Back to the CP vault of 2009 articles. Here is another digitally remastered work of art on evolution and ID.
Intelligent design is a great idea, but why is it owned by those who repudiate neo-Darwinian evolution?
A clue as to why the theistic IDers reject evolution comes in the neo-Darwinian definition of the core mechanism of random mutation and natural selection. It is the “random” part that is the problem. I have heard IDers on mutiple occasions state that they have no principled objection to common descent. The problem, rather, is that within neo-Darwinism “random” is understood to be absolute and thus to exclude even divine guidance. And a theory of origins which excludes God from the process altogether is deism at best and atheism at worst.
Well it is true, many neo-Darwinians do understand random in that absolute sense. But so what? Why accept their rules for the game? For one thing, that statement is itself not scientific, it is metaphysical or philosophical. It transcends the reach of science altogether and belongs to the territory of one’s prior worldview. (The same applies to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum indeterminacy. There may be no prior natural cause that determines the position and/or velocity of a sub-atomic particle, but who can say that there is no absolute determining cause?)
So an IDer could simply say that random means not determined by a prior physical cause, while leaving it open the extent to which the process is determined or guided by a divine cause. (See chapter three of my book Faith Lacking Understanding for a discussion of science and divine causation.)
What I simply don’t get then, is why IDers do not challenge the tendentious metaphysical reading of “random” and appropriate an ID form of neo-Darwinian theory.
Maybe the reason is that some IDers really are biblical conservatives at heart who believe that Genesis 1-2 excludes common descent. Perhaps they believe that being made in the image of God must mean I could not share a common ancestor with a chimpanzee (and a sea cucumber). Maybe they worry that evolution undermines a historical Adam, and that we need a historical Adam.
But even in that case, surely they could set their personal hermeneutics aside for the sake of the movement. Currently those neo-Darwinians who accept an absolute, metaphysical reading of random are aided immeasurably by IDers who concede the point. And as a result, IDers unwittingly perpetuate the “intelligent design” vs. “evolution” myth.