Combining evolution and ID

I finished grading another batch of student papers where I get to see what a bunch of smart juniors think of evolution and intelligent design.

As usual, their tendency is to split the difference. Many of them are classic god-of-the-gaps reasoners, eager to insert supernatural powers wherever it looks that there’s something significant that we do not have a complete scientific story about. They also don’t like to go against anything with “science” stamped upon it. So they combine evolution and intelligent design, making a hash of both. They accept evolution (in the sense of common descent) as the best account of the history of life. They tend to go for a kind of non-Darwinian, divinely guided evolution, but in many cases their views are too incoherent to even describe as explicitly guided evolution. But they also want a less vague form of divine involvement, a moment of creation. So they tend to think that their God created life by some sort of miracle, but then turned life over to evolution, to let it sort out its own path. So they describe intelligent design as the best theory for the origin of life, and evolution as the best theory for what came afterwards.

They might think they have the best of both worlds that way, but they might get the worst. It’s an intellectually unstable position. Mainstream scientists are not happy with a miraculous origin of life, and intelligent design proponents do not like to concede that blind natural processes are sufficient for any of the creativity we see in evolution.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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