Nails, Spit Balls And Intelligent Design

Michael Zimmerman, a rabid antagonist of Intelligent Design (ID) recently defended, in true zealot fashion, what he considers the crown prince of science, evolution, claiming that ID was dead.

His remarks were motivated by John C. Avise’s article (“Footprints of nonsentient design inside the human genome”) presented at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Zimmerman was elated by the article and his comment was, “the last nail was just placed in the coffin of intelligent design.”

Avise didn’t use those exact words but they do summarize his stated intent.

Simply speaking, the article suggested that imperfections in the human gene code are evidence of chaotic design (my word) and hence ID is out. You can see the full text here.

After reading Zimmerman’s exuberant response I had to see the article for myself. What I found was anything but a funeral. In a few sections the terminology was well over the heads of most down to earth people – very much like academic journals – but for the most part was readable. I’m sure a special effort was made to keep this statement within the intellectual reach of lower life forms.

But the truth is, even though its stated aim was a death blow to ID, it was actually a tribute to the hard work and convincing effort that ID people have made in pressing their point. If there is no sense to ID why bother, particularly so long after the fact?

This ongoing argument was actually stimulated by Michael Behe’s theory that some biological structures are too complex at the molecular level to have been developed in any other way than intelligent, purposeful design – otherwise known as “irreducible complexity.” The idea has frustrated evolution fanatics since 1996 when it was first published. The article makes reference to Behe’s theory in his opening remarks. They are still trying to overcome this one.

In all fairness to Avise he did make an argument, presenting genomic details here-to-fore not isolated but the general concept, “genetic faults” – otherwise known as bats in belfry, hitch in your get-along – isn’t new. His concluding “what this means” is completely off the mark. The specific faults may be new but they make no foundational difference at all.

We have understood for a long time that faults, particularly of the genetic kind, are piling up at an astounding rate. Faulty genes lay at the door of every malady you can name, endogenous or not. Avise actually references one work, “The Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease,” which profiles more than 500 genetic disorders.

None of this, however, is a surprise to advocates of ID. They have been aware of the problem for a long time and it was never considered a threat before or now. You can find the biblical reasoning behind this predicament in many conservative theological commentaries and there are many scientific findings that support the theory (in brief – the fall resulted in environmental and biological deterioration). Avise does mention this in his intro but dismisses it because…well its doesn’t support evolution.

Because “Design” is intelligent – not static or fixed – it allowed for variables, like genetic mutations and human will. Design operates within a very fine balance but even when that balance may have been disturbed, the Designer provided recuperative process and another source of intelligence – in the form of medical treatment – to keep things manageable until the end. Where the inborn recuperative mechanisms fail we have the God given sense to discover additional ways to remedy the problems. Often we win, sometimes we don’t.

The evidence of gene faults is popular with evolutionists now but there was a time when they were red faced about it. Why? Because conservative scientists pointed to this fact for years as proof that evolution is going backwards. The human condition is getting worse not better. It reflected poorly on the theory that evolution produces successively more sophisticated and stable forms of life.

So the questions are still the same:

  • Are we evolving from amebas into higher life forms albeit now with a limp (I wonder what comes after humanity)?
  • Or did we start out as perfect specimens and begin deteriorating at the fall?

You will have to make a faith choice here. Even though some of the more radical scientists make the absolute claim that laboratories will one day find the final answer, absolute proof of evolution’s many still missing links, they haven’t quite gotten there yet. At this point the bottom line is still theory.

We appreciate the good research but unfortunately, for them at least, it doesn’t clear the air or seal the coffin. These findings are more like a poorly aimed spit ball, fired well after the fact, than a last nail in the coffin.

I am curious though. How did the big bang (an explosion) produce our amazingly well ordered environment without the guiding hand of an all knowing and all powerful designer? Wouldn’t that be like producing firecrackers from an explosion in a dynamite shop or The Empire State building from an explosion simultaneously occurring in concrete, steel and glass factories? Call me simple but the designer must have been there.

For most people, however, the argument is getting old. If proponents of evolution want everyone to adopt the mentality – philosophy – that goes with it then prove it! We’re waiting and watching. We want results. But please stop the smoke screening and posturing. It isn’t good for your image and it isn’t convincing to us. We know you are smart we just aren’t impressed.



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