Evolution and Creationism
The two most common origin explanations that are talked about are evolution and creationism. Creationism is the belief that the universe was created by a being. For example, creating man out of clay and then breathing life into it, is a creation event. A more specific creationsist idea is intelligent design (I.D.), which states that an intelligent agent designed life like a sort of engineer, and thus, life looks designed. This belief is depicted by some as a scientific theory.
Evolution and I.D. Defined
First thing first. I want to clarify what I mean by evolution and intelligent design. Intelligent design is a Christian movement that arose right after Creation Science was struck down by the Supreme Court. However, the concept of an intelligent designer (the arguments themselves) existed before this more recent Christian movement. This idea is also used by non-Christians, such as by some agnostics, to help entertain the possibility that a supernatural, and intelligent agent designed life and the cosmos.
I use the term "evolution" as an umbrella term for what some consider to be a naturalistic evolution of the entire cosmos. That is, a natural evolution from The Big Bang, to stellar evolution (star and planet formation), to abiogensis (birth of life), to biological evolution (evolution of life). This broad definition is commonly used in these type of debates. For instance, proponents of intelligent design often use the irreducible-complexity argument, but also use the fine-tuned universe argument as well, which has nothing to do with Darwinian Evolution (biological evolution). In reality, the debate between evolution and creationism or intelligent desing, tends to actually be a debate between science and intelligent design, since it opposes the claims of many different fields of science.
Proponents of intelligent-design rely on three major pillars:
- Pillars of Intelligent Design
- Supported by ignorance (god of the gaps)
- Fine-Tuned Universe
- Supported by false dichotomy (ignoring other alternatives to evolution)
- Supported by
intelligentunfalsifiable agent (impossible to disprove)
- Supported by ignorance (god of the gaps)
Supported by ignorance
I.D. tries to support itself by what science cannot explain. Two common gaps in science that I.D. relies on are: irreducible-complexity and a fine-tuned universe. This reliance on gaps / human ignorance, ignores the fact that much cannot be explained about the creator either, who has the special and unscientific privelage, of not having to be explained at all. Yet this creator being is allowed to be even more amazing than life on Earth without having to evolved at all, or be explained scientifically, even though often simultaneously considered to be a scientific explanation.
This is the "the idea that certain biological systems cannot evolve by successive small modifications to pre-existing functional systems through biological evolution". A definition given by Michael Behe is "a single system which is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning".
The problem with this is that you can't just remove a part and call it irreducibly complex if it ceases to function. For example, if something evolves into a functioning system, it can continue to evolve from that system, into one that is more integrated. If you removed the femur from your legs (just 1 bone), your legs would cease to function. However, that's not how systems evolve in the first place. To demonstrate irreducible-comlexity, you would have know all the possible forms an initial system can evolve into, and show that at least one of the forms is missing.
This argument states that if just one variable, such as the negative charge of an electron were changed ever so slightly, it would be impossible for life to exist. This ignores other explanations. There could be an infinite amount of universes with different configurations, some of which allow life. Or.. it only appears fine-tuned because we don't fully understand how it works. Consider the number pi. One way you can look at it, is that it's a perfect fraction. If it was any other number, circles wouldn't work. But it's just a number that arises from the division of the circumference of any circle by its diameter.
Supported by false dichotomy
It is often assumed that if The Theory of Evolution is false, then Intelligent Design is true. This argument assists the God of the Gaps argument. If (x) gap is not explained, then it must be God or an intelligent designer of some sort. However, there are many other alternative explanation to evolution and all of science for that matter. There are multiple origin stories, so you can't try to disprove one of them to prove yours. Here are 4 examples:
Supernatural Evolution: If it's possible that an intelligent designer popped into existence or has existed for eternity, then why can't evolution be supernatural? Supernatural evolution allows complex life to arise out of nowhere. These unknown workings of the supernatural allow these lifeforms to take small steps and giant leaps in evolution somehow. Like the intelligent designer idea, no one can explain how this can possible work.
Poofose, The Great Wizard: This entity does not intelligently design anything, it simply can poof life into existence. Just as the intelligent designer may have poofed into existence, so did life at the will of Poofose. This god is much like older concepts of gods, in where they use magic, not an indepth knowledge of physics, to create.
Birtha, The Great Mother: A god, like a mother, can have the power to create life without understanding the complexities of what it created. All humans, cats, dogs, cows, pigs, birds, lizards and fish were born. All of this kind of life came into existence from birth. Why can't birth be what created the very first life on Earth? A god could have gave supernatural birth to all life on Earth. Birth does not require intelligence.
Kwamun, The Quantum Dreamer: When you wake up from a dream, the world and everything in that dream vanishes. Our universe could be the dream of Kwamun, and when he wakes up, we will all vanish. This is why when we look very closely at nature, like quantum mechanics, it seems to make no sense.
Supported by unfalsifiable agent
This is something we've already gone over! It is impossible to disprove intelligent design. Even if the entire universe was explained by physics, you could just say, well physics is intelligently designed. If the theory of evolution is 100% explained in its entirety, you could just say evolution itself is intelligently designed. It's a no win scenario. No matter what the universe looks like, you can say God did it. It doesn't matter if evolution is true or false, you can always say God created everything. In any possible universe conceivable, you can say God created that universe. Even if it is discovered how the universe was created, you can just say God created whatever created the universe and so on, ad infinitum.
What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.Hitchens's razor
On this same level, we can say the same about supernatural evolution. Even if there is a God that created everything, instead of always having existed, you could say that said God evolved. Perhaps there are many gods that have evolved and created their own universes. And it may be that they do not know about each other.