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How Intelligent is Intelligent Design?
by Dr. Arnie Gotfryd
"It is intellectually dishonest to adopt certain truth criteria when convenient, and drop them when not. Therefore, it is assumed that anyone seeking proof is doing so not merely for the sake of intellectual exercise and gratification, but with the intention of living by his conclusions." The Rebbe
 
Readers Write
 
 
Dear Dr. Gotfryd,
Thanks so much for that wonderful and memorable Shabbos you shared with our kehilla. I hope we didn't run you too ragged by shlepping you out to speak for the Bais Chana girls, the local public high school and our Jewish Meditation group.
 
Everybody loved it. Actually, a number of people were upset that they missed your presentations on "Evolution Myths and Facts" and "How Intelligent is Intelligent Design." Do you have anything on line they could access on these subjects?
 
Looking forward to having you again,
Rabbi Shloime Zacks
Director of Adult Education
Chabad of Pacific Palisades
 
 
Dear Reb Shloime,
 
You certainly did not run me ragged. More than the calf wants to suck, the cow wants to give milk.
 
For a print version of my "Evolution Myths and Facts" talk your people have 3 options: The simplest, cheapest and probably most fun is to check out my online newsletter issue "Can Evolution Survive?" click on the "Evolution Myths and Facts" article there. The other stuff in that issue is also interesting.
 
Next, you can buy or borrow a copy of my book, "Mind Over Matter: The Lubavitcher Rebbe on Science, Technology and Medicine" and find my article in the appendix.

Third, there's a brand new scholarly tome called "Divine Action and Natural Selection" published by World Scientific that has an updated version of my essay in it, but beware: In that book you are guaranteed to find articles absolutely contrary to your views, no matter what they are!

For an audio rendition, here's a link to download a talk I gave on this subject in Toronto.
 
For "How Intelligent is Intelligent Design?" I've never written it up per se, so I'll write up a little something here and you can forward it to your members if you wish.

 
*     *     *     *     *
 
How Intelligent is Intelligent Design?
 
No less significant than battles over territory are battles over ideology. After all, if the pen is mightier than the sword, is not the mind mightier than the pen?

 In America, the battle over Intelligent Design is no small skirmish, but what is it really about? Most people consider ID to be nothing more than thinly veiled Biblical Creationism posing as a scientific alternative to evolution. As such it is pitted squarely against belief in evolution as the explanation of how the diversity of life arose on planet earth.

Thus the fight is characterized as the religious right vs. the secular left about what we should and should not teach our kids in school, be it elementary, secondary, or college. ID proponents claim that the Big Bang and Darwinism are too speculative to be good science and the evidence supports a young world just as well, if not better. ID detractors say reserve your faith for church or home but if you come to a publicly funded school, leave it at the door. Leave the science for the scientists.

 To complicate matters, there are devout bible believers who have no problem with evolutionary theories and an old world, just as there are erudite scientists who espouse a young cosmos a mere 6,000 years old or less. The former group says, hey, who says the 6 days of creation weren't immense epochs of time? The latter group says, hey, is it any more difficult for G-d to create a set stage and put man on it, than to make primordial plasma and have it explode and coagulate into stars and planets, monkeys and men.

In school board after school board, legislature after legislature, courtroom after courtroom, the battle goes on with America neatly split down the middle, pretty much along religious lines.
 
But I question the whole premise of the argument. I don't believe that ID is thinly
veiled Biblical Creationism. Nor do I believe it to be science.

eclipseTo me Intelligent Design is a singular concept which is fundamental to both perspectives! I call it the Abraham Principle, after the patriarch who deduced the existence of the Creator from his observations on the orderliness of nature.
 
By observing the sun, the moon and other natural phenomena, he understood that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The logic is that when any system's parts A and B operate together in an orderly fashion, and it is apparent that A does not determine B's properties and B does not determine A's properties, there must be some C that is external to A and B and more powerful than them that controls or coordinates them.

Causal reasoning demands that intelligible order requires an intelligent cause beyond it. In essence this is the concept behind intelligent design.
 
Realizing the cosmos as a whole is a system, he applied this reasoning to conclude that the controlling force had to be outside it altogether - outside of space, time, matter and energy - while at the same time operating within it. He negated a pantheon of forces by applying the same reasoning. Nature and the supernatural are coordinated by a unified entity that transcends and permeates them both.

For Abraham, the Creator had to be omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, without size, age, form, mass, or parts. It was only logical.
 
But just a moment... how is this approach to analyzing nature different from what scientists do in essence? They observe nature, detect patterns, and set about using logic to ascertain causes. The only difference is that science stops at proximal or near causes and Abraham continued the reasoning to the Ultimate Cause, which is necessarily One.
 
So yes, the secularists are right about one thing. Intelligent Design is not science. It is the axiomatic logic that underlies both of those two great disciplines, science and religion, and in effect makes them One.

 
*     *     *     *     *

 
"All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel that it is too complex to have evolved anywhere." - Nobel Prize-winning Chemist Harold Urey (1962), famous for his leading role in recreating the building blocks of life from inorganic matter.
 

 


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