Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

Intelligent design or evolution?

Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2007, at 9:20 AM
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  • My colleague,

    To believe in God, creation, life after death, destiny, and all that, is inherently comforting. To know that God created the heavens and, at the very least, started life on earth so that evolution could develop it from there (wether with or without a guiding hand) is also comforting. And also very simple.

    Sure, without a doubt, it is very easy to look at birds and cats and the world around us and conclude it was designed. Likewise it is also extraordinarily difficult to comprehend how all of it can be brought about by natural occurrences. But easy doesn't mean true. While the details of the truth are exceedingly complex and difficult to comprehend, the basic premise upon which all the mechanisms are founded is still a simple one. Life evolves through the process of random mutation and natural selection.

    The wide diversity we see in life can all be traced back through time to converge with common ancestry. If you can comprehend and accept evolution, on whatever limited scale you are willing to accept, then I submit you already have the capacity to accept it all. The only part you're having trouble with is comprehending the sheer TIME that it is required to have. People have enough trouble just comprehending 200 years. Well... expand 200 years to 2000. To 20,000. To 200,000. To 2,000,000. To 20,000,000. To 200,000,000. To 2,000,000,000. And then double that to 4,000,000,000! It is impossible for the human mind to comprehend that length of time.

    It is said that if the age of the earth were equivalent to your arm span, and you pass a nail file over your fingernail, you would have just wiped out the whole of human existence. The rest of that time is how long evolution had to be working in order for people to arise. And as for how did life arise on earth in the first place? There are fascinating theories about that which can be read about and studied.

    talkorigins.org is a fascinating site that explains, in astonishing detail, all the mechanisms we know about that have brought our world to what it is today, from the "pre-biotic soup" to the life forms we have today. It is an amazing read, full of wonder and amazement as to how all these systems worked for and against each other to bring about this current end result. A good place to start would be http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/originoflife.html . To counter that system with the idea that, "God did it," in intellectually suffocating. It is an insult to what we know about science and what we know science CAN bring about. It's a shame that religion exists in the way it does today, because without it, humankind and the world in which we live would without a doubt, have progressed in areas of technology, medicine, philosophy, and who knows what else, to a degree we can't possibly imagine. Not to mention we could have done without all the religious wars that have plagued our world throughout the centuries.

    David Sorrenson

    -- Posted by Horseman on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 12:36 PM
  • David, Thanks for your well thought out and composed response. The links will provide some interesting reading.

    At first blush, I have difficulty accepting the statements in the articles, probably for the same reason you have difficulty with religion. We both have to go on faith that the statements are accurate, since none of us were there.

    In one paragraph alone I found words like "proposed" "assumed, "previously thought" which to me imply that they do not really know. They are basically making a refined, scientific guess.

    It is all fascinating, but as we develop new ways to see and test the universe we are finding out that assumptions made years ago, but taught as fact, were in fact, wrong. How does that build confidence in today's theories? When will they be found to be incorrect?

    Religion has no doubt, caused many serious, if not horrific events in history, but I propose that this is MAN'S twisted interpretation of what God was trying to say. Regardless of what religion is used to justify the Crusade, Jihad of today or any of the other conflict, it is wrong.

    Nothing about the way I interpret my faith is suffocating. I am free to explore and consider all propositions, as I will enjoy reading the references you have given. As I think back on how far we have come in my parents' and my lifetime I do not see where we were seriously crippled by our beliefs.

    Yes, I can identify some restrictive cultures that are based on religion, but I believe we have seen God-less societies and beliefs just as restrictive and deadly. Mankind has a great propensity for screwing things up.

    But why would we be any less susceptible to getting it wrong when it comes to science?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 1:46 PM
  • Then, before the day is over, may I suggest the following for your viewing pleasure...


    I'd give something a bit more thoughtful, but at the moment, I've got to be somewhere. I'll check back later!

    David Sorrenson

    -- Posted by Horseman on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 3:53 PM
  • In the beginning God. God said bang things were made at I do believe in evolution or adaption according to God's will , good blog.

    -- Posted by michaelbell on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 6:14 PM
  • Thanks Michael.

    David, While my satellite connection is sooo much better than dial-up, it is still not good enough for consistent video. I tried to start listening but the lag time was driving me a bit batty. I will check it out when on cable connection.


