I have the degrees and work experience to qualify as a scientist but I still have to look at Intelligent Design as a serious proposal. There really are holes in the theory of evolution that seem resistant to being plugged by new data. But there are also holes in the Intelligent Design alternative. Let's take a look at the two theories both of which might better be called hypotheses. At our present state of understanding an important function of a working hypothesis is to provide a framework in which new data can be organized. It makes little difference whether it's a theory or a hypothesis. Scientists will discard either in favor of a better explanation.
According to the Panda1 book microevolution makes continuous changes within a species but macroevolution, with divine interference, is required to create new species. The reasoning is that the differences between species are enough that there had to be designer who orchestrated the several small changes that had to be made simultaneously in order to produce a viable individual. Accidentally changing any single gene would produce a variant that would not live long enough to reproduce. The multiple genetic changes are said to be irreducibly complex. Panda does not agree that Homo Sapiens and Chimpanzees (or Pandas) have a common ancestor. Rather it implies that both species are irreducibly complex and must have been intelligently designed in the sense that older genes were not spliced into the new species. They were all new.
A glaring hole in Panda is the simple observation that most species are not even close to perfect. Was the Intelligent Designer not that smart? Why do I have back problems associated with bipedal locomotion using a lumbar structure more suited to a quadruped? Why does my male head get sunburned while my cat has no such problem? Why don't our sinus cavities drain?
There are a whole lot of species even if we don't include plants or extinct animals. In fact the number is so large that it would take a whole lot of designers to make the whole lot of gene changes required to produce them all. In fact the existence of so many individual species is itself an irreducibly complex concept. A single designer would surely build on techniques that functioned on an earlier effort. The strange adaptations found in the real world of animals seem to require other schemes invented by other designers.
The designers probably communicate with each other so that certain configurations used by one designer can be used by another. Pigmentation genes that allow for changes in human skin color in the presence of sunlight may well be used to allow color changes to avoid predators as in the Chameleon. There is probably a "Journal of Applied Evolution" published somewhere in a godly universe of different dimensionality. There might even be a standards agency that is controlled by lobbyists. Perish the thought that there might be a patent office.
Conferences are attended by the designers where the newest and best designs are presented. A committee is assigned to certify and approve new designs for introduction into our three dimensional universe. It is also likely that there are arguments that have to be settled by upper level managers who worry about costs in the form of natural resources and access to those tiny tools that insert genes into spiral molecules without ever getting one wrong and creating a monster. Perhaps a 3D version of a designer appears once in a while to teach or to make progress reports.
The supreme manager must be a philosopher-king2 who keeps his engineers in line. We should give him a name; Zeus comes to mind but there are others. Jupiter? Venus or Adonis would make a good name for the manager responsible for seeing that sexual reproduction remains somewhat consistent among larger species. Mercury could be charged with being sure that proposed new species are able to move around in their environment with adequate speed. Quetzalcoatl would see to it that the highest level species kill themselves off in wars and keep the population in bounds. Things that change over time will require new managers with new names who replace the old boys and, once in a while, create sudden changes perhaps by landing large meteorites in the Caribbean. Pele would be an appropriate manager for acts of God like that. Of course Dionysus and Bacchus would apply their talents to train species in the pleasures of life. Reproduction must occur.
So the theory of intelligent design is entirely reasonable so long as we abandon the requirement of a single intelligent designer. It is no longer necessary to explain how some mistakes are made and why some species become extinct. Massive extinctions no longer require a belief that Allah works in mysterious ways that man is not permitted to understand.
As currently taught, evolution is a framework into which experimental data are placed while the ideas are continuously reviewed and the tree of species is refined. Scientists regularly replace or move the tree limbs in response to new data. With the team-oriented changes to intelligent design those tree-limbs become new relationships between the designers and their managers just as the work of Frank Lloyd Wright differs from that of Saarinen. Understanding the roles of the designers can account for new data providing the same kind of framework that the unfinished theory of evolution provides. There is room for new data and new ideas; only the language changes. We can ask which designer did which job and when. Analysis of anthropomorphic intentions of the managers can generate new theoretical questions that can lead to new research. Trained theologians and psychologists will discover an ability to participate. Accidents of evolution become experiments of the gods.
Will the ruling priesthood of the current Christian hierarchy even discuss such a theory? My guess is "No way", "God told me", "It's not in my Holy Book", "A Wiccan! Lay a fire at the stake", "You must have taken the blue pill". And that's why Panda's concept of Intelligent Creation - sorry - Design is not science. It's not even debatable as theology, let alone adaptable to allow for results of experiments and observations yet to be performed. Theories change to match observation. Dogma refuses to do so and should be relegated to Sunday school.
1: Of Pandas and People, Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon, Haughton Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0‑914513‑40‑0
2: The term is borrowed from Plato who said it's the best form of government, but questioned its practicality.
Douglas P. McNutt
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