’s intelligence in the first place. I think everyone would be better off.

    It’s true that your conception of evolution is off-base, though. Natural selection simply refers to the fact that traits which aid in reproduction are more likely to get passed on to future generations, and therefore, are more likely to gain prevalence in a population over time. Variations in traits among a species occur by random mutations in organism’s DNA, and these traits are either selected for or against, depending on whether they give the organism a reproductive advantage or disadvantage. For example, a mutation giving a giraffe a longer neck might allow it to reach more leaves, giving it a better chance to survive and reproduce. Over a long period of time, the tendency for more offspring by longer-necked giraffes will lead to the average neck size of the population of giraffes increasing.

    Evolution is driven by the selective pressures of the environment. A population of animals living in the desert will be under selective pressure to require less water and sleep during the day. The environment is also affected by other species. For example, if a species of deer is living alongside giraffe, the deer won’t gain much advantage from longer necks, because the giraffes are already eating the high leaves. This leads to niches – there are many different ways for species to be reproductively successful, and there will be selective pressure toward promising niches that aren’t filled by other species. Giraffes occupy a “long neck” niche. This explains why so many different species can come from a single common ancestor.

    Some people might read that and say that it describes microevolution, and they are fine with that, but the don’t think macroevolution happened, and that there are firm divisions between species that evolution can’t cross. Really, though, there is no difference bewtween micro and macro- evolution except the amount of time involved.

    Also, Darwin didn’t think this only applied to certain animals; the theory as he proposed it applied to all life. Indeed, how could it not apply to all life? And I’m not so sure about “Darwinism” being considering flawed. Of course he wasn’t right about absolutely everything, but his key idea, evolution by natural selection, has stood the test of time.

    There’s not really any possibility of compromise, seeing as how ID is specifically designed to reject and undermine evolution.

    It’s nice to see someone genuinely interested in learning about evolution. I say, keep up the open minded skepticism. Hope this helped.

  5. Myk said,

    March 24, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Richard Dawkins’ recent book “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” is a great overview of current evolution theory and evidence. I heartily recommend it.

    Another excellent resource is the talk.origins website, especially :

    29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/), and
    An Index to Creationist Claims (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/)

    You can spend several days reading through these pages, all of which are referenced to peer-reviewed scientific papers.


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