Scott Rank is a senior in journalism and mass communication from Knoxville. He is the opinion editor of the Daily.
Hold on to your copies of “On the Origin of Species,” Iowa State. Whether you know it or not, the battle for the future of how to teach evolution in public schools is happening right here at our university.
This battle is also happening all across the nation, and it’s embodied in a new scientific theory that is gaining steam among scientists and laymen.
It’s called intelligent design (ID), the argument that life shows signs of having been designed by an intelligent agent.
To critics, this “intelligent agent” sounds suspiciously like the Christian Triune God, but ID is a secular theory, and there are many ID researchers who are Jewish, Eastern Orthodox and Agnostic. The goal of the ID movement is not to kick evolution out of schools, but to allow students to question certain parts of Darwinian materialism.
But mainstream scientists don’t acknowledge ID as science. Prominent researchers are scrambling to write articles against it, universities are firing staff members who publicly advocate it and Wired Magazine even devoted a cover article to it, affectionately titled “The Crusade Against Evolution.”
This battle isn’t just national — it’s also taking place right here at Iowa State. Some of the most cutting-edge research in this controversial field is coming from Guillermo Gonzalez, an ISU physics professor who wrote a groundbreaking book called “The Privileged Planet.”
The book premises that the same unlikely circumstances that allow life to exist on earth are also the best circumstances for scientific discovery. Gonzalez states that with all these fantastic circumstances running around, it must have been in the cards for Earth to be in the place in the universe that it is.
However, Darwinists won’t have it. They paint this type of ID research as “creationism in a lab coat,” an attempt to smuggle the Genesis account of creation into a 10th-grade biology class. They think that ID should be thrown in to history’s dustbin, along with alchemy and bloodletting.
Some ISU professors have jumped on the bandwagon to bash ID. Last week, two ISU professors — Hector Avalos and John Patterson — presented a forum on the flaws in ID and specifically attacked “The Privileged Planet.”
Avalos, Iowa State’s most beloved atheist, argued against ID science from a philosophical point of view, which was odd, since Avalos is neither a scientist nor a philosopher. But most ISU students know that Avalos will throw mud at theism whenever possible (if the ISU dietetics program hosted a Christian cooking conference, Avalos would show up with a batch of homemade atheist cookies).
Patterson, a retired ISU professor who gained national recognition as an outspoken critic of creation science, said that “scientific” explanations, like ID, are worse than no explanations at all because they are absurdly wrong.
There are a few things Patterson doesn’t understand. First of all, modern science wouldn’t exist without a belief in a designer. The entire bedrock of Western science is founded on being open-minded to natural things that transcend nature, an idea that started with Aristotle.
Second, Patterson, along with all other neo-Darwinists, is a victim to several bad presuppositions. Darwin didn’t derive his theory from nature, but superimposed his naturalistic worldview on nature and spent his life trying to attach scientific facts to his philosophy to make it meritable.
Today, some of Darwin’s ideas look as cartoonish as “The Far Side.” He believed that undirected processes, principally natural selection, is enough to create biological complexity.
But Darwin’s own research contradicted this. In “On the Origin of the Species,” Darwin said, “Can we believe that natural selection could produce … an organ so wonderful as the eye? How could organisms that need it survive without it while it was evolving over thousands of millions of years?”
If this type of inconsistency is taught as gospel in the classroom, then I’m baffled why most scientists are so threatened by having minor criticisms of Darwin taught as well. But it doesn’t really matter what mainstream science thinks. ID is slowly gaining acceptance, and it’s not going away anytime soon.