    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 8:01 PM
  • Interesting blog.

    Benjamin Franklin, among Paris' skeptic and agnostic philosophers was intrigued with their comprehension of the universe's existence without God. He went to one of the leading jewelers in Paris and commissioned a replica of the solar system. The model was completed and he carried it to one of the philosophical group's meetings. They marveled at the beauty and complexity of the design and its execution. When asked who had made it he replied that in fact no one had made it, it just happened.

    Enough said.

    -- Posted by dmcg on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 9:19 PM
  • ID is nothing more than the teleological argument with irreducible complexity thrown into the mix. It still doesn't hold water even though it's one of the oldest, and most obvious, arguments for the existence of a deity.

    It was Hume that pointed out that even if a deity created all of this, there is scat evidence of the benevolence of this deity.

    Remember the beauty of that little bird? Well, if you believe that a god created it, then you have to believe that god also created a system where lions kill and eat baby gazelles while the mother watches. The beauty of a sunset? How about the beauty of maggots feasting in an empty eye socket?

    If there is a creator, then he created everything, warts and all.

    -- Posted by infidel57 on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 10:32 PM
  • As a teacher of science, this subject hits me daily. I don't teach religion, I teach science. The revelation that a creature is able to adapt to its environment in order for it and its offspring to survive is far more incredible and supernatural, if you will, than a static, unchanging being. We build stuff that is unchanging. An article of clothing does not become more sturdy at points of wear, a car does not change to use gasoline more efficiently on its own. Our creator in His infinite wisdom built our earthly bodies to be able to survive on this harsh planet, but our souls...well that's a different story.

    Um...the beauty of a maggot in an eye socket is to prove that energy cycles are required by nature to keep the circle of life in motion. (It really needs an eye to be in the socket because if it was empty (nothing to lay larvae in that has a nutrient source) I doubt he'd be there.)

    I like this thread. I would like to hear how anyone thinks the topic of evolution should be approached. I don't think the topic should be introduced until high school. A basic understanding of genetics is required for it to be taught anyway. It would be like trying to learn calculus before you learned algebra.

    -- Posted by Jacks4me on Wed, Dec 5, 2007, at 7:28 AM
  • I have not seen the Franklin description before. Interesting.

    In regards to the cruelty of nature and the terrible human tragedies that occur, it has always been a difficult issue for humans to resolve. We are seeing it from human eyes and I do not think I can comprehend the complexity in which God views the same thing.

    We are taught that the worst thing is to lose our eternal reward, so to God this may seem trivial. We are in the middle of it, so to us it is colossal. I admit, I do not know.

    While I believe we are made in God's likeness, I also believe we have "evolved" and that causes conflict. I love our cats, but I get upset when it kills a bird. I used to hunt, but I no longer do so because I do not like killing. If I had to eat, or defend my family, I would.

    I forgive my cat because they do not have the same thought process that I have. I forgive my child for errors in judgment, because I am a father, as I believe God does for us.

    There is a lot more to be said from both sides, so I will not try to say it all in this post. I truly welcome the other views so let us continue on.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 5, 2007, at 7:32 AM
  • Jacks4me, We posted about the same time so I was not able to remark about your comments. I can see where it is a tough line to walk teaching and believing since they sometimes seem to be at odds.

    Kudos to you for teaching, by the way. It is a commitment that requires sacrifice but immensely rewarding in other ways.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 5, 2007, at 7:38 AM
  • The maggots ARE lovely.

    They debride and cleanse wounds,eat up decaying matter such as rotten food and manure and 'recycle' it into humus so new life can get a start.

    (They help forensic teams make a living,too.)

    Without our flies,worms, bacteria,phagocytes and what have you,dead and deadly material would just sit there making no constructive contributions.

    This way,the raw materials get a second shot at being beneficial.

    Yes,it'd be nice if all this renewal could occur in a pretty,sweet-smelling and non-violent fashion but then there are other forms of reproduction and digestion that get messy,too but they,also,have beauty and pleasure of their own.

    Why would God use predators and carrion-eaters?

    I couldn't begin to guess.

    They might have their doubts about us.

    -- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, Dec 5, 2007, at 9:14 PM
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