Intelligent Design or Nonrandom Events?

Intelligent Design or Nonrandom Events?

November 3, 2005


Recently the question whether intelligent design should be taught in public schools has engendered much controversy. The leaders of the scientific establishment oppose teaching ID (intelligent design) because it seems to imply that a Designer, namely God, had a part in the origin of life. These persons do not feel that religious concepts should be taught in a science class. Creationists and others feel that science should not exclude possible truth, whether it is religious or not, and that the possibility of divine, or at least intelligent, intervention in the origin of life should be considered.

There is another possibility that may be more acceptable to both sides. Instead of postulating that an intelligent designer was involved in the origin of life, one can simply hypothesize that highly non-random events contributed to the origin of life. Stated another way, from time to time the laws of probability are suspended and events that may seem to have a purpose simply happen, for reasons that we do not fully understand. This approach does not say what the cause of this nonrandomness is, but only that it sometimes takes place. Of course, the intervention of an outside intelligence could have contributed to such nonrandom events, but this need not be mentioned in the classroom. This approach concentrates on the effect of such outside intervention, namely, nonrandomness in the origin of life, rather than the cause, namely, a possible outside intelligence. Such an approach could explain the origin of life despite the tremendous improbabilities associated with it by assuming that a cluster of highly nonrandom events contributed to the origin of life. Similarly, the origin of new species in the fossil record could be explained by clusters of highly nonrandom mutations.

It is true that one cannot give a scientific explanation for such nonrandom events, or demonstrate them in the laboratory. However, there are many aspects of science that are not yet understood, so this lack of an explanation and reproducibility should not be a reason for rejecting this theory. Perhaps this approach would permit a resolution of the current controversy about the teaching of evolution in the public schools.

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