In the debate about intelligent design creationism, attention is usually focused on the evidence for life’s natural origin. In this post I look at it from a designer’s perspective: what is an “intelligent designer” supposed to be, and how is the design process supposed to be different from evolution? As a working example, the bicycle is one of the simplest mechanical inventions, used by billions of people. But some of the most basic physics behind the bicycle is still mysterious. The bicycle was not “intelligently designed” by some solitary brilliant engineer. Instead it’s an example of how knowledge, intelligence and design are woven together in an evolutionary process.
The other day I was listening to an older Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, and they discussed some recent research that casts doubt on the conventional explanation of self stability in ordinary bicycles. I happened to be riding my bicycle while listening, and I happened to completely crash, leading me to speculate that my bicycle had been stabilized purely by my faith in it (which was now shattered).
Sigh. Immediately following the Newtown tragedy, all varieties of media lit up with critiques about groups who might try to capitalize on the event to serve their own political motives. These critiques were initially directed at gun-control activists. But now a growing variety of crazies — some of them in positions of influence — are using Newtown as a backdrop to air their own fringe viewpoints. Among the more popular fringe ideas are coming from the prayer-in-school and anti-evolution camps, who are circulating messages like this one, titled “Darwin at fault for massacre,” that appeared in my local paper. According to the letter’s author, Geoff Vongermeten:
Not until Darwin goes away and in the view of humanity being specially created by God in his image can we ever hope to stem the tide of mass murder and war. Cain started it. Darwin legitimized it. Who’s going to stop it? The tools are not the problem. The philosophy is the problem!
While my local paper is known for attracting cave-dwelling weirdos, PZ Myers has assembled a round-up of comments that commanded substantial influence during the past week. The most common viewpoint seems to be that Newtown was divine punishment. A popular poem has been circulating which insinuates that Jesus wanted to “take back his schools,” i.e. Jesus had the Newtown children assassinated so that he could open an elementary school in heaven. These ideas are completely zany, but they are echoed by people like James Dobson who command a large national audience.