Taking Intelligent Design Seriously

Far too often I look at Intelligent Design with nothing but scorn, seeing it as nothing but a gussied-up creationism. In my time off I’ve taken the chance to read up on it and think about it in a different way. Let’s take a look at ID at face value, just using science to point out that speciation is due not to mutation, reproduction and selection (the three parts of Darwinian evolution) but instead is accomplished by the workings of a designer of some sort. Not being a religious concept like creationism, ID doesn’t need to shorten the history of the earth to a few thousand years. It is merely a different way to interpret the evidence in nature… the same evidence Darwin and his followers used to carve out the theory of evolution.

Intelligent Design does not change the facts in record. It gives us no refutation of the scientifically accepted age of the earth or of life, nor does it state that the progression seen in the fossil record is false. So the earth is still 4.6 billion years old, life is still 3.5 billion years old, and there was a time where there were fish but no reptiles, reptiles with no mammals, mammals with no humans, etc. To put it plainly, if design is the explanation for life, then the designer has chosen to work gradually, assembling the living world over hundreds of millions of years. The patterns also show us that new species appear at different times in the history of the world, and they always appear soon after a similar species had gone extinct. The earliest reptiles are very amphibian-like, and the earliest mammals are known as the “reptile-like mammals.” These were preceded by “mammal-like reptiles,” lest the point be missed. Within other groups the pattern is even more evident, especially for animals in our more recent past, where we have a more complete fossil record.
 
One of the best-known examples is the horse family (Equidae). Over 55 million years the group diversified, branched out, expanded and contracted, many lineages going extinct. Ironically, Equidae is now relegated to a single genus, Equus, with over three dozen extinct genera and over 100 extinct species. At first glance, this appears to be obvious evidence of evolution. But couldn’t this be explained by Intelligent Design? Of course it could. Because an intelligent designer could make just about anything, he, she, or it could have designed each of those hundred species then watched them go extinct.

But what would be expected to drive a fossil record of this sort if it were produced by design? As far as I know, no ID theorist has bothered to address this question. But since ID acknowledges “microevolution,” or small changes, they do not accept “macroevolution.” Most ID theorists claim that the creation of a new genus would be macroevolution, and thus the designer would have acted at least three dozen distinct and separate times to design new species in the last 55 million years – and that’s just in the horse family.

What does design theory tell us about the details of the horse family over the last 55 million years? First, it’s not a family at all, since the ancestor-descendant relationships are just an illusion. In fact, this “evolutionary tree” leading to modern horses isn’t a tree at all, just a collection of individual species directly created by the designer with no relationship to each other. Over time the designer created a handful of species and then, as each went extinct, he replaced it with a modified version. Take this repetitive creation and multiply it by all the groups of animals, plants and other organisms, and we come to some inescapable conclusions.

First, our “intelligent designer” is not really a designer but a creator. Secondly, the designer is never satisfied – or maybe can never get it right. Today’s world is, after all, the result of successive biological change. In essence, intelligent design is actually a hypothesis of progressive creationism.

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~ by kriskodisko on December 17, 2012.

